Johnnie Fox’s Struan Kenton was among the speakers at this year’s Pubs Educational Programme at the Alltech International Brewing & Craft Fair in the National Convention Centre recently to explain to publicans how an isolated Glencullen premises successfully set about establishing itself as a Destination Pub.
From the outset it traded on being different from other pubs, he told the audience. Johnnie Fox’s was one of the first pubs to implement a smoking ban and it was one of the first to advertise in a tourist magazine like Aer Lingus’s Cara magazine. Johnnie Fox’s still advertises continuously in Cara.
“Most people coming into Ireland come in on a plane, so why not?” stated Struan.
He also believes that digital marketing is essential in growing a pub’s footfall.
“People under 30 are always on their phone or their laptop,” he pointed out, “So you should make use of the online tourism and menu pages.”
The pub prominently advertises its menu as this is what it’s best known for.
The remote pub also runs an express coach service to pick people up and return them to Dublin city centre as it realises that taxis from the city to Glencullen in the Dublin mountains are expensive.
“We came to an agreement with a company called Expressbus that for €5 a head, the bus would stop at nine places along the way to Glencullen,” explained Struan.
It’s also important to give back something in order to create these agreements, he pointed out.
“After all, no one is going to randomly walk past our door out here so having made an agreement with the likes of Bewleys Hotel, this bus stops at the major hotels to pick up passengers.
“Customers are very fussy and if you have to over-think how you’ll get here you’ll not bother in the first place.”
Tourist offices are also leafleted.
“We offer a percentage of the cost price for taking bookings for our ‘Hooley Show’,” he explained, “We’re the only trad music Hooley Show and we push ‘Ireland’, ‘Ireland’, ‘Ireland’ all the time.”
The memorabilia-laden pub offers its customers 50 Irish whiskeys plus a range of craft beers.
“We even had our barmen say, ‘Why not come up to Johnnie Fox’s and have a Hooker?’, he laughed, “So people come here because they want to try something different.”
Once there, the consumer can look at the Johnnie Fox memorabilia-stand which holds minimally-sized trinkets that could be carried easily by tourists.
“We don’t go overboard” stressed Struan, “We offer fridge magnets, tee-shirts, collared shirts – things that are light to carry.”
The bar also has a strong presence on facebook through which it promotes special offers. If one has bought artifacts there previously, for example, one’s entitled to a discount.
It’s also useful for pushing the pub’s kudos. There’s even a poster of the pub in a picture taken at the top of Mount Everest!
“For a Destination Pub you should take the time to research,” Struan explained, “Have an original idea and remember it’s you that has to bring the people in. Make sure that you can stand over your advertising.”