09/01/2018 - 15:43

Increasing appetite for loyalty

09/01/2018 - 15:43

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Fraser’s Kings Park is among the early takers for a new program aiming to bring loyalty back to Perth’s food scene.

Joel Hubble says the program aims to build regular customers for Perth restaurants, cafes and related businesses. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Fraser’s Kings Park is among the early takers for a new program aiming to bring loyalty back to Perth’s food scene.

Perth-based food news and reviews platform Ozeating has created a resource it hopes will boost business for local restaurants and food stores.

Members of the WAfoodies loyalty program will receive 10-20 per cent off a bill each time they visit a participating venue, and accumulate points that can go towards free food and drinks.

The program is due to launch publicly at the end of February following the completion of system trials and tests, with 1,000 members signed up already.

Ozeating founder Joel Hubble said the membership card was limited to about 250 invited restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as an additional 250 butchers, fishmongers, bakeries and kitchenware stores.

“This is a guide for places people either want to go to or have been before, so they become repeat customers,” Mr Hubble told Business News.

“We’re not targeting people trying to get discounts, where they go for a one-off discount and never come back; this is about profitable repeat business.

“We’re also trying to steer people away from Coles and Woolworths and back into local places.

“And it’s there to help restaurants get busier on their quieter nights, as they lose patrons through delivery services (UberEats, Menulog, Deliveroo).”

Mr Hubble said participants ranged from restaurants such as Fraser’s Kings Park, to Perth-based franchise Jus Burgers and neighbourhood pubs including Mount Lawley’s The Flying Scotsman.

The WAfoodies card is part of Ozeating’s recent relaunch, which involved a two-year website redesign and a partnership with Community Newspaper Group, with plans to rollout the site nationally later this year.

Mr Hubble said OzEating also offered an all-in-one booking, event ticket sales and quoting system, available to the thousands of businesses listed on its website.

He said the Ozeating system charged businesses a monthly fee of $40 compared with the industry standard of $3 per person for each booking.

“The biggest challenge for the sector is probably the lack of foresight of the mining boom,” Mr Hubble said.

“We’ve got no long-term plan to actually increase the spend here; people have left (the state) and we aren’t getting as many international visitors.”

The challenges facing the sector are reflected in several recent business closures across the city.

Last year, the company behind The Trustee Bar and Bistro on St Georges Terrace and the Beaufort Local, formerly known as the Beaufort St Merchant, was placed into voluntary administration, reportedly due to a significant drop in revenue.

This followed the closure of fine dining local venues Nedlands-based Fuyu and East Perth’s Restaurant Amuse in early 2017.

Fraser’s Restaurant Group marketing manager Karlee Ruskenas believes the group’s adoption of WAfoodies will support its ongoing strategy of looking after regular customers.

Ms Ruskenas said WAfoodies was a customer retention opportunity and a chance to reward loyalty in a more high-end way.

“Perth goes into hibernation for the winter so we want to try and change this mind set of consumers and entice them to dine out in our venues more during those quieter months,” she said.

“WAfoodies helps us do that.

 “We were part of Ozeating when the WAfoodies program was born, so we jumped on board. It is a great platform to access and reach our target market of consumers who regularly dine out and it also encourages customer retention,” she said.

“The flexibility of the WAfoodie program works extremely well for us as we can tailor it to suit our needs, especially since we have multiple venues that are all very different, some quite seasonal.

“Industry member programs and apps are becoming more and more popular with consumers so we need to be keeping up with this trend and making sure we are always front of mind.”

Fraser’s managing director and executive chef Chris Taylor said while the sector was feeling the pinch, and food and beverage operators were often the first to suffer the effects of a sluggish economy, he saw plenty of upside for the sector. 

This confidence is evidenced by new venues such as the CBD’s Market Grounds, Henry Summer, and Heno & Rey, among others, which offer more casual dining experiences.

“It’s just a soft market and now is the time to knuckle down,” Mr Taylor told Business News.

“We have peaks and troughs in WA; we’re in a trough but don’t forget we had 10 good years.

“In this market to be multifaceted is really important, we have other strings to our bow.

“I think the secret to our success is also being ever-changing; we change the Fraser’s menu all the time.”

Mr Taylor has been at the helm of Fraser’s Kings Park restaurant since it opened in 1993, with the group also operating partner venues BWG Steakhouse, The Old Brewery and Indiana at Cottesloe Beach.

“There’s competition, but that’s just the nature of the beast,” he said.

“The changes to casual employment – the limitation on how many hours the casuals can work before they get double time – is a big challenge for us. Our industry has a lot of casual employment and it shows me a lack of understanding of governments.”

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