Live sports are a big part of hospitality businesses, and with the next few months packed with sporting action, from The Autumn Nations Series to The FIFA World Cup, venues across the UK are gearing up to welcome sports fans locally, nationally and internationally. Venues up and down the country are screening all the games, so individuals can watch every minute of the sporting action away from the stadiums, but still experience similar atmospheres.
One venue that has been prepping for The Autumn Nations, which kicked off last weekend, is The Turk’s Head, Twickenham.
The Turk’s Head is located a stone’s throw away from the home of England rugby… Twickenham Stadium. General Manager, Ollie Coulombeau and the team are preparing for England’s matches at Twickenham during the series, as well as screening all the other games, so fans don’t have to miss any of the action. The pub will be decorated for the occasion, with Nation’s flags hung around the main bar area, and all the TV screens set and ready to go.
To add to the atmosphere, on match days The Turk’s offers a pre-game VIP Clubhouse. This is a lunch available for 250 guests, where the Turk’s team transform an area of the pub into a Corporate Hospitality dining area, laying the tables with table clothes and napkins, and providing table service. The VIP Clubhouse must be pre-booked and adds a nice touch for those who want to experience similar to Twickenham Stadium’s offering.
Ollie said: “It is so special transforming the pub for match days. It goes from being a massive community pub into a behemoth sports pub. While the transformation is special in itself, showing all the games and decking out the pub with flags and decorations, contributes to creating a thrilling atmosphere for our guests.
“Being so close to Twickenham Stadium is great, especially when England is playing there. It makes such special moments for us and the guests as all the action is happening just down the road.”
As you can imagine, match days are very different to normal trading days at The Turk’s, and for the Autumn Nations and England’s Twickenham games, Ollie and the pub team will receive support from across the whole of Fuller’s. Staff size is upped, and the pub is busy from the moment doors open, to when they close. Also on match days, the pub aims to serve every customer quickly at the bar and prepare for this by putting popular beverages across more taps. The Turk’s sell lots of London Pride during match days, so Ollie always ensures they have enough and are able to make it readily available.
Ollie continued: “Match days are like no other experience; it is one of a kind. The atmosphere is electric, the pub is filled with guests, some in fancy dress and all in a great mood. We see many faces, with some customers coming to us for over 40 years, individuals that always come back to us for home games and those looking for a pub close to the stadium. Rugby is a huge part of who we are, and it is great to be able to share this with Rugby fans from far and wide.”
Ollie has been running The Turk’s for a few years now and worked his way to this role by completing Fuller’s Graduate Scheme. We asked Ollie a bit more about his time on the scheme to provide some of you who are aspiring to become General Managers an insight into this path.
What made you want to get into Fuller’s Graduate Scheme?
“I have always wanted to get into the hospitality industry and loved experiencing hospitality growing up. Although I started in the entertainment industry and got my degree in this, I knew I wanted to run my own business, with the idea of it being in hospitality. When I found out about Fuller’s Graduate Scheme it was a no-brainer, the company’s ethos, being a family-run business and the premium positioning in the market all appealed to me.
What did the Graduate Scheme involve?
“The Graduate Scheme I was on at Fuller’s was a fast track to hospitality management and was for two and a half years, then I went into my first pub. The scheme involved working within a number of different pubs, learning how to work in various different roles such as bar back, pot washer, barman and floor manager. With the learning and development department, I had one-to-ones on how to run a business. The scheme allowed me to learn about both Front of House and Back of House, which is important in being a General Manager.”
What influenced your love of hospitality?
“I grew up in a French family, where we had a love for food and drink and enjoyed dining out. I loved Sundays as me and my family would go to the pub for Sunday lunch and would enjoy being in the pub environment. I then got my first job in a pub when I was 18 and my love for hospitality evolved from there.”
Would you recommend Fuller’s Graduate Schemes?
“The Graduate Schemes that Fuller’s offers are a great opportunity for individuals looking for an alternative route into hospitality. There are different roles available, so it will allow you to decide what career path you want to follow. As you are learning about Fuller’s and its pubs, you get to work with all different types of people from different backgrounds and learn from their experience and knowledge. It is also a good opportunity as you can advance while on the job.”
What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to become a General Manager?
“I would say don’t close any doors, take every opportunity that comes your way. All the work and training you do on your journey to becoming a General Manager is not only adding value to the business but enables you to keep developing to become the best you can be.”
To find out more about Fuller’s Graduate Schemes, check out their website
Also, if you are still looking for a venue to watch the Autumn Nations, then why not visit The Turk’s Heads and experience the games at the heart of England rugby.