Updated: May 5, 2021
We all have that friend who, no matter what life throws at her, however tough things get, puts on her lippy, squares her shoulders and just gets on with it.
The hospitality industry is that friend. Despite the odds - the paltry 4% profit margins, (in good times) the constant 'finding-training-losing' staff cycle, the rocketing rents and the utter wrecking ball that that has been Covid, our restaurants are miraculously still here, their owners putting on their show faces day-after-day, to perform, with unfailing grace, a service that greatly enriches our lives.
Yet, if social media and online 'critiques' are anything to go by, diners want their meals served with a side of hospitality workers' bleeding hearts - an extra pound of flesh for their fifty bucks.
"So often, when those of us in the industry get together, the first twenty minutes is spent de-briefing, trying to heal each other's wounds and put each other back together again," says Naomi 'Nims' Zavackas, chef and former owner of the highly regarded Jam Pantry in Greenslopes, Brisbane.
Concerned this unrelenting onslaught of negativity has reached tipping point and worried for an industry that’s already on its knees, Nims is making it her business to educate the posters of negative reviews with her "Say don't Slay" campaign.
Running throughout May it’s designed to open a dialogue between diners and hospitality workers, to give diners an understanding of the deep and long-lasting impact a negative social media post can have not just on hospitality workers’ livelihoods but their mental health.
"Every time a restaurateur gets a media notification, they panic about what's coming in, what kind of abuse is coming their way and how they might be about to be ripped to shreds online," Zavackas says.
And the nail in the coffin is that there is very little they can do – the process of taking down malicious posts or reviews is lengthy, with the onus of proof resting on the venue.
"Say don't Slay" is taking on the type of negative feedback that when delivered online after the fact, negates the opportunity for any customer issues to be rectified in-house," Zavackas says.
Rather, the campaign encourages diners to address any issues they have face to face when at the venue.
“If diners don’t feel they can do that, then a respectful email later, telling them what happened. Nine out of ten times they’ll get a positive response from the owner and offer to fix it.”
To date over 100 venues have signed up with more coming onboard.
On May 15, participating venues will participate in 'No Comment Day' appealing to diners via social to speak to the staff face to face if they are in the venue or by phone or email rather if they have an than reviewing or commenting online.
And next time you're in your favourite venue, why not tell them what a great job they're doing, then go to their Facebook page and leave a positive review - even the toughest of the tough need a five star hug sometimes.