(Published in Bar Business Magazine)

Twice this month I’ve arranged to meet friends for lunch ‘somewhere mutually convenient’ (i.e. a nice pub about halfway between our houses, but in an area we’re not familiar with). That’s involved a lot of Google Maps time, trying to eliminate the dives and find that just-right gastro pub. A place with space for the kids to run around and a selection of ales on tap for the dads.

In today’s world full of artisanal cafes and trendy popups, the pub remains culturally rooted as the place where we meet. Be it for a casual get-together, a first date or an epic party, a really good pub can be much more than simply ‘the local’.

Virtual tours for pubs

These are the times when a virtual tour sets a pub apart from the crowd. It’s about growing the catchment area for people who don’t live round the corner. Or reassuring someone making a group booking or organising a party from a distance.

After all, having invested in the overstuffed leather banquettes and the copper piping, exposed the brickwork and tiled the beer garden, you might as well show it off to as many prospective customers as possible.

Research by Best Western found that properties with a virtual tour won 48% more bookings than those without, so increasingly this is something users expect to see.

Pubs already doing it

We’ve had great feedback from off-high-street places like The Garden Shed Pub, who wanted to attract customers from further afield and show off their new look. And from pubs who are keen to promote their other services, such as The Truscott Arms who offer fine-dining upstairs and function rooms for weddings and corporate events.

In all cases, with virtual tours on Google Maps allowing anyone anywhere in the world to visit anytime, ‘the local’ has got a lot less local. world to visit anytime, ‘the local’ has got a lot less local.