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Virtual places to learn and connect

We’re now almost a month into the on-premise shut down caused by COVID-19. 

No matter what area of the industry you call home, odds are that if you’re still working, it’s not as much as you were before bars had to shut their doors. 

Not only are we economically impacted by this loss, we’re also affected by the lost social interactions and missed growth opportunities. Without the physical ability to be in a bar as we’re used to, feeling connected to a career in the bar industry is difficult. 

If this is something you’re struggling with, you’re not alone. And, thankfully, there are some things that can help. 

Across social media there are virtual places you can connect with your industry. You can upskill, discuss products and techniques, share isolation tips, or even just hang out and socialise. The hospitality community is a great thing, and so we’ve collated some ways to get involved with it virtually below. 

Social Exchange’ from Coca-Cola Amatil

The Exchange is an initiative by Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), aimed at helping bars and their staff achieve success. Their team of marketers, sales managers and brand ambassadors are experienced across the industry, and endeavor to celebrate, create, promote and support Australia’s drinks culture through the CCA alcohol portfolio. 

And now, with social distancing and isolation being the new norm, it’s relying on the virtual world with the Social Exchange – a live steamed social media series that’s providing a virtual venue for people to share knowledge and training and connect with conversations and a drink from afar. 

The series is now in its third week, having already explored the ideas behind some of the world’s most iconic products and cocktails, with sessions Tuesday to Saturday on Facebook. The Social Exchange welcomes everyone, from bartenders and hotel groups, to all spirit enthusiasts.

Cam Pirret, The Exchange NSW Brand Ambassador, said the Social Exchange grew from an educational series into one that supports and connects people in the industry. 

“It is a really tough time. People are having financial hardships, they are isolated, and they’re quite worried about their family and friends. Tough times don’t last but tough people do, and we think there’s nothing tougher than reaching out for help,” Pirret said.

“We are asking people to reach out – not only to your friends, but to the industry that is so supportive and has such an amazing community spirit.”

Erica Richards, The Exchange SA Brand Ambassador, added: “What’s really important at the moment is that we support each other, that we are kind to each other, but also that we can have a bit of a laugh…We can still have a drink, we can still talk to our friends and community via social media, and together with this awesome industry we will make it to the other side.”

Head to The Exchange’s Facebook or Instagram channels for the latest live session updates, competition news and to join the conversation.

Jameson Hosts’ from Jameson

Jameson have launched an online platform intended to support, inspired and engage the international bar community throughout the pandemic.

Through an Instagram page, Jameson is bringing the community together to connect and learn from each other, sharing ideas and collaborating through video content from across the world. Content is set to cover a range of topics, including cocktail masterclasses, wellbeing, career coaching and whiskey tutorials, as well as advice on adapting to challenges like the one COVID-19 has presented.

Brendan Buckley, International Marketing Director at Irish Distillers who produce Jameson, said: “The global bar community has dedicated its life and career to the service of others.  Now, more than ever, this community needs a new place to come together and share inspiring stories, real-world guidance and encouraging words to help each other overcome the challenges they face today and those that lie ahead.”

Find Jameson hosts here.

‘Daily Happy Hour’ from Applewood Distillery and Unico Zelo

From the Adelaide Hills recently came an announcement by Brendan Carter, Winemaker, Distiller and Co-founder of Applewood Distillery and Unico Zelo. Carter said that from March 20, they would live stream every day, where they would talk wine, spirits, cocktails, and just generally banter on camera.

Over a month later, the live streams keep coming, with thousands of views fostering a social media community that shares ideas and starts conversations across the brands pages.

The streams include isolation cocktail creation, tastings, and discussions. You can find them on Facebook at Unico Zelo or Applewood Distillery.

Other specific groups

These are just a few of the virtual locations that are popping up across the internet, and it’s likely that some of your favourite brands, big and small, have similar things happening on their social media pages too.

But if you’re looking for specific places to connect, try searching on Facebook for them – you would be surprised what would show up. For example, Worksmith runs a great Hospitality Industry COVID-19 support group, while your local city might have a bartender group, a business owners group, or a general hospitality workers group.

Branch out and see what you can find. We’re all in this together and you don’t have to go through this alone.

Header image: Erica Richards, The Exchange

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