By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
With Australia Day this year falling on a Tuesday, we spoke to a few hotel operators on how their venues performed on the public holiday.
There were no overall successes or failures this year for pubs trading on the Australia Day holiday earlier this week, with factors such as weather and promotions affecting the day’s numbers. Many hoteliers were happy with the crowds at their venues.
Locky Paech of Goodtime Hospitality was happy with how his pub, West Village, performed for it’s first Australia Day, saying: Australia Day is traditionally weather dependent and it’s difficult to predict for us being new to the Inner West. Our lunch service was massive, similar to a really busy Saturday or Sunday lunch. We had a good mix of families, the hospo crowd and even engagement drinks, which meant a really nice vibe all day. As usual, with mid-week public holidays the night trade dropped off early. We were really happy with the result. Monday night was definitely up too (approximately 35%)!”
Michael Dixon of Dixon Hospitality, put down the success to his large portfolio of Melbourne venues to different events held at each one.
“Australia Day was exceptionally good. The local crowds at each venue really embrace the day as a patriotic celebration with lots of fun and games. Each venue that hosted a different type of event, whether it be a lamington eating contest or music trivia, was really well embraced and everyone was well behaved. The younger crowds certainly didn’t mind staying on post dinner for a drink and dance.”
Not all pubs felt the increase in trade for the holiday, due to the awkward positioning of the holiday – meaning that Monday evening was more reminiscent of public holiday trading. Turnover at The Game Sports Bar in Perth, for example, doubled on Monday. Many publicans also felt that Australia Day is positioned as a day for home entertaining.
“I find Australia Day to be similar to Grand Final Day – people host barbecues at home, and given the penalty rates we go very low key on these two events, said Lucas Reid, owner of the Cally Hotel in Warrnambool.
“It was a bit of a fizzer, but Monday was good because people from Melbourne took RDOs or vacation days.”
With Australia Day next year falling on a Wednesday, it will be interesting to note whether pubs trade well then.
Says Dixon: “When public holidays away from the Christmas period fall on a Wednesday, this can really hurt the business as they are left in ‘no-mans land’. It’s too late [in the week] to have a sick day on the Monday and too early to have the Friday off.”