Last week was a week full of different religion celebrations here in Indonesia. On Wednesday, July 15 Bali celebrated Galungan, a Balinese holiday celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma. It marks the time when the ancestral spirits visit Earth. On Friday, July 17 it was Eid al-Fitr and Muslims throughout the world have a joyous three-day celebration of the end of their month-long fasting season.
The hotel had planned a special buffet for the Friday and Saturday as we expected full occupancy during the period. The team was well prepared after having a big spill over crowd from the seafood cafe across the street coming in last year. I thought, how great, the team is well prepared this year because they planned ahead.
Late Tuesday, I was just at the Lobby area when Win was the bartender attending our lobby bar. I congratulated him for his newborn and our conversation went from A to Z from there. He informed me the seafood cafe across the street will all be closed tomorrow. All 10+ of them. A lightbulb went on in my head. This is our opportunity. This is a golden opportunity for us to take over their crowd even for one night. I quickly made a call to one of the owners of the seafood cafe across the street to confirm it, he said yes, the cafes will all be closed for Galungan. This is great!
I rushed down to the restaurant and met with Alan to inform him. He gathered the team together. Our Executive Chef, Sous Chef, F&B Leader, and Security. The famous seafood cafes that attract thousands of diners will be closed tomorrow, should we take on the opportunity to have a seafood buffet at our hotel instead? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Everybody agreed in a heartbeat. We didn’t know if it will be successful or not, but it seemed like a good idea. Alright, all team activate. F&B will take care of the manning schedule; chefs to make sure we have enough inventory; security to place their men at the right place tomorrow.
Wednesday afternoon came quickly. Alan called to ask if it was okay to move the event from the rooftop to the restaurant. It’s too windy up there. Sure, why not. When I checked the area at around 4, the banner was already up. The decorations were already out. We even got a BBQ set outside to grill some onions just to entice people with the smell. It’s five. I got anxious. The parking lot across the street was never that empty.
There I stood. For hours. I had flyers and menu in my hand and with my high heels I stood just outside of the hotel, waiting and waiting. I smiled at every car that turned into the parking lot, hoping they would stop and come in.
I was wrong.
I was rejected over and over again. None of the cars stopped. As soon as they saw the empty parking lot and the seafood cafes door closed, they turned around right away. I never been rejected that many times in my life. I was so embarrassed. Did I mislead my team? Did I let them down? No time to back down now, Stephanie. I straightened up my posture, put on a bigger smile, and kept my team positive. Inside, I was praying over and over again that we would at least get 10 people to cover the cost.
The evening turned to night. More cars turning around. But patience is a virtue. We got two people to come in and sit down. And then two more. And then four more. And then some more.
When I looked at my watch next, it was already 7:30pm and I realize I have been standing there for 3.5 hours. I went to check on the restaurant and sat down with my mom. I told her it was a great learning experience. The idea was created in a spur of the moment. I did not even think who the real target audience was. We hold these seafood buffet every weekend and it’s always foreigners that come. Yet there I was, standing for hours trying to get the local guests that normally come to the seafood cafe for the sunset on the beach and for the seafood. Yes we had both but the cost was not what they usually pay and we do not have direct access to the beach.
Thankfully we closed the night with 24 people enjoying the seafood buffet. More than our typical weekends. More than I expected. Most of them were our stay-in guests just like any other weekends. They are indeed our target market. We should have promoted inside the hotel. The occupancy was high that day, we could have got more people to stay and dine. Lessons learned.
Looking back now, I am glad I took on the opportunity to do it. Of course I am grateful it’s successful but we would never know if we did not try right?