Feature: Key occasions in March

Pub & Bar looks into how to make the most of four key occasions over the next month – St David’s Day, International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day and St Patrick’s Day.

Pub and bar operators know as well as anyone that making the most of key occasions throughout the year is essential to driving extra footfall and revenue.

Some calendar dates are more obvious than others, but when you combine those with the slightly lesser celebrated occasions, then there are some periods throughout the year that are packed with opportunity. And you know what? We think the month of March, kicking off with St David's Day at the very beginning, might just be one of the most lucrative months going. It's just about getting the event-specific offer bang on the money...

St David's Day / 1 March

If you've never thought to celebrate the patron saint of Wales in your venue, then make 2024 the year to remedy that. The fact that it falls on a Friday this year is even more reason to see what results you can achieve. While stereotypes of flags and daffodils are fine to raise awareness, it's the food and drink offer that can really make a difference to an occasion like this. Think Welsh lamb, rarebit, cawl... St David's is also known as 'the feast day of saint David', which leaves the door wide open to a properly tailored Welsh menu.

"St David’s Day provides operators with a unique opportunity to engage with customers and drive footfall," says Laura Pickup, head of strategic marketing and connections at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales. "But you can’t just hope they’ll come through the doors - offering them a reason to visit is key. Bespoke menu offerings are a great way to do this. Menus which authentically reflect the day by including locally-sourced, tasty, quality ingredients can help offer the unique dining experience that consumers are looking for and in turn drive loyalty, encouraging them to come back time and time again."

A Welsh Lamb rarebit hotpot from Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales

To see just what pubs are doing to make the most of St David's Day, Pub & Bar is teaming up with Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales to document the efforts and results of the Hare and Hounds Group, as they welcome guests to their sites on 1 March. The full write-up will appear in the April issue of Pub & Bar magazine.

"St David’s Day is all about getting into the Welsh spirit, so when it comes to eating out consumers want their food choices to reflect this," adds Pickup. "Incorporating Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef into menus is the perfect way to do this. Our Welsh Lamb rarebit hotpot offers an unusual twist on a classic, combining everyone’s favourite cheesy Welsh snack with a warming one-pot. Alternatively, our Roast leg of Welsh Lamb topped with herbs, garlic, and lemon and clementine is not only a tasty option, but a cost effective one too, allowing for multiple portions."

International Women's Day / 8 March

Make no mistake about it, folks, despite the progressions that have been made when it comes to equal rights for women around the world, there is still a great need for the International Women’s Day movement, especially within the hospitality industry. 

The annual awareness occasion returns again on 8 March, this time with the theme #InspireInclusion. As the organisation’s website states, ‘on an individual basis, it’s important to understand, value and seek out the inclusion of women’. What’s more, the online source has plenty of suggestions on how businesses can proactively celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, including recruiting, retaining and developing female talent; supporting women into leadership, decision-making and business; designing and building infrastructure meeting the needs of women; and addressing further areas supporting the advancement of women and girls.

Beyond that, if you don’t do it already, acknowledging the talented females in your business would be a fundamental start. Then there’s the little matter of your customers! There are a whole host of activations you could be doing that make the women who walk through your doors feel extra special on 8 March.

Celebrate Mothers in March

Mother's Day / 10 March

Under no circumstances should Mother’s Day be overlooked by pub and bar operators – it is a huge occasion to bring extra custom through the door. Whether you believe in the yearly celebration or not, the fact remains that millions of families will be making plans for 10 March, as they decide which venue is special enough to treat mum to a meal out. Could that be yours?

As you will have no doubt noticed on these pages, Mother’s Day closely follows International Women’s Day, meaning it is a huge weekend for your female customers and a wide-open three days for pubs and bars to market their offer specifically to these guests. You’re in for International Women’s Day? Great, why not book for lunch two days later and receive a free drink on arrival? You know the drill.

It’s also worth noting that this weekend is jam-packed full of sporting events, as the Six Nations continues over both days and, while yet to be confirmed, it looks like Liverpool will host Man City on the Sunday afternoon in the Premier League. Keep these fixtures and venue zoning adaptations in mind when planning these celebratory few days. 

The whole country will be ready for St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's Day / 17 March

March, as ever, means it’s time for another green-tinted, stout-pouring, diddly-blaring St Patrick’s Day celebration across the whole of the on-trade. 

While the event exists to commemorate the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, you may have noticed that millions of people spread across dozens of nationalities have adopted the day with passionate loyalty, making it their core mission to drink at least one pint of stout in a pub or bar – it’s your job to help guests complete that mission. 

Recent ‘stout wars’ battled by suppliers across the sector mean that there is arguably even more interest in the dark beer so often linked with St Patrick’s Day, so 2024’s jubilations could be even bigger and better than ever. To state the obvious, for the love of Paddy, make sure your kegs are ordered in plenty of time, eh? Many city-centre pub goers are likely to be spilling out onto the pavement, as crowds jostle to partake in this cheery tradition, and we’d hate for them to have queued in vain.

You may also be interested in…