Posted by HJUK
I recently spent a debaucharous few weeks travelling through Hong Kong and Australia with a famous band. No, really, I did. The lifestyle of such an escapade has the added bonus of spending a LOT of time in pubs, bars and restaurants. So what’s happening “Down Under”?
They’re lovely, no, really, really lovely. Having spent a lot of time in the good old US of A, where tipping (and tipping big) is practically mandatory, one thing that struck me about the Aussies is the genuine and heartfelt service delivered by bar and waiting staff. In Australia, these valued team members are paid well- no minimum wage earners here- in fact, they earn such a good salary that tipping is not widely encouraged. There is often a “tip jar” on exit in outlets, and obviously an extra “thanks for great service” gift is always gratefully received, but it’s neither mandatory or expected. Common sense would dictate that this would have a knock-on effect on service, right? Wrong. What it means is that the people taking hospitality jobs are in it because they want to be, they are friendly because they are just that type of person, not because they’re angling for cash.
Receptacles don’t matter. Whilst frowned upon in the UK, Australian pubs and bars don’t bother a jot about “slinging a Tinnie over the bar”; that’s selling beer in cans to you and I. Beer, Cider, pre-mixed drinks, most were available (especially in traditional community pubs) in cans, no glass provided unless asked for. No “Perfect Serve” emphasis here!
Betting and alcohol DO mix! Quite a few pubs outside of the main cities double up as a bookies…what could possibly go wrong?! (See picture of Middle Pub in Mulumbimby!)
The on and the off trade can be mutually supportive. Many pubs and bars are attached to a Bottle-O, or "off-licence" to us Brits. I interviewed a store manager (who was also a barman next door) in one and asked whether this posed a threat to the actual bar. He said that no, it didn’t, and that in fact they help each other. The bar is only licensed until 10pm, so then the take home trade helps to bolster takings. Equally, customers often pop in, try a wine or beer in the outlet before they buy a full bottle or 6 pack to take home.
They take public holidays VERY seriously. Not only are most outlets on reduced hours, but they put a 10-15% surcharge on all bills, most of which is given back to staff as increased wages for working a bank holiday
They do free wine. Several of the hotels that I stayed in offered a “Wine Down” hour or two- free wine, a cheese board, snacks etc for an hour or two late afternoon, making a stop off at the bar on your way back from a day out practically mandatory.
And the main lesson I learnt when I returned from my trip? That I need to go on a diet, and pronto.
Katy Moses is Director of exciting boutique research consultancy KAM. Specialising in licensed retail, both on and off trade, they create bespoke research programmes for pubs, bars and restaurants, grocery retail stores and their suppliers.