BEIRUT

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Lebanese pubs gear up for World Cup

  • Celtic Sports Cafe has built a new patio area for the occasion and will hold daily competitions for customers.

BEIRUT: Football-crazed Lebanese fans are eagerly awaiting the World Cup kickoff in Brazil, which is less than two weeks away, but they are not alone. Business owners in the hospitality and service sector are likewise enthusiastic that the most-watched tournament across the globe will bring with it a major boost in sales and occupancy rates, experts told The Daily Star.

Pierre Akiki, founder and general manager of Next Ideaz, a consultancy firm in the hospitality industry, says the period that coincides with a major football tournament such as the World Cup or Euro Cup presents an opportunity that businesses must seize by devising special offers to attract customers.

Restaurant can increase their sales by up to 35 percent throughout the period of the sports event compared to the same period without a competition taking place, Akiki says.

The average occupancy rate, which usually stands at 70 percent around this time of year, jumps to 100 percent throughout the World Cup phases, with a restaurant’s turnover per table increasing from 1 to 1.5, Akiki adds.

Akiki, whose firm provides consultancy services to more than 10 businesses including hotels, restaurants, pubs and beach resorts, says Next Ideaz has advised and helped its clients formulate special menus and offers at discounted prices that range from $15 to $20.

“Special offerings come at an affordable price for customers and at the same time, help business owners avoid a low average check when the restaurant is operating at full occupancy,” Akiki explains.

Besides special deals, many restaurants are installing additional and larger screens to broadcast the matches in a bid to provide their customers with a more pleasurable experience.

According to Akiki, the cost of installing newly bought or rented big screens is usually compensated for during the first two weeks of the tournament, and the additional revenue generated over the third and fourth weeks helps businesses boost profit.

Some business owners are putting even more efforts into attracting clients. Zouheir Chehaitly, manager and owner of Celtic Sports Cafe on Monnot Street in Beirut’s Ashrafieh neighborhood, is expanding his venue to include a new terrace that can accommodate 50 people.

Chehaitly, who founded one of the few sports bars in Beirut 11 years ago, says major sports tournaments, and particularly the World Cup, see an increase in sales by a whopping two- to three-fold.

“The majority of my customers, both Lebanese and foreigners, are football fans,” he explains.

Chehaitly adds that Celtic Sports Cafe, which can already accommodate some 200 customers in two separate venues excluding the new terrace, will be organizing daily competitions throughout the tournament and awarding prizes to customers.

Like Celtic Cafe, other pubs across the capital are organizing games for customers during the World Cup.

Citizen Smith, a pub in the Hamra neighborhood, is organizing challenges such as predicting the winner and the score of a match among others, managing partner Maher Abu Chaqra says.

Abu Chaqra adds that Citizen Smith will charge a $3 entrance fee per customer or offer a $10 one-drink ticket to make up for the cost of installing new screens and subscribing to TV channels broadcasting the World Cup.

“Sales doubled during the Euro 2012 tournament, and I expect this to be the case during the World Cup.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 02, 2014, on page 5.
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Summary

Football-crazed Lebanese fans are eagerly awaiting the World Cup kickoff in Brazil, which is less than two weeks away, but they are not alone.

Pierre Akiki, founder and general manager of Next Ideaz, a consultancy firm in the hospitality industry, says the period that coincides with a major football tournament such as the World Cup or Euro Cup presents an opportunity that businesses must seize by devising special offers to attract customers.

The average occupancy rate, which usually stands at 70 percent around this time of year, jumps to 100 percent throughout the World Cup phases, with a restaurant's turnover per table increasing from 1 to 1.5, Akiki adds.

Chehaitly, who founded one of the few sports bars in Beirut 11 years ago, says major sports tournaments, and particularly the World Cup, see an increase in sales by a whopping two- to three-fold.


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