Serving it up: Meet the businesses acing the Australian Open
Thursday, January 17, 2019/
The Australian Open is in full swing this week, with fans from every continent braving Melbourne’s heatwave to watch the best players in the world battle it out on the hard court.
But amid all the excitement there are also plenty of businesses getting involved with the annual sporting event, whether it be partnering with the Australian Open itself or servicing revellers in the area surrounding Margaret Court Arena.
There are plenty of opportunities to be had, as hundreds of thousands of fans get involved. In fact, a 2016 report by Tennis Australia found $278.1 million was injected into the Victorian economy from the event.
Local brands are also increasingly getting involved with the event, with fast-growing restaurants such as Huxtaburger catering for hungry fans.
“It’s an amazing brand to align yourself with, the best thing is the amount of exposure we get,” Huxtaburger chief executive Matt Fickling tells SmartCompany.
“The amount of traffic that comes through to the pop-up is quite insane.”
Fickling says Huxtaburger trained staff specifically for the event and hopes to expose itself to new customers.
“It aligns with our brand strategy … we see ourselves moving into the lifestyle space and not just talking about food.
“This is what our customers are doing. They’re going to the tennis and we want to be in that space as well … The Australian Open isn’t just about the tennis anymore.”
For Adam Wilkinson, chief executive of Australian bag brand Crumpler, getting involved was a no brainer.
“We’ve always thought it has been a fantastically run event — they’re getting record attendance again this year,” he tells SmartCompany.
“It’s evolved from a tennis tournament into a full entertainment experience.”
Crumpler has opened a pop-up shop right outside Margaret Court arena, under show court three, and is also selling co-branched merchandise through official Australian Open outlets.
Wilkinson says the store itself is going gangbusters, but points out getting involved was about more than just getting some good trading in.
“As we grow our brand globally, the fact that the Australian Open is such an international event gives us a great chance to showcase our new brand and designs,” he says.
“We are, as a business, aiming to push into the North American market this calendar year and our participation has been recognised by some of our potential new retail partners.”
For those outside of the area, business is also booming.
Michael Chen, owner of George Street Cafe, which is located nearby Melbourne’s sporting hub, says the Australian Open is always a highlight for his business, with tennis revellers keeping him and his staff busy.
He tells SmartCompany he’s expecting things to continue to pick-up over the next week as the event progresses, with new and familiar customers dropping in.
“ESPN had a crew of 20 people or so living down on George Street over the last five years, they would come here every morning,” he says.
“Sometimes the whole production crew comes down, I know them now and they let me know when they’re coming.
“Sadly the house rented to them isn’t available now, but three of them still came the other day, I was blown away.”
Chen has also had a brush or two with fame over the years.
“Three years ago we had a tennis player from America with special dietary requirements, she just needed egg-white omelettes, so her partner would come in and order them especially for her.”
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