Constant change is a normal part of hotel life in the present environment, says the new leaseholder of the Provincial Hotel Simon Coghlan.
The well-known hotelier and hospitality consultant says the hospitality industry is more fluid than it’s ever been, with businesses rising and falling in short periods. The days of hotels remaining the same watering hole for decades is disappearing.
“It’s incredibly tough now,” he says.
“People’s attention spans are shorter, and the need to see something new, something different puts huge pressure on our industry, especially in terms of costs.”
Mr Coghlan and his partners have purchased the leasehold of the historic venue opposite the railway station, and says the proposed redevelopment in the precinct offers a great opportunity – although he wouldn’t be drawn on what he has planned for the pub in detail just yet.
“Look, we took it over at the start of July and we have some exciting plans afoot,” he says.
“It’s very much a work in progress, and we’ll have more to say later, but we’re really excited about what can be done there.”
Mr Coghlan, who has a degree in hotel management, says the fitting out of hotel or venue these days is an expensive venture.
“It’s a significant investment. A refurbishment a decade or 15 years ago might last you 10 years. Now it’s closer to four.”
He cites Damien Jones’s Catfish restaurant as a business that recognised the need for reinvention.
“Looking at the broader picture, there’s a constant need to be addressing changes in society’s views and expectations around liquor laws, combined with the ever-changing views of the public.
“Change, I think, is accelerating at the moment, and we need to be able to respond quickly to that. In the age of social media, it’s about the ability to connect with the customer and provide new experiences, because that’s what they want.”
Mr Coghlan also paid tribute to the influence of the late Ian Larkin on the hotel industry in Ballarat. Mr Larkin died last week after a long illness.
“They’re aren't too many people as highly revered in hospitality circles as Ian was. He was a true publican to the end and his involvement at a local and state level with the hospitality industry really leaves behind a great legacy. He was so good at providing a liaison between government and industry.”
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