Venues across Melbourne are reopening their doors after the latest two week lockdown and Stevan Premutico the Founder and CEO of me&u has told The Shout that venues across the country will feel the benefit.

Using me&u’s data for venues across the country to look back at consumer behaviour after previous lockdowns, Premutico said there were three big things that have been learned over the past 14 months.

“One, as an industry we are bloody resilient, we’re just a bloody resilient bunch,” he told The Shout. “It takes much more than a couple of knockdowns to knockout this industry. As an industry we fight together, we rallied together and we move forward together, and I think you can see that well and truly across the country.

“We’ve had a trifecta of hits, we’ve been hit by COVID, we’ve now been hit by winter and we’re being hit by massive labour challenges, but the industry just keeps going. We keep finding ways to move forward, to survive and thrive together and that’s probably the biggest thing that we are seeing.

“The second thing we are seeing is that periods of isolation make us value hospitality more than ever. We’re locked up at home where we’re drinking beers and eating pizza. Once the gates are open and we can get out again, the first place we go to is the pub with some mates to have a few beers and to celebrate that we are out and we are free again.

“For us that demonstrates that hospitality is the fabric of this nation and what binds humans is these great social experiences. We are sick of being isolated and we want to get out to the pub and have a few beers with some mates.

“The third learning for us is that we are seeing that technology can definitely be part of the saviour. It’s no longer sitting on the side, tech can help deliver a contactless experience, it can help get rid of dirty menus and it can help customers feel safer in venues. We truly believe that tech can be part of the answer to an industry that is on its knees.”

Looking forward in terms of predictions of what will happen as a result of the gates opening in Melbourne, Premutico said there will be gains Australia-wide, not just in Melbourne.

“Once Melbourne comes out of lockdown we can expect a massive spike there, but you’ll also see a rising tide effect, and sales across Australia will be up,” he said.

“[We’ll also see] lots of beers and tequilas as customers are out celebrating again. Last time, so back on 19 February we saw a 20 per cent spike in Melbourne and interestingly tips jumped 24 per cent, so we are definitely expecting a massive spike in sales.”

Premutico did add a note of caution, telling The Shout: “What I will say is that I think customers in Melbourne are going to be more cautious this time round than last time. Last time there had been three weeks of no cases, and this time we are opening the gates at a time when there are still some local cases.”

The increase in tips is a positive for hospitality staff, and Premutico said: “The tipping point is interesting, because what I think that shows is that we love hospo. We value the fact that these great people are opening doors for us, serving us and making us feel welcome and allowing us to socialise again and it’s a way for Australians to let the people who serving know how grateful we are for them and for hospitality.”

And with the news that Melbourne is reopening with seated service only and maximum of 50 people, Premutico reminded venues just how tech like me&u can help both in terms of staffing and patron experience.

“There is a huge problem at the moment with people just not being able to find staff, and if it takes longer to place your order then inevitably that’s going to deflate the customer experience, especially if you’re on a time-limited booking,” he said.

“So what we are trying to do is free up the front of house team to be focused on the experience and allow the me&u app to take the customer order. This just helps the customer to not feel like you are two staff members down on a Saturday night.

“And if venues are putting 90 minute time limits on a booking then customers don’t want to spend 15 minutes not chatting with everyone because someone is taking ages to order the food. But also being able to order quickly is not only a great customer experience because they are spending more time with their friends, it’s also crucial for venues in terms of being able to turn tables quickly without making people feel like they are being rushed.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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