Fighting for Docklands with Dollars!

Fighting for Docklands with Dollars!

By Sean Car

A new “Docklands Dollars” initiative, aimed exclusively at helping bring visitors and foot traffic back to Docklands, will be launched by the Docklands Chamber of Commerce (DCC) on March 29.

With the support of the City of Melbourne and Development Victoria, the scheme will model similar economic injection programs seen around the world during COVID-19 by encouraging people to stay and spend in Docklands through a range of incentives.

But unlike the state government’s regional travel vouchers which allow participants months to use, the DCC has set a 30-day period for Docklands Dollars to be activated from the time of registering to help support struggling businesses faster.

By registering through a dedicated website – docklandsdollars.com.au – participants will be required to book a minimum two-night stay at a Docklands accommodation provider and spend at local restaurants, bars and attractions to claim a rebate from the DCC.

While only businesses which are members of the DCC will be eligible to participate in the program, customers will be able to claim $50 off their accommodation, as well as 25 per cent off the total spend of their meal or purchase.

With the entire program to be delivered by DCC and its members, local creative agency MoWorks (pictured) has been charged with creating the Docklands Dollars website, while other members will be given various marketing and promotional responsibilities.

In light of a recent economic report by the City of Melbourne revealing a near 50 per cent occupancy of street-facing businesses in Docklands (read full story on page 5), DCC president Johanna Maxwell said the scheme would help businesses recover slowly.

“If you do the quick sums of workers, Marvel Stadium, Central Pier, etc. it works out to around 40 million visitors that aren’t coming to Docklands this year,” she said. “Even if you put the most minimal spend on that at $20 to $25 you’re talking about a billion dollars that’s not coming into Docklands over the course of a year.”

“We have developed, at the suggestion of one of our members, a plan to recover Docklands in a slow burn process. That is, to get a voucher system up and running where people have to come and stay in Docklands for a minimum of two days and once they’ve made their booking there’s the opportunity to recoup money.”

“This would then generate people coming to stay in Docklands as our accommodation providers have really been hurt hard during this time. When people are here they will go locally so they can pick any of our member businesses to participate and our member businesses will be part of the Docklands Dollars.”

“They can go kayaking, they can go on the Melbourne Star, Artvo, the Icehouse, Cargo or Renzos for lunch, they can shop in any of the shops at The District and get rebates for it. But it only becomes active when they’ve actually booked and paid for their accommodation then activated their profile on the Docklands Dollars website.”

Mrs Maxwell said participants would be required to collect receipts and lodge them with the DCC, which would directly issue rebates within 24 to 36 hours sparing local businesses the administrative and financial burden.

In addition to the state government’s $200 voucher scheme for the CBD expected to rollout by the end of March, she said the support of Docklands Dollars would help contribute to regular cash flowing through local businesses while workers gradually return to the precinct.

“We need the continuity, we don’t need a sugar fix. We need people on a regular basis coming through,” Mrs Maxwell said.

“We’re not asking our member businesses to provide discounts or anything like that. The members don’t have the margins in their figures to offer freebies so they need the cashflow.”

“We’re trying to generate a very quick turnaround on this spend and the entire project could have a lifespan of 18 months and we’re wanting money to be spent pretty quickly.”

Pending the continued easing of COVID restrictions, Mrs Maxwell said the DCC was also working with City of Melbourne and Development Victoria on a number of pop-up events as part of the Docklands Activation Strategy to complement Docklands Dollars.

For more information: docklandscc.com.au

ANZAC Day in Docklands

The DCC will expand on its ANZAC Day Dawn Service program from 2020 with eight buglers to be spread around Docklands for this year’s service.

Partnering with Skunkwork Productions’ “The Last Post Project” in support of Womens’ Veterans Network Australasia, the initiative is aimed at encouraging young musicians around the country to earn sponsorship by learning The Last Post and playing it on ANZAC Day.

Mrs Maxwell said Docklands would act as the showcase for the program on April 25, with two buglers to play from Yarra’s Edge and six surrounding Victoria Harbour.

“We want Docklands residents to come out and support, whether it’s on your balcony with candles or actually at each of the individual sites,” she said.

“We would like to actually have people participate and donate if they’re able to. All funds raised will go towards veteran support for suicide prevention.”

Further updates on ANZAC Day services will be provided in the April edition of Docklands News •

For more information: skunkworksproductions.com.au/the-last-post-project

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