How 4 South Australian Hospitality Venues Survived 2021 And Plan On Thriving COVID-19 In 2022
Hospitality and retail have been hit hard in South Australia as well as Australia by state government sanctioned COVID-19 lockdowns.
If that wasn’t bad enough (it was!), there was very little ongoing state and federal government financial support for the industry.
When you (and your industry) get legislated out of trading, arguably you should be compensated because it’s not market forces that are in the driver’s seat.
To make matters worse, when COVID-19 lockdowns eased, capacity remained low, again due to factors outside merchant’s control.
However, South Australian hospitality operators survived these harsh externally enforced measures.
They did so, and they plan on thriving in 2022 in a variety of ways…
Benjamin Matthew Oscar Pearce, General Manager of The Cumby said “we realized that the market was rife with barriers to bookings such as deposits or minimum spends/fees to ensure patrons attended and were less likely to cancel. We decided to do things differently: we capped our booking sizes to 20, had no deposits, no minimum spends/fees and simply asked guests to arrive on time. This prompted a fantastic word of mouth flow-on effect for us.”
Pearce wasn’t the only one, as Deb Tran, Owner of Matcha House explains: “In 2021 people had money to spend and they were stuck in Adelaide, but we decided to introduce a seating time limit which allowed us to increase turnover and my business was busier because of this.”
“We felt that many hospitality venues were resenting restrictions, so we had an intense focus on thanking all our patrons for supporting us and reminding them of restrictions in a friendly positive manner. Our intention was to work hard, be kind and have fun”, explains Pearce. “We didn’t renovate but we did a deep clean of the hotel and spent time on small improvements such as a retractable roof which saw a huge uptake in our winter bookings and interest for our beer garden.”
Rebecca Paris Managing Director at The Little Red Door said during the lockdowns they “had the opportunity to spend time renovating our premises, which then enabled us to change our business model and expand into new markets. It really gave us the opportunity to think outside of the square and get creative.”
To this point, The little Red Door ended up being SA’s first bar to accept cryptocurrency.
Melissa Rayner, Founder of The Foodprint Experience said they “took the extra time to revamp our website, develop new products and focus on what we could improve in the business by taking the opportunity to work on the business systems and operations and put into action ideas and creative projects that we hadn’t considered possible in such a short time frame.
This included using Google Voice Assistant to help streamline the ordering process.
She also “partnered with other organisations to deliver meals to vulnerable community and discovered innovative ways to adapt to the changing needs of our community.”
Similarly Benjamin Oscar Pearce said although they still “needed to be open for dine-in patrons, they added in take away meals and alcohol to the offering to serve more people without the burden of restrictions.”
Looking forward to 2022, Deb Tran, Owner of Matcha House plans on taking a similar approach next year: “In 2022, we plan to make more new products to sell and improve our online store to meet demand.”
Benjamin Oscar Pearce explained they are going to have “a strong focus on more premium dining for affordable pub prices, which means we’ll be looking to really invest back into the venue to secure a long-standing positive identity with our regular patrons.
Rebecca Paris is on board with the strategy too: “we will be looking at expanding our business more into corporate catering and utilising the premises in the downtime for other activities.”
Likewise, Ms Rayner “will continue to grow and market new products and services, expanding our reach to a broader audience.”
There you have it — a sample of ways in which hospitality vendors were able to survive 2021 and plan on thriving in 2022.
Throwing out the old norms, being kind, reducing friction, rewarding loyalty, implementing non-traditional product delivery, expanding to new markets and trying new business models!
Know someone in hospitality who has had the rug pulled out from under them due to no fault of their own? Or who would benefit from these ideas? Or someone who has done similar? Tag them in this article.