In the 2022 Australian Hotelier Industry Leaders Forum, Porters Plainland Hotel co-owner and Melissa Porter discusses the pub’s strong service and sustainability focus.
Porters Plainland Hotel, a regional family-owned Queensland pub, cleaned up at last year’s QHA awards, taking out Regional Hotel of the Year, and other top gongs including best pub-style accommodation, best Keno venue, and Chef of the Year.
Co-owner and marketing manager Melissa Porter says the Regional Hotel of the Year award in particular was “definitely a highlight”.
“Not just for the past year but a nice feather in our hat for many years to come,” she says. “We try to do all the little things well. And our core focus is always customer service.
“We often say you can walk into any pub in Queensland and get almost the same parmy and you can get the exact same beer. So it’s our service that sets us apart. How we make people feel. And consistency in both product and service is important.”
Not surprisingly, Porter says, lockdowns have posed the biggest challenge over the past year. “Having to close the doors to your business with short notice and no real certainty as to when you can open them again is definitely not fun.”
Hotels don’t just sell food and beverages, but also fun and positive experiences, and offer real connection, she says. “No amount of pivoting, online offerings or gourmet meal kits will ever change this.”
That said, according to Porter,Covid has made a positive impact in a few small areas, such as expanding the venue’s online delivery service.
“We now offer food and drinks delivery in our local region and at one stage were the number one Bottlemart store in Australia for deliveries.
“And in our instance, being within the lucrative one-hour drive market from Brisbane has seen our local roads and regions busy with travellers and day-trippers.”
For the planet
The pub is also known for its extensive sustainability programs, and the venue built on this in 2021.
“We already had a 30kw solar system operating on the roof of our Bottleshop. And in late 2021 we added a brand new 66kw system on the roof of our new motel which is exciting,” Porter says.
“Our water-saving initiatives remain strong. The hotel has its own water treatment plant which currently recycles between 8,000 and 10,000 litres per day and has the capacity to recycle up to 18,000 litres per day. So we have room to grow here.
“The Hotel also has two 130,000 litre rainwater tanks and collects rainwater off most roof surfaces. The water is used to flush the hotel and motel’s many toilets.”
Next on the agenda is composting, says Porter. “It’s funny. Back in the 80s and 90s, we disposed of all food waste ourselves and then over time moved away from this due to increasing Health & Safety regulations.
“Now we want to loop back to disposing of food waste sustainably but do so in a compliant way. We also have a lot of land at our disposal. So, if any regional venues take care of their own composting have any tips, I would love you to get in touch and share your insights.”
In 2019 the venue undertook an expansion which more than doubled the size of the premises, leaving just a few small projects to work on such as a refurb of its main kitchen dry store, scullery and front service counter.
“In a few years we may look at adding more motel rooms, as our 17-room motel is experiencing healthy occupancy levels, and possibly adding a wedding chapel/multipurpose space on the green space adjacent to the hotel, but the latter two will be a few years in the making.”