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What Do Aussie Punters Look Out For In A Hospitality Venue?

Words by Kavina.

Times are a’changin, and though we saw our hospitality scene thrive and grow at a pace that made our home dishwashers redundant because we were never there to fill them, the past two years have taught us about what it truly means to evolve in the face of a pandemic. Just as our venues have evolved to create a hospo experience in a time where social distance was the only vibe, and digital communication filled the gaps where customer service could not make its impact, our tastes and our wants have become a little more complex and a little more laid back along the way. 


We’re cautious when it comes to leaving our safety bubble but we’re here for knowing our venues on a deeper level! How nice! 


Here are our top reasons for what punters really think about when they’re visiting your venue in 2021, and it goes beyond the 2-for-1 drinks deal. 


But first, let me take you back to a simpler time, that seems a little cringe-worthy now 


Remember the days when a pumping venue and the cheapest pints used to be the deciding factors in achieving a great night out? The idea of a line down the block or the heaving moshpit were worthy battles which were ours for the conquering! We spent more days out than we did in our own homes, and another venue tried was awarded another notch on the old belt. Paying cash on the door, fast turnover, venue instagram account was not a factor in deciding to visit, let alone a mailing list, and old mate at that other pub recommended this one so you hopped on the tram and ended up here and then we digress… 


Half those things are illegal now in the face of an unending pandemic, sooo it sets the tone nicely for our first point!


1. Safety thirst!!! Or is it safety first? 


Just like the appreciation we have for street lamps which pathes home well lit and secure, the element of trust is currently the biggest factor in consumer choices and the reason many will stay away from frequenting venues, with a -15% trust rate which doesn't seem to be recovering according to KPMG’s Hospitality In A New Way study. While the world has started to find its way in retail and workplace environments, the fact which remains is that travel and entertainment see the fastest spread of COVID-19 in community transmission rates.  Leaving the house with a mask on is on-trend, frail oldies jump when someone sneezes from seasonal allergies and navigating your route to the supermarket involves taking the slightly longer back streets instead of the main road. 


Trust in your local venue to protect you from the nasties when you dare to leave your house for a period of relaxation is a big thing. Some of you will be scarred for life after the latest Melbourne lockdown after the Revs stretch down Chapel street along the five haunts punters have frequently visited on the same night, gave you a “oh my god, was that me or was I home that night?” sense of deja vu that you recovered from because you aren’t 19 anymore and literally cannot find the strength for an allnighter Revs circuit. 


2. Certainty in uncertain times 


For the first time in our post-baby boom generation lives, we can firmly attest to the fact that when the world is in strife and times seem uncertain, our natural defences strip back our wants and accentuate our needs. Deloittes international Future Of Hospitality study highlighted the lack of confidence in consumers in countries like good old New Zealand, even though the threat had minimised greatly for them, and Australia with 33% more confidence than the rest of the world. We are brave party people.  


What this means for hospitality is that there’s less of a personal motivation for punters to leave the neighbourhood to try new things, and theyre leaning into the businesses they are familiar with and continue to offer something consistent. When you live down the street from Banneton Bakery you don’t need to visit the other croissants in Brisbane, because you have the best neighbours ever. 


3. It ain’t all about the money


Household savings are up and yes you heard us rave about it in our last article about Aussies wanting to spend money at your venue. Pollstar stats confirmed that spending was diverted to home improvement, probably after going crazy from seeing the same floral wallpaper every day.  With conscious investment in a little more luxury, mostly out of boredom and staying in long enough to have the money to do so, resources were accumulated, even with JobSeeker/Keeper stimulus, and are yet to be spent back into the hospitality sector, with performance attendance at a wavering 10% capacity and recovering slowly. 


It’s been consensus amongst the best of our venues, and highlighted in our Muso Podcast with The Zoo owner Pixie Weyand, that we may have had to put our ticket prices up because of capacity restrictions but this hasn't stopped our best and dressed from coming out and participating in local events. Prior to COVID-19 complicating our fun times, the booming live entertainment industry was experiencing pretty impressive yearly ticket price increases with the addition of AR experiences, merch add-ons and highly interactive performance spaces by about $20 Aus dollar between 2017-18 according to Statista, and increasing, but no decrease in attendance. 


4. Sure the ticket prices have gone up, but the seats are a lot nicer! 


There's something to be said about the quality instead of the quantity of experiences, and for a lot of us, that means getting to spend more time seeing a band we like instead of waiting in line while dreading the state of the bathroom, actually seeing the band up close and remembering the experience more than the beer that was spilled down the back of my shirt. 


And don't think we haven't noticed all the venue upgrades, flourishing natural wine offerings, fantastic outdoor seating, and that really sad astroturf that's been here since you opened, now being replaced with some high-quality paving. 


5. What is your venue all about?


2021 is the year of really caring about stuff, - following on from Kylie Jenners “the year of realising stuff,” which means that your customers see into your souls, and demand to know what you represent. Whether it's inclusivity in all terms or a stance for local history preservation, the people want to know you, and they want to know that their limited time and resources are going to good hands. With industries swiftly cut in half, and the limelight on the collective hardships we all face on the daily, there's less tolerance for indifference as we all strive to work together to navigate these pretty weird times. 


You saw how hard Ellen fell, be nice to everyone!


6. Home is the hub, not ya local pub


After more than half a year of building up the habit to stay put, it looks like homelife is officially on-trend, according to 44% of our now well-adjusted population.  


1 in 5 people would STILL rather stay home than go out, and ‘Netflix’n chill’ is a lifestyle, not a novelty… I can vouch for this because of my newfound confidence in saying no to things without apologising first. The increased 40% ‘work from home’ dream lifestyle is now an ongoing reality that cuts office costs, benefits mental health, and even spares the environment from workweek fuel emissions. We don’t just get our takeaways delivered; we get our groceries, alcohol and Amazon weekly purchases right to our doorstep, which means that we leave the house for a social outting or some exercise, or in my case, a coffee and a run… fine, a beer and a run. 


Don’t despair though, with more people at home and within your local radius, this leaves you as the highlight of their day, and a bit of a holiday within the vicinity.


7. A digital life 


 Keep up Charlie, foot traffic, word of mouth, chalkboard specials… What even are they? The way to your evolving customer fanbase is now firmly in the hands of your social media hype team, a.k.a your loyal followers. According to KPMG, 45% said they would contact business via digital avenues going forward. Customers adapted by downloading the apps for contactless menu ordering, going online instead of calling you to make a booking, and now spend seconds instead of awkward minutes tying up the bill and adding a tip that you didnt have to ask for. Your new venue family is going to love you online long before they enter your doors. 


Contactless is in, and since efficiency and hygiene have found their interworkable commodity, just like hand sanitizer and hand cream - thank you Vaseline! There are now numbers of emerged health apps, which are synced up to customer entry points within venues. Because of a challenging social distance workspace, synchronizing apps to help with keeping spaces clean as well as visitors separate, means that dining, dancing, and bar crowding arent an issue that impedes a customer's actual visit. 


So there you have it.


 An incredibly fascinating snapshot of trends driving our decisions to step out and step into your favourite venues. To evolve is to thrive, and besides a few hangovers there’s been less illness due to our exceptionally clean venues, we’ve actually become besties with the local businesses around us. Since venues have upgraded their contactless systems and benefited from a less hectic customer service experience, customers in return are enjoying themselves much more, relaxing in your venues instead of waiting in crowded lines, and viewing your establishment as a vacation away from their home/work hubs. 


You guys are looking pretty good to me! 

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