It’s the biggest event to hit Australian shores in years, and the Commonwealth Games is set to be a boon for the restaurant industry. But what can eateries do to capitalise on this?
A Griffith University study forecast 672,000 visitors will come to the Gold Coast during the games, to be held from April 4 to 15. Of those about half will be day trippers from South East Queensland and Northern NSW, around 265,000 will be domestic overnight visitors and 50,000 will come from overseas. That’s set to bring a $320 million boost to the tourism sector.
“A large chunk of that will be spent in restaurants,” Gold Coast Tourism Corporation spokesman Dean Gould says.
The organisation has hosted several events for restaurants over the past few months giving advice on how they can prepare for the games and providing information, and recently produced a document with helpful tools, such as buying official merchandise to decorate windows with flags, buntings and posters.
The Queensland Government has also extended trading hours while the games are on and made special conditions surrounding liquor licensing so restaurants can stay open longer.
Gould says various country teams and country support groups are making different parts of the city their home, and restaurants in the vicinity can put up flags for that country and add cuisine from that nation to the menu to entice them. “There will be a real flavour to each of the precincts where teams are staying,” he says.
But Michelle Mason, who is director of marketing company Social Tap, says it’s important for restaurants to have realistic expectations about the impact the games will have on their business.
“Traditionally there are businesses that do really well out of a big event like this and there are some that don’t do very well because their local crowd may leave town,” she says. “I think the key message is accepting the market you know today is unlikely to be the market there during the two weeks of the games.”
Mason recommends restaurants use Commonwealth Games hashtags on social media posts, including #gc2018 and #wearegoldcoast, and also researching hashtags for their local area. They can also consider targeted advertising on Facebook to people who are currently visiting the location. “Google is also going to be a good place for people to start looking for restaurants, so make sure your google map listing is up to date with the correct opening hours,” she says.
Another tip is to show you’re getting into the spirit things with special promotions. “Venues can have a lot of fun with their menu,” she says. “If you’re close to the athletics stadium you could introduce a Marathon Burger during the games, for example.”
JP Duitsch, who is director of Pan-Asian restaurant Mamasan Kitchen + Bar, says the marketing manager for the shopping centre the restaurant is located in, the Oracle Boulevard Broadbeach, has organised an international beer promotion. “Each restaurant will feature a beer from a Commonwealth country competing in the games, and being an Asian restaurant, we will be serving Tiger beer from Singapore,” he says. “We are also thinking of doing some pop-up events with some suppliers and a pop-up bar.”
Duitsch says he may alter the menu slightly to connect with the games, and depending on the availability of produce over the period. “If certain things aren’t available we will have to delete them from the menu,” he says. “We’ve had discussions with our major suppliers because access in and out of Broadbeach will be slightly restricted. We will only be able to get deliveries at certain hours of the day very early in the morning. We’ve hired some mobile cool rooms so that we can hold some extra stock should emergencies occur or a truck can’t get into Broadbeach.”
The centre also has two residential towers consisting largely of holiday apartments and Duitsch is already noticing people arriving that are working for the Commonwealth Games or otherwise linked. “The convention centre, which will host the international media, is just across the road,” Duitsch says.
“We expect not only visitors to the games but also a lot of people working behind the scenes. The other day I was talking to some guys contracted by the BBC who will be here for three or four months installing all the infrastructure they will need. We are also getting a lot of enquiries from large corporations and emails from PAs and secretaries to see whether we have the capacity for their size of group, but we’re trying to cap group numbers so we can host regular customers that walk in.”
Duitsch says he is lucky he has a lot of part-time and casual staff he can call on to do extra shifts, and has spoken to them about the logistics of getting to and from work. “A lot of these kids either drive or catch public transport,” he says. “Parking in the area is going to be almost impossible so I have suggested they leave their car at home, but also there will be changes to public transport so I have told them to call to check what time their bus is leaving and to be aware trams are going to be extra busy so to allow plenty of time.”
The Collective Palm Beach plans to have a life-sized beach volleyball court set up for anyone who wants to jump in and have a game. “It’s just a bit of fun for our customers whilst they are dining,” sales and events manager Belinda Houlihan says. “We will be running a friendly competition on Saturday April 14 and customers can enter teams for a round robin Olympic showdown, with prizes to be won. We will also have the games being shown on a big screen in the garden, kicking off with the opening ceremony on the evening of Wednesday April 4.”
The venue will also be running its popular school holiday kids’ club program throughout the two weeks. “We will have all our usual kids cooking classes with pizza and cookies along with fun Olympic sports round robins of table tennis, bowling and sack races,” Houlihan says. “The Collective will have a really fun festival vibe throughout the games and we look forward to welcoming locals and new faces to celebrate this exciting time with us.”