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How the hospitality industry can come out stronger post COVID-19

Calling all hospitality and venue owners. Now is a time to plan and tackle the things you rarely have the time or headspace for. We chat with our friend and hospitality industry expert Bree Wailes of We Surge for insights and advice about this truly unexpected time.

Pipit fine dining restaurant, Pottsville

As much as the current global crisis is disrupting and upending many businesses, now more than ever is a time to take a pause, plan and strategise for a stronger future. That is not to downplay the impact that the hospitality sector is facing, as Bree Wailes, founder of hospitality and events training company We Surge says, “As we all know, venues have closed, event managers, wedding planners, marketing managers and many hospitality staff have lost jobs.”

Bree Wailes, founder of We Surge

The current global crisis has forced the hand of many venue owners to rethink how they’re businesses are structured. Looking for silver linings amongst what is a stressful time for many, Bree reframes the conversation, “On a positive note for businesses, this is giving them a safe opportunity to restructure their organisational chart to create better efficiencies within their business along with the opportunity to upskill their staff upon reopen.”

It also presents an opportune time to look at building or refurbishment works, as well as things like rebranding. Given that the design and construct process can take several months once you factor in design development, planning applications and council approvals – all of which are still happening – by the time the world is ready to emerge from lockdown, you could have a completely refreshed restaurant, bar or café ready to welcome the hungry hoards. And this is exactly where whitewood can come in, bringing expert guidance in this unprecedented time.

Bree agrees that design is something that should not be overlooked. “More than ever design will be an important aspect for hospitality and event spaces. Upon reopening, the industry will be at a dramatic loss with cancelled and postponed events and it will be a very tough job to make back the money in a short period of time. Businesses should be using this time to focus on more of a proactive approach, as enquiries will be down. Venues should be hosting virtual site inspections and utilising the design to their advantage as a point above the rest of their competitors.”

Sushi Kenzen, Brisbane

The hospitality owners that will continue to thrive into the future are the ones that Bree says “adapt, adapt, adapt” now. It’s completely normal to have had a decrease in enquiries and sales in the current market but it’s also important to continue to adapt each day. “Can you reinvent your offerings without causing an effect on your gross profit? The most important thing is to keep moving and shifting each and every day. Be present in the digital world and don’t stop developing the business,” states Bree.

While the most obvious reaction to the current pandemic would be to cut spending wherever possible, smart owners know that the best time to scale is during a downturn, if their capital allows it.

As hard as it might be to see the light at the end of the tunnel, Bree considers what life might be like post COVID-19, sharing, “I think we’ll see a lot more understanding, a little less spending, but business will be more resilient and more structured than ever. Those businesses who come out the other side in a better position than others will be the ones that have worked hard now in the down time.”

If you're considering a design project for your café, bar, restaurant or venue, reach out to the whitewood team for a chat. Or take a look at our newly launched online packages, which can streamline the process.

And visit Bree's website for all Event Sales Training Courses and Hospitality Consulting.

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