Punch Taverns has signed a deal with The Cloud to offer free Wi-Fi in its pubs throughout the UK.
The chain has been trialling the connections in a number of its venues, where it has seen a boost in business during quieter daytime periods from customers wanting to use the facility.
“This free initiative puts our pubs on a level with managed houses and national coffee and restaurant chains,” said Julie Clamp, machine development manager at Punch.
“We have already seen pubs making the most of the opportunity Wi-Fi offers by introducing meeting space for business users, adding or upgrading a coffee offer to increase dwell time, or adding social media followers through the use of Wi-Fi.”
Using free broadband to boost business
Susan King, manager of the Derwent Arms in Osbaldwick, near York, was one of the first to install the technology. She said it had helped the village as a whole.
“I’ve had free Wi-Fi in the pub for just over two months, and since it has been installed I’ve definitely seen the benefits,” she said.
“The Wi-Fi has been a real help, as everyone seems to be connected with the internet nowadays. I see a lot of young people, especially, coming in with smartphones and laptops, and they tend to stay longer because they can use the internet for free.
“I would definitely recommend it for any pub business. In fact, I believe it is a necessity.” said King.
Read more on Wi-Fi initiatives
Punch’s plan is to complete the roll-out by the end of March 2013 for the majority of its pubs – around 3,000 – and provide the free Wi-Fi for two years.
A spokeswoman from the firm said Punch would discuss its contract with The Cloud as the two-year mark approached, but made no guarantees what it would do when the deal ended.
“Based on this discussion, we will advise our partners on the various options available,” she said.
Serving Wi-Fi nationwide
Punch is not the first pub company to do business with The Cloud. The Wi-Fi provider has installations in almost 9,000 pubs, including the Wetherspoons chain, as well as restaurants, coffee shops and sports venues.
Vince Russell, managing director of The Cloud, said: "As the largest Wi-Fi provider to the pub industry, we’re seeing demand for Wi-Fi constantly increase. Use of our network nationwide has doubled in the past 12 months.