Just the ticket – INN CROWD at The Kings Head, Orford

To have the ability to have art performed in a small and intimate environment is so different to what most people have experienced and is gives your customers a unique experience.”

Great reviews for benefits of INN CROWD shows from Suffolk publicans

Ian and Suzanne Ballantine, publicans of Adnams’ tenancy The Kings Head in Orford, Suffolk, The Kings Head, Orford (thekingsheadorford.co.uk), have positive reviews for working with INN CROWD on live shows at their village pub.

The pair, who have been running their community spirited pub for nearly nine years, have a strong focus on entertainment at the pub including live music nights, quizzes and food theme nights.

The Kings Head has a quality food and drink offer and three letting rooms to attract in customers, but with its coastal location and less than 600 people living in Orford, it is largely a destination business during the summer, but a pub for locals whatever the season.

Help drive trade at quieter times

To help attract locals in at quieter times of year the Ballantines host INN CROWD shows, with The Kings Head having previously hosted ten shows and performances coming up in 2023 too.

The pub has hosted INN CROWD shows in its main bar, which is an adaptable space, as well as during Covid hosting performances in the pub’s car park, so people could enjoy the shows out in an open space.

The Ballantines always aim to put on three or four INN CROWD shows a year, usually in September, November and the end of Feb/early March. They have also hosted outside shows in July in the pub’s garden. Publican Ian says: “It is good to have a mix of summer and winter shows.”

Attendee numbers for the pub’s INN CROWD shows have ranged from 20 up to 60 people, with the events predominantly attended by locals.

Offer customers a unique experience

Ian says: “We put the shows on at quieter times of year to give customers something different to visit us for. You can make money out of the shows, but for us the primary reason for hosting is to attract people in. The nearest places to us to go to the theatre are some distance, so having a show on at your local pub is a much easier place for local people to see something.”

He adds: “To have the ability to have art performed in a small and intimate environment is so different to what most people have experienced and is gives your customers a unique experience. The feedback from customers on the shows is always great and we are always being asked when the next show is on.”


Shows for pubs of all sizes

The wide variety of shows available from INN CROWD means most types of pubs will have the right space to host a performance, even quite small and intimate venues.

Ian says: “Some of the productions are better for smaller audiences and some for bigger, so it depends on the show what space you need. But the INN CROWD team always give excellent advice on what will work for your pub.”

The Kings Head offers the INN CROWD shows free of charge to attendees, but often link in a food deal to help drive sales around them, such as ‘Pie, Pint and Play’ for £15. For outside shows it has hosted, the pub successfully offered pre-ordered £12 picnic boxes which were delivered to people in their seats before the show.

Brings people back

A core of a dozen people come to most of The Kings Head’s plays and events. But Ian says: “One of the main benefits is it also helps attract new people in who come back and use the pub at other times too. For example, four people who came to our last INN CROWD show booked for our next food theme night. The shows have a positive business benefit. You definitely get knock on business from them.”

Team enjoyment

As well as the huge enjoyment of the INN CROWD shows by customers at The Kings Head, another reason why the Ballantines keep rebooking the shows in that they and their team also really enjoy hosting them.

Ian says: “We and our team members love it and staff will often request to work if a show is on.  Often performers will get the staff involved, such as Teatro Vitro with ‘The Regulars’, who got our young barman involved which both he and the audience loved.”

Show marketing ideas

The publicans use a range of tactics to market the shows, including flyposting lamp posts in the village, engaging fellow publicans in other local pubs to put show posters up in their pubs and highlighting the shows on social media. The publicans also sometimes share news of the shows with local press, who will sometimes highlight forthcoming shows. They also try to market the next show on show night.

Ian says: “It is an absolute doddle to put on a show. Lots of the publicity work is done by INN CROWD, who produce great quality posters to help you promote the show and send great info on the show and performers to you to use too.”

INN CROWD recommended to other pubs

The Ballantines say they highly recommend INN CROWD shows to other publicans. Ian says: “I have recommended INN CROWD shows lots to other publicans. They are really good.”

He adds: “The shows are a talking point, and as they help attract a different audience to just your regular drinkers, it helps spreads the word about your pub wider too.”


Ian’s Top Tips on Hosting

  • The requirements from performers are minimal. They might need a table or a power socket, but the requirements are very low level with nothing that publicans won’t have.
  • Try and put a show on at first with a view to not trying to make lots of money out of it. Just relax and don’t set too high expectations. Enjoy it. There will be benefits to hosting the shows. See what happens.
  • Link in a food offer that suits the event.

The host touring scheme for the Kings Head is Creative Arts East. INN CROWD is funded by Arts Council England.

The lead partners are Applause Rural Touring, Creative Arts East and the National Centre for Writing.

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