A popular pub in my local area closed its doors in 2014.
Sitting on a prime block of land overlooking the bay, the owners made the decision to sell up. The time had come to clear the way for redevelopment – a multi-story apartment complex.
That was the plan. What the new developer hadn’t counted on was the uproar that erupted on social media, in local newspapers and in front of the venue itself once the news went public.
Were the local community upset they couldn’t get their hands on the pub’s cheap beers? No. Were they annoyed to see the end of the Tuesday Night Parma Special? No.
What flooded the pages of Facebook were stories of good times had over the years. Stories of relationships formed. Friendships galvanised. Stories of life partners who had met and fallen in love. People reminisced about the human connections they had formed with one another. They remembered how they felt inside that building.
And they lamented the loss of a place to connect within their local community. A place to share experiences with old friends. To grow connections with new ones. This was much more than mourning a favourite watering hole.
A well organised campaign was formed by the community to oppose the use of “their venue” in this way. The group sold stickers. Sold t-shirts. Raised funds. Rallied local politicians. Such was the impact of this venue on their lives that they felt compelled to express their disappointment at the proposal. Four years later they still do. And the doors and windows of our local pub remain boarded up while the fight for its future continues.
This is not a unique story.
Similar versions of this story have occurred hundreds of times all over the country. Watching the reaction this event generated reminded me of something important. Something at the core of the hospitality industry. Something bigger than good food and cold beer. It’s this;
Pubs and clubs exist to be the social hub of a community.
Have a little think about that.
This is what patrons expect from their local pub or club. It’s what has built the culture over more than a century and a half. These establishments are the places that families gather to eat and celebrate. It’s a place where friends meet up to hang out and share stories. Where groups of people come to be entertained. Where sports are viewed and wakes are held.
This is the essence of why people attend a pub or club, and why these venues are at the core of our national identity. More and more our social interactions are being found online. We’re turning to the internet for music, sports, friendship and romance. And we’re all a little poorer for it. The hospitality industry and its suppliers hold the key to turning the tide on this cultural shift, or at very least slowing it down.
We get to play a major role in society. It’s a blessing and a responsibility we need to take seriously.
It’s also an incredible opportunity for venues.
Because people still truly come to life when they are enjoying face to face interactions with friends and family.
Working in hospitality you have likely considered this at some stage. It may be the reason you got into the industry to begin with. Perhaps the idea of community resonates with you like it does with me. Perhaps you have always been a ‘people person’. Maybe you get a real kick out of providing great service to your patrons.
The best in the industry are acutely aware of their responsibility to be the social hub of their community. Every area of their business is forensically analysed and they never stop thinking about ways to improve their offering. They care about the experience they deliver to their patrons. They acknowledge their place in the local community and they live up to patron expectations in every way. This is how they stay ahead of the game.
Here’s the best part..
The more we fulfil our obligation to our community, the more likely we are to succeed. If we connect people, entertain them and provide them with a comfortable physical space in which to do these things then we will become integrated into their lifestyles and truly valued.
As the story of the closed pub shows, people remember the places where they made meaningful connections with one another. Venue Managers and staff who understand this principle and actively work at delivering upon it represent some of the most successful pubs and clubs in the country.
With this in mind, we’re excited to begin sourcing the best success stories from the Australian hospitality industry. Keep an eye out for more on how you can help your venue become the social hub of your community.