You’ll also find around 30 screens showing the best of the action on BT Sport and a multi-award winning manager who loves a Box Office event. In fact, Lee Price’s ability to turn late-night shows such as Conor McGregor’s recent comeback fight against Cowboy, into huge trading opportunities has landed him the BT Sport Manager of the Month award for January.
It joins his impressive haul of prizes, which also includes the highly coveted BII Licensee of the Year title along with multiple Best Bar None wins.
Lee, who started working at the Pier as a student bar worker 25 years ago, says: “It is a genuine privilege and an honour to be recognised as a BT Sport Manager of the Month.
“Awards are important because they are a nice pat on the back from the industry to say we recognise what you are doing. It’s important for the staff and customers to know that they are in the right place.” And when it comes to Pay Per View events they can be confident that the Royal Pier is exactly the place to be.
Big boxing and UFC fight are always shown in the Royal Pier’s 24-hour licence pub, the Inn on the Pier and, if there is extra demand, in the 650-capacity nightclub (below).
Conor McGregor’s comeback fight is a great example of how The Pier makes the most of Box Office. More than 150 people were in the Inn to watch a fight that didn’t start until gone 5am.
Pay Per View has always been a big part of the business because the Box Office events draw the biggest crowds. I don’t recall the first one we did because it has been so long and it’s such an integral part of our offering.
“The best events we have had on are those very late spectacular shows – Wilder vs Fury, Conor McGregor – the edge of the seat stuff that people want to watch in the pub,” says Lee.
“The atmosphere for the Conor McGregor vs Cowboy fight was electric. There was huge excitement and anticipation about his return to the Octogen. People wanted to see him win as well as the theatre, drama and razzamatazz that’s associated with Conor McGregor.
“The crowd reaction when he pulled off that emphatic victory was unbelievable.
It’s about that atmosphere that can’t be replicated in a dark living room at 5am. It has to be enjoyed and experienced in a pub. It’s the next best thing to being at the event itself.
And Lee is predicting an even bigger night for the Pier when Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury face off for the second time on February 22.“Tyson Fury is the gift that keeps on giving,” smiles Lee. “We expect to see a full pub of people watching that event.”
Screening late night Box Office events have played an important role in establishing the Pier’s reputation for live sport. As well as boxing and UFC they also welcome fans of football, rugby and cricket.
Lee continues: “Pay Per View events are an integral part of our offer and were important for us to establish ourselves as a credible, serious-minded venue that is committed to sport. Box Office is the cherry on the cake and allows us to do that.
“We want to stand out from our competitors and it sends out a clear message to our customers that we are committed to sport.”
Not that putting on late night events are without their challenges, such as staffing, considering security and ensuring customer are kept entertained before the main events. Lee offers some advice to businesses thinking about dipping a toe in the Box Office market.
“You have to give serious consideration as to whether it suits the nature of your operation – can you encourage that dwell time by plugging the gap with a speed quiz, bingo, or a band or DJ to get you through that lull before the big event?
“Do a soft survey. Ask your customers if they want to see it. Try it. Once you get a flavour for the atmosphere and the numbers it can bring then you might adapt the offer.”
Lee opts not to ticket Box Office events, which he says helps to get the sports fans in early.
“They want to secure their place and get their bum on the barstool,” he says.
“Anything that increases dwell time and spend is the way to go. Because our pub offers Box Office entertainment free of charge they know they have got to get there early to secure their seats.”
Another important part of the offer is letting people know about events through social media. His preferred channels are Twitter and Facebook and he makes the most of the assets available to BT Sport business customers.“We are tuned into the BT Sport channels, their social media and their social assets, so we can capture the flavour of the moment and use the same hashtags and share as much information as we can.
“There’s no better social media than the broadcaster themselves. If you capture that mood and share it, it builds the hype for box office events.”
It equates to great nights that bring in business at times when there is little else happening in the venue.
“BT Box Office strikes a good balance between the cost to the customer and us being able to deliver a great value for money event for our end user.
“BT Sport is hugely important to our business because it helps us establish a first class offering of visual entertainment that our customer demands and expects,” he adds.
The BT Sport trophy will now be displayed proudly in the Inn. As part of the prize, Lee also wins a voucher for £1,000 to spend in the BT shop.
He joins licensees from all corners of the UK to win a BT Sport Manager of the Month trophy. Recent winners include as Iris McBride from McBride’s on the Square in Comber, Stuart Green at Twickenham’s Cabbage Patch, Denise Coyne at The Sibthorpe Arms in Hertfordshire and Steven Samson at The Merchant in Glasgow.
- Do you have what it takes to be a BT Sport Manager of the Month winner? Tell us why on Twitter, using the hashtag #BTMOTM, and you could be in with a chance of winning the prize and a visit from the BT Sport crew.
- For more information on upcoming BT Sport Box Office events such as Wider vs Fury II call 0800 678 1065