Cupitt's Estate & Covid 19

Our Customer Experiences Manager, Libby Cupitt spoke with Sydney Morning Herald last week on the effect of the spread of Omicron, and how Cupitt's Estate and other businesses in the Shoalhaven region have navigated through a difficult period, which should be one of our busiest. Here's what Libby had to say;

How do bookings at Cupitt's compare to last summer and pre-Covid?

The summer school holidays are always the busiest time of year for our business. The bookings every year are strong, particularly the first two weeks after Christmas. Forward bookings last summer and this summer have been greater than pre-pandemic. I think people have learnt the importance to plan your holiday in advance to secure your bookings since the pandemic encouraged more domestic tourism.  

Has the rises in cases due to Omicron impacted numbers?

Absolutely. The combination of the rise in cases and the removal of the mask mandate and check-in brought a lot of uncertainty to our customers who were accustomed to these practices. Consumer confidence dropped for a little while pre-Christmas as everyone attempted to stay as safe as possible to not ruin Christmas plans. Post-Christmas we saw bookings drop due to customers contracting covid or being a 'close contact'. We experienced many 'no-shows' with customers forgetting to cancel reservations. 

How has Omicron impacted you? Have you had staff shortages or last-minute cancellations? Have you been forced to close or reduce hours? Have you had any difficulties getting supplies? Issues with testing?

It certainly has not been the summer we planned. There is a significant amount of preparation and organisation to ensure we can give our customers the best experience possible. Like most businesses we dealt with staff shortages, last-minute cancellations and were forced to reduce service times. We have been luckier than most businesses as we have a significant sized team at Cupitt's over 100 staff. We have managed to have our staff work across different departments to ensure we stay open. 

We also have a lower risk than many venues with large outdoor dining areas. The majority of customers opt to dine outdoors; which is great as long as the rain stays away.  

How has Omicron impacted other tourism providers, accommodation and hospitality, supermarkets in the area?

Sadly most hospitality operators have had to close at some point during the holidays due to staff shortages. Nothing breaks your heart more than cancelling a customers reservation. Most people are understanding but potentially you will never get a chance to see that customer again. We are not only missing the opportunity to make money this summer but it impacts on the people's experience with the region and maybe they won't come back again. All the operators here pride themselves on giving experiences that make people want to return. We are always recommending one another to help visitors have the best experience. It is hard with so many businesses closed or unable to accept more bookings. 

We are also accommodation providers, we opened the luxury pods this summer and have had to manage last-minute cancellations, deep cleaning, and staff shortages in housekeeping. I think most operators a giving themselves a buffer for a 'just in case' situation to not add pressure on staff which again impacts the bottom line. 

Has it been a successful summer so far?

It has been successful to a degree, we have managed to keep our restaurant and cellar door open pretty much the whole summer. We have launched our accommodation, occupancy is good and feedback is excellent. Our team have been incredible in dealing with the current situation but it is having a big impact on stress levels. 

We recruited many new people into the industry this year and we hope that we can retain them. It is a big concern how many people are leaving the hospitality and tourism sector due to the uncertainty. The south coast has so much to offer and it is important for all the operators to get through this difficult time so we can keep performing well as a tourism destination. 

To read the full Sydney Morning Herald articleclick here