INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT with Damian Steele POP-UP EVENTS AND VENUES GIVEN AN EASY RIDE THERE IS A GROWING CONCERN REGARDING THE SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF LICENSED MUSIC FESTIVALS AND EVENTS, INCLUDING POP-UP STYLE FOOD AND BEVERAGE OFFERINGS. QHA REVIEW | 36 There are over 100 various festivals approved throughout Queensland annually as well as an explosion in the number of pop-up style markets, food trucks and similar events. There are a range of issues which have been identified by Queensland hoteliers, including but not limited to: • The relative differing degree of compliance and accountability for these types of events compared to trading activity on licensed premises and the seeming lack of regulation enforcement and accountability. • The financial impacts on trade - not merely the direct spend loss of business competition, but the inequities of competing against festivals that are operating in an environment free from annual liquor licensing fees and free from any potential compliance history licence fee penalty burdens, free from ongoing compliance costs as well as administrative responsibilities, and with no ongoing requirements for maintaining appropriately licensed staff. • The negative perceptions of the community and media towards alcohol and thereby by default to the hotel sector, generated by anti-social or illegal behaviour at these festivals and into their surrounding areas. • Issues derived from problem patrons “inherited” after these events around licensed premises, and any subsequent incidents then being attributed back to the local hotel. Further, expenses such as rent and long term employee costs are often non-existent. It’s understandably frustrating for an established hotel business to sustain itself and employees through the lean times – only to find a pop-up competitor appear during a peak period which should be their time to capitalise on trade. In short, the beneficiaries of these one-off hit and run events and pop-up businesses scoop the cream off the top without the need to invest in the protection of a venue’s reputation and the protection of its liquor licence and all the compliance that entails. There is a definite perception that these festival events and similar pop-up food and beverage operations enjoy a more relaxed degree of regulatory scrutiny and accountability compared to established hotel businesses’ onpremise activity. For example, there have been numerous arrests in all states for anti-social and drug related offences at music festivals, yet it’s difficult to rationalise the limited degree of accountability for the organisers and operators compared to the numerous and ongoing liquor licence conditions and compliance requirements attached to a commercial hotel. A hotel’s liquor licence is one of its most valuable assets. It underpins any gaming approvals and the core business offerings of food, beverage and entertainment -and it provides the greatest incentive for conducting responsible and compliant business. The hoteliers of Queensland are committed to the long term, not simply to a pop-up for a big day out. IT’S UNDERSTANDABLY FRUSTRATING FOR AN ESTABLISHED HOTEL BUSINESS TO SUSTAIN ITSELF AND EMPLOYEES THROUGH THE LEAN TIMES – ONLY TO FIND A POP-UP COMPETITOR APPEAR DURING A PEAK PERIOD WHICH SHOULD BE THEIR TIME TO CAPITALISE ON TRADE.
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