Back of House podcast: Shane Beyer

A Bangkok-based executive who operates airport restaurants internationally explains what it’s like when your clientele vanishes overnight

In 2020, it’s hard to think of a more fraught business to be in than hospitality – except perhaps travel. “We do both,” says Shane Beyer, Managing Director, South East Asia, of travel retail business SSP. “Believe me, the irony is not lost on me.”

Shane Beyer oversees 160 restaurants in airports in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. When he spoke to Back of House podcast hosts Mike Rodrigues and Luke Butler in mid-June, just three of those restaurants were currently operational. “I’ve dropped 99 percent of my business,” he says. 

Beyer worked his way up from a job at a suburban Melbourne McDonald’s to manage organisations throughout Australia, Asia and the Middle East. In a fascinating episode, he describes how SSP has dealt with the Covid-19 crisis and what the future looks like for airport retail, one of the most pandemic-vulnerable businesses it is possible to imagine. 

Shane discusses:

  • How his company strategy will have to pivot 
  • When he anticipates Australian domestic and international travel will recommence at scale
  • Some of the ways in which air travel is likely to permanently change in the wake of the crisis
  • The impact of virtual meetings on business travel numbers
  • Why airport restaurants have to charge high prices  

He also reveals his love of travel and what it’s like to spend two weeks in a hotel room in Sydney in isolation. The episode is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in how the travel and hospitality sectors can hope to rebound in 2020 and beyond. 

Back of House is a business podcast that focuses on people and issues in the hospitality industry in Australia. It is hosted by Luke Butler, Managing Director of Hastings Recruitment, and Mike Rodrigues, Managing Director of Time Out Australia and Chair of the Night Time Industries Association, Sydney. 

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