Brisbane City Child Care cut fees by $50 a day in an effort to entice parents back to the service after attendance rates and enrollments dropped significantly during the pandemic.
Co-directors Chris Buck and Rebecca Stacey spoke to Australian Financial Review (AFR) telling the newspaper that the service, which has 12 rooms, has more than half of its rooms closed due to a major holiday.
Of the 147 licensed spaces, only 70 are taken, leaving the licensed provider scrambling for ideas on how to turn things around. The discounts were inspired by commercial airlines offering cheaper seats to encourage people to fly back as border restrictions eased.
“It’s exactly the same as planes,” Mr Buck told the newspaper, “we’re flying half-full planes. We want to get people back into the CBD.
While the return-to-work trend in city premises was on the rise at the start of the year, flooding in late February and early March reversed the trend, with public transport schedules disrupted and a sharp increase gasoline prices further discouraging commuters.
Parents, Mr Buck said, found that coming to the CBD for work cost them an average of $5,000 a year in extra expenses for lunches, coffees and transport, and that Brisbane City Child Care aimed to make the discount more than the price of returning to work in the CBD to compensate.
“We have the capacity to offer this discount for a few months, and we are happy to do so,” he added. He’s operated the service for 18 years and has described the move to a work-from-home model as the most dramatic change he’s seen in CBD.
The challenges of operating CBD centers in the current climate also drew comments from G8 Education CEO Gary Carroll, who said the provider, which currently operates more than 470 services across Australia, does not does not plan to acquire or create any CBD-based services.
“I think the reality of people not working five days a week in an office environment is going to stay,” he said. “We haven’t opened a CBD center in a while, and we don’t have one on our radar.”
To read the original cover of this story please see here. Image from Style magazine