Live sporting fixtures are often a great opportunity to get people through the doors. Home fans may be the bread and butter, but don't overlook the travelling supporters, who will be after a friendly welcome and somewhere to rest their weary heads.

With the Principality Stadium (still better known as the Millennium to many) in the heart of the city, Cardiff is undoubtedly one of the country's sporting capitals.

Not only does it host the Grand Slam winning Welsh national rugby union side but it has also been the venue for numerous major events such as the 2017 Champions League Final.

And with Cardiff City in Premier League football and the city also home to the Cardiff Blues, this is a place that knows how to welcome away fans.

Doing so can bring challenges but it is also an opportunity that operators such as Brains use to their advantage.

The pub and brewer has 18 venues in Wales with accommodation, and the half of those that are based in and around Cardiff are normally packed for sporting events.

One is the recently refurbished five-bedroom boutique pub and hotel The Maltsters (bedroom below) in the village of Llandaff, just outside Cardiff.

Here's how they make away fans feel at home.

 

 

1. Choose your sport

Not all sporting fans want the same things from events so consider how your offer can best suit their needs.

Wales has strong links with rugby as does Brains so it makes sense for them to focus their attention in this area.

Elliot Price Clee is Brains' revenue manager with responsibility for the 18 hotels and pubs with rooms. He says: "The rugby internationals are a big driver for us. We find that travelling fans will come and make a weekend of it. With the football they often come for the match and then go back home."

 

2. Know your fixtures

Whether you go for rugby, football or whatever sport brings people to your area, make sure you keep on top of the fixtures.

As soon as fixtures are revealed travelling fans will be looking for the best deals they can find on rooms. This means you need to know when things will be announced and keep a close eye on cup competitions which have draws throughout the year.

Elliot adds: "Different fans behave in different ways. We find the Scottish fans book as soon as the fixtures come out.

"We think this is because they want to secure the best places in the city centre or repeat where they have stayed before or because they are looking for a bargain. English fans tend to shop around more and will leave it until later."

 

 

3. Target advertising

To capture the attention of England fans nearer to matchdays, Brains uses targeted advertising on booking agent sites.

This means that, for a fee, you can ensure people using sites in certain parts of the country will see what you have to offer. For example, Brains would target an area such as London ahead of England playing in Cardiff.

 

4. Think weekend

Most sports fans are only going to be in your area watching sport for one day, apart from those lucky few who can go to every day of a test match.

This could potentially make it difficult to book out rooms for all of the weekend. Brains addresses this by insisting that rooms are only booked on two night deals.

"We do a minimum stay for two nights," says Elliot. "This can be for room and breakfast or there is a room only option."

 

5. Let demand set your rate

A high demand for rooms can give you more flexibility around pricing. It's unlikely that you will pay the same for a pub room in Henley in July as in any other month.

Brains says that its pricing is in line with other operators in the area when home rugby internationals are on.

 

6. Spread the word

Using booking agents is one way of getting your business in front of people's eyes but there are other ways of targeting specific groups or areas. Boosting Facebook posts allows you to do just that but don't overlook traditional media such as local newspapers.

Brains links up with other international stadiums and their publications to let fans know that when they come to Cardiff there is somewhere for them to stay.

 

 

7. Be passionate about the sport

If fans are staying with you they may want you to share some of their enthusiasm for their chosen sport.

Even though they may be heading to the stadium, make sure the game is live in the pub and that you show more of the same over the weekend. It gives them another reason to come back to you for a drink before they hit the hay.