In the 1980’s sports bars offering satellite feeds and big screens were in their heyday. Long before hot wings became a national culinary staple, the attraction of exclusive sporting events and large format viewing devices became a proven combination.
Those days are gone. Today, the customer is likely to have a TV as big or bigger than any in the bar, and cable TV offers channels to address almost any interest – for a price.
Truth be told – the sports world is saturated with events, and there is little excitement found in predictable establishments blaring loud music, while twenty screens blink away at games nobody seems to be watching. It’s a tired and overbuilt industry.
Poorts offer a different strategy for filling those booths with repeat customers.
At first glance, a Poort seems to be one of those new restaurant tablets being ballyhooed by the major chains, and it does perform those functions. You can browse the menus, view high-res images of the food from a single tablet that doesn’t have to be passed around, recharged or sterilized daily.
This makes all kinds of sense on its own, but there’s something here that goes far deeper. This tablet is a jail-broken rebel that can pull up anything on the Net – including porn.
Is porn a deal breaker? Not at all, for bars that are adult facilities – one must think the opposite may be true.
Imagine for a moment that you are enjoying a pizza and some drinks with three friends in a Poort-equipped booth. You recently met these people, who all came from Europe, and you’re watching German soccer on Saturday morning, live from Frankfurt.
Later as the game winds down, you are wondering why you drank so much beer before noon, when one of your new companions brings up the PoortSide options.
“There are only two booths still open” he says, “are we going to watch Bayern next week?”
“Of course, and I’m bringing Rudi and Petra, so we’ll need two.” you reply without thinking, hoping that your wife will understand. “Here, let me use my login.”
Two things have happened here to set up this scenario. The first is that the restaurant chain has acquired streaming rights to events not available or affordable, when they require season-long subscriptions. So the chain is anticipating the move from broadcast or cable TV to Internet streaming by embracing the phenomenon early.
The second is that the Poort allows customers to reserve booths for future events right there before they leave, as well as via the PoortSide website. In practice this means that those customers who enjoyed the sessions most will renew the reservations, and keep the social ball rolling with their new companions – maybe bring along new people, to share the camaraderie that is the real driver for regular patrons.
This is why a pizza bar in St. Paul is loud with the sound of German cheering, not canned music, on a Saturday morning when it is usually closed. And the biggest smile is not on the face of the fans whose team won – it’s on the restaurant owner who watches his place running near capacity, booked in advance. His video conferencing sessions on the Poorts are growing too, with businessmen Skyping across the time zones.
Pizza for breakfast? Sure, with a stein of Bavarian draft, please.