The Night Owls after Covid 19: The Philippine Nightlife Industry in Post Pandemic Times
By: Wilbert Valentino, Vice-President for Operations for The Palace Manila
The Philippine Nightlife Industry was one of the most prolific industry in Asia before the 2020 Pandemic hit. In Metro Manila, there were several locations that were thriving and witnessing exponential growth due to the developing markets around the metro. One is Quezon City in the Tomas Morato area that has always been nightlife constant. Another is Makati City which is also a stalwart ever since the 1990’s for establishments that cater to “night owls”. And the emerging center for the industry that is Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Then the pandemic hit.
In the thick of the outbreak the government was forced to impose drastic measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus that resulted to the temporary closure of bars, clubs, and other nightlife and hospitality establishments. The result was devastating to the industry. Several establishments had to close down its doors permanently due to the financial strain brought by the closures and the uncertainty of what will happen.
Fast forward to 2022 in the advent of the vaccines and the eventual immunization of a big percentageof the populationled to the opening of the economy and easing of Covid – 19 restrictions by the central and local governments. The impact of the softening of regulations was very positive as more people are allowed to go out and establishments were allowed to operate at higher capacities. There are more opportunities for the nightlife industry to generate revenue and for people to enjoy entertainment and socializing. This also led to the increase in tourism and local travel that also helped in boosting the industry further.
The industry is currently experiencing resurgence due to the fact that people had “lockdown fatigue” and the yearning to go out with friends, dinning out, and go clubbing.
The industry is currently experiencing resurgence due to the fact that people had “lockdown fatigue” and the yearning to go out with friends, dinning out, and go clubbing. Hence, the word “revenge partying” was coined. People came out in droves and spent more than what they used to during pre-pandemic days. The establishments adapted with the pandemic as they adjusted to the softer government policies towards Covid – 19. Most of the venues adapted the “strictly for reservations only” mode of dining and entertaining to keep guest capacity down that worked well for the establishments because it kept the overhead down while earning at pre-pandemic levels. Thus, keeping the labor cost at a minimum and lessen utility costs for the companies. Big events such as massive gatherings, music festivals, and sporting events also made a big come back in 2022 that also fueled the confidence of people totry to live with the virus and not be afraid of it.
"The future is looking good for the restaurant and nightlife industry barring any more outbreaks or a spike of cases of Covid – 19."
Another noteworthy factor in the successful recovery of the nightlife industry were the thousands of teenagers that were robbed of their youth by the two-year pandemic. That period of time should have been the peak of trying new things and exploring for the first time going out with friends. Instead they got cooped up during the lock down and coping with nophysical contact with their classmates and friends weighed heavily on their mental and emotional development. These thousands of teenagers that recently turned 18 years old (that is the legal age to drink in the Philippines) contributed to the revival of the nightlife industry because of the urge to party with their peers and finally celebrate the waning of the pandemic.
Year 2023 seems like the nightlife industry, along with other businesses, is returning to its normal state as the pandemic winds down. More and more people are going out helping businesses recover and propping the economy of the country.
The future is looking good for the restaurant and nightlife industry barring any more outbreaks or a spike of cases of Covid – 19. There are several venues that re-opened and new ones being opened around the metro. It is a sign that there is resilience in the Philippine market and a clamor for these types of establishments that cater to the specific type of guests – The Night Owls.