This month, hospitality tech around the country have united to support Victorian hospitality venues with their very own stimulus package. The idea has come together at supportmelbournehospo.com.au where the people behind some of the country’s most innovative hospitality tech solutions are doing what they can to get more dollars back in Victorian venues.
City of Melbourne data for 2018 showed the hospitality sector is worth $2.5 billion to Melbourne's economy each year. According to numbers from a survey by the City of Melbourne in June this year during lockdown, 15 percent of Melbourne hospitality businesses either confirmed they wouldn’t reopen, or weren’t sure they'll be able to keep running. "Only 45 per cent of our food businesses said they've been able to keep operating through the pandemic." said Lord Mayor Sally Capp.
Melissa Glentis, owner of Dilly Daly cafe in Chapel St South Yarra said "When initial restrictions came in at the start of March, we had already started to run on a reduced menu, however when lockdown hit we had to completely rethink our menu and how we operated. If we didn't do this there would have been so much wasted stock and we wouldn't have survived.”
“Prior to lockdown we usually made 50% of our weekly trade on the weekends, however with the restrictions in place we had to make the call to only operate on weekdays with evenings because we weren't getting the usual foot traffic on the weekend. Our menu changed from bottomless brunches to coffees and jaffles and we introduced an evening takeaway menu, however we were still hit enormously by these restrictions and overnight we saw an 89% reduction in sales.”
“We pretty much survived running at a 90% reduction in sales for 6 months but my sister and I worked hard to make sure that we would be able to continue to operate post lockdown, setting up new businesses to drive sales through other channels.”
“It hurts to know that a lot of businesses have had to shut permanently due to the lockdown measures. As a business owner I know what it's like to put everything into your business, but to have to close up would be heartbreaking.”
“We've been lucky to come out the other end - whilst weekdays are still slow with a lot of companies still working from home - we're so thankful to have our weekend trade back. With social distancing, we have 2 sittings on the weekend now. Pre-COVID we were able to seat 80 people indoors however now we can fit 30 people indoors and have also extended our outdoor dining area to cater to the restrictions.”
Recent Foodbomb statistics show that the average wholesale produce order value dropped by close to 30% during COVID-19. Even now that restrictions have lifted, social distancing requirements are still impacting venues with orders still on average 21% below the pre-COVID period which will make it a lengthy road to bounce back from the losses this year.
Technology companies in the hospitality industry including Foodbomb, Doshii, Resy, Skip, Eat Club, BarCats, Order Direct, and Quick Fuel, have quickly jumped on board to show their support and list offers that could help save very real cashflow dollars for Victorian venues as they work their way out of this tough year.
Wes Lambert, CEO Restaurant and Catering Australia said “Victorian hospitality venues are embarking on a long road back to normality after one of the most gruelling periods in history. R&CA, as the national peak body representing restaurants, cafes and catering companies is absolutely behind this new stimulus package which could mean the difference for some venues staying open or closing for good. For many businesses, it hasn’t been economically viable at all since March, with many only into their first week of trade since restrictions were relaxed further on 22 November. For them, every little bit helps”.
Foodbomb CEO Paul Tory says “There is a general consensus that a lot of venues are still being propped up by JobKeeper and that come March 2021, when this government subsidy ends (Source: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/jobkeeper-payment/), we'll see more venues struggle to make ends meet and eventually close. It's important now, more than ever, to support venues while they've got some time to get some positive cashflow going through summer.”
Different offers are listed on the #supportmelbournehospo website, ranging from discounts off wholesale food orders saving hundreds, if not thousands over the stimulus period, to free plans for popular operational venue tech, and everything in between with more offers being added each day as the word spreads.
Doshii CEO and Founder, Sean O'Meara, said “Now that venues are opening up again, being able to save on the operational costs, like digital menu based order and payment Apps, could help save time and money. We all can’t wait to experience bustling laneways again and return to our favourite venues in Melbourne post lockdown!"