Far from the post-apocalyptic, dystopian wasteland of our worst fears, the reality of the future post pandemic World, will, undoubtedly be introducing new ways to live, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
Without getting sucked into the endless warrens of the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, as to why we are in this situation, instead I am looking to the future of face of the drinking and dining experience and the importance of art in this brave new world we are all slowly but suely entering, if we like it or not.
I believe that the way to thrive after we survive will be again multi dimentional revenue streams relating to each other, with a focus on the guest experience becoming more important than ever before.
Firstly I’ll start with the plans for The Studio Saigon bar…The simple things we took for granted before the “last normal Christmas and New Year” in 2019 that the world experienced. The simplicity of walking around wihout the need for facemasks, temperature checks and health declarations, plus going to a bar, restaurant or nightclub packed full of people having a great time and feeling an “atmosphere filled to the brim with social buzz”, will all take time to establish in the new routien and normalize to become accepted, at least for now.
Essentially time is the key factor and the speed at which operations will adapt to this altered state will determin their attractiveness to the new mindset of the market. Where before a room full of strangers was part of the attraction of socializing in public, now those rooms are half full and social distancing measures will be in place for precaution into next year.
So whats the cause, effect and outcome ?
The big venues are dinosaurs of the past and the Covid-19 pandemic was the meteor that wiped them out in the short to medium term. With combined critical mass of high rents to pay, large staff costs social distancing required to open reducing the potential revenues, has meant break even points are not reached, costs out weigh net profits and melt downs were common. Other venues too small or not established enough with little or no contingency and relatively recently set up will need to go back to the P & L drawing board and write a new business plan if they want to open again and turn a profit. Medium sized, well established venues, with owners who have other businesses to compensate losses will fair better, but will need to look at what and how they offer Quality, value and attention to detail are the order of the new day. So what does this mean for the future of The Studio Saigon in this new hospitality landscape?
In the past the Studio has operated an appointment only concept with minimum spends and numbers of guests at anyone time. You could say the first capsual drinking experience, but we didn’t label it. This will continue, as the formula works well, especially suited to the new normal…small intimate space, attention to detail and a memorable experience with value for money.
This time will see the addition of a sundowners session from 4pm – 6pm Monday – Friday, with drinks from The Trolley in the Gallery at the front and in the Corridor, named the “5 o’clock trollies”. This is aimed at promoting the art with a regular open door to the Studio and re-marketing the space with who is left in the city as no tourists are expected on the horizon for at least another year.
The two elements of Art and cocktails complimented each other perfectly and will continue to do that. The future of the Studio Saigon will embrace the experiential aspect of the concept that was always one of Saigons best kept secrets. In the past the whole operation didn’t just rely on the bar revenue alone to pay the rent, the art was always there to top up the balance sheet if it fell short at anytime. In recent months its the art that has become the main protagonist by supporting everything.
Art will remain the driving force with new and exciting directions being explored to maximize this have been developed during the shroud of the lockdown period, I will mention these at the end of this piece.
For now everything is in place, the art, the cocktails, the bar, plus the drinks trolley is ready and set up for casual corridor cocktails at the front of the gallery around sun set…all we are waiting for is for the restrictions to be lifted and the free movement of the people once again. The pendulum will swing back and the balance will return with the hospitality aspect of the concept complimenting the art sles as it always did pre-pandemic.
The Gallery side was heading to a more casual open door approach before Covid-19 episode in anaycase, with myself working in the gallery area drawing, always keeping the front door open during the lunch time period to catch the casual walk-ins who wanted to check out the art. The Studio facebook page and booking number were recieving appointments every week to view art and check out the space for potential events.
This will continue and I belive as the new normal will dictate. The new hybrid / remote work force emerging in 2022 will mean people look to intimate, authentic expereiences where they feel at home away from home more than ever, with office dynamics adjusted, the chance to socialize will be more cherised than ever and become an event moment in itself. The establishment of favorite special places to meet on these occasions will be a perfect opportunity if venues that survive this lean period can adapt now to be ready. I believe the Studio Saigon is strongly positioned for such a shift in this consumer demand. People just need to know about the place. Hence, strategically I have fixed the ‘on-line’ roof while the sun is shining you could say, with this blog being one of the main voices.
It is very encouraging to see the website statistics coming up everyday. Since the website re-launch thanks to Dan Kings from DZK Creative, the online gallery is getting visits from over 100 people from around the world every day, with the Studio Saigon rising to the top of search engine results in that time, which is truly amazing.
Finally on the art side, I am exploring digital formats for my work as a new platform as this is the future frontier of art globally. My signature LED city scapes have evolved into iconic images that now use originals as the foundation, with the heavy weight paper adding a matte non-reflective texture that is very attractive. More books, panoramics and exciting exhibitions are all in the pipeline. In essence its business as usual at The Studio Saigon, where we are not realy doing anything new that we didn’t do before, excpet this time more people know about us, and as an artist…thats exactly what you need.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and when the storm blows over, we sincerly look forward to welcoming you to our humble, special space, and enjoy a gin and tonic or two from the drinks trolley.