Look to the east for cup of good cheer

Stumbling through this disrupted autumn – more a season of blanketing fog and shrivelled windfalls than one of mists and mellow fruitfulness – we can at least look forward to one of the highlights of the hospitality industry’s year.

Money may be tight (skyrocketing energy bills, potentially horrifying rises in mortgage payments…) but the drinking, eating and partying public will always find a way to celebrate Christmas and New Year. It may be there’s more incentive than ever to get out and enjoy the ‘Festive Season’ before the heavy gloom of winter really kicks in.

Even better, there’s a month-long extra reason to be optimistic – and, perhaps in line with tradition, it comes in the form of something bright and shining appearing in the Middle East. We’re talking World Cups here. More specifically, the 2022 version which kicks off in Qatar on November 20th.

It’s a four-week festival of football (nice PR-speak there) which will draw a global TV audience of billions and, thanks to the involvement of England and Wales, represents a huge hospitality opportunity.

Match timings are spot-on for Britain: kick-offs range from 10am to 7pm for group fixtures and from 3pm to 7pm as the tournament builds to the final on December 18th.

The problems surrounding the choice of Qatar as a World Cup venue have been well documented but, once England take the field against Iran on the second day of the tournament, all that will matter to the great viewing public is what happens on the field. That’s a 1pm kick off on a Monday and is followed by Wales v USA at 7pm the same evening.

Wales play Iran at 10am the following Friday, with England taking on USA at 7pm that evening. And the big one – England v Wales – is a 7pm kick off on Tuesday, November 29th – again at 7pm.

Obviously, the hope is that both teams progress to the knockout stages, which will mean maximum interest is maintained. But whatever the outcome, the numbers of fans wanting to come together to watch all matches will be massive. There will be oversized screens set up in cities and towns around the country, but the fact that this World Cup takes place at the start of winter is big news for hospitality venues. Given the choice of a wet and windy town square or a warm, dry bar with plenty of fluids available, it’s a no-brainer.

So, time to get planning. The match timings work well for licensed premises and the need for extensions of hours will be limited to breakfast sessions for occasional games. But variations – setting up outside screens, temporary outside spaces, checks and amendments to the number and safety of customers – will need looking at fast. It’s no good advertising screenings and special deals until the licence is in place.

That’s where Complete Licensing comes in. We are experts at dealing with all aspects of a temporary change to licence conditions and we, too, will be at the top of our game ahead of the World Cup.

That December 18th end date means some clever juggling will be needed to fit in pre-Christmas events and, again, we can help with any questions. That’s not to mention New Year. Or, come to think of it, Thanksgiving: time to get creative in a difficult business climate.