Now that bingo halls have been open for just over a week, BingoDaily thought it a good time to catch up with the legendary Catherine Warrilow, Head of PR at Mecca Bingo owners the Rank Group, to see how the first week has gone for the popular bingo retailer.
BD – One week on, What has been the response to Mecca bingo halls reopening on May 17th?
It’s been fantastic – our staff and our customers equally have been so glad to be back. If you saw some of the video footage on the day, our customers were just over the moon to be able to get out and socialise again and felt reassured and comfortable in our venues with all of the COVID measures we have in place.
BD – Any Mecca clubs yet to reopen?
We have two – Bridgwater has been delayed a little longer than we hoped because of some routine maintenance work that lockdown slowed us down on – that should be open this summer. And Luton, which we are actually giving a bit of a makeover to and will be open towards the end of the year – both will be well worth the wait and in the short term, we have a free bus running from Bridgwater to Taunton and Luton to Stevenage.
BD – What has the footfall been like, better, worse or as expected?
It’s been really positive – it’s far too early to make any predictions but we’re really happy to see longstanding customers return as well as new customers coming to try bingo for the first time.
BD – Have older patrons stayed away as feared?
No, we’ve actually seen the opposite. There will always be a level of caution and some will choose to come back at a later date, but in our opening weeks, we’ve seen the majority of our customers come back. We even threw a surprise birthday party for our lovely Betty, a customer who has been visiting our Scarborough club for 50 years – she just turned 97 years young!
BD -How much was paid out on an opening day and in the opening week? Total so far this year
We’ll hit a total of £5m at the end of May. On opening day alone we gave away £400k!
BD – Any big wins? Success stories you can share?
We had three big winners of nearly £10k each and over 50,000 winners a week, every week since we reopened. Our 1960s prices night on was a big success as was our fancy dress night celebrating our 60th birthday so we’ll look to do more of these over the summer.
BD – Are there any special promotions at the clubs?
Absolutely – in June there is a lot to look forward to from a free pint on Father’s Day right through to £100k guaranteed in jackpots on National Bingo Day on June 27th. We’ll have another 1960s prices night and on June 12th it’s Supershare Saturday – which means there is an extra £50k prize draw up for grabs across our clubs. We also have a few other surprises in store so you’ll just have to wait for those!
BD – Have the celebrations for Mecca’s 60th started? If so, what has taken place. If not, when can expect the fun to begin?
They have indeed and we’ll be celebrating all year! We’ll have ongoing 1960s prices nights and themed nights as well as plenty of other surprises, we’ll just have to keep you in suspense!