Why I chose to boycott Guyana Restaurant Week 2017

The Guyana Restaurant Week (#GRW), ‘Spring Edition’ of which it was originally introduced, recently concluded and from the looks of things once again did pretty well. I strongly believe that #GRW is perhaps one of Guyana’s most brilliant marketing and tourism campaigns yet.

It brings a fresh twist to social media marketing; it offers friendly competitions and additional exposure to local restaurants thereby giving them a chance to get creative, strengthen their brand and marketing whilst bettering their menus and customer service.

As for us customers, it is an exciting few days to try new places, explore new menus and relish the feeling of being a tourist in your own country. It really brings out the best in dining, service, competition and marketing.

But here are a few reason why I chose to boycott #OfficialGRW this edition.

  • Spring Edition

This is perhaps the silliest, pettiest but most annoying reason why I did not bite into GRW. In February this year they began marketing an upcoming ‘GRW Spring Edition’ and my eyes took a 180-degree flip. After gazing at the back of my skull for about 5 mins my eyes then turned around to my phone to comment on the ridiculousness of branding an event in Guyana, land of eternal summer, “Spring”.

This had me questioning, was the November 2016 GRW the ‘Autumn into Winter Edition’?

I get that the intention might be to attract the foreign market but really and truly they’re not coming here just for GRW. The local market is your audience, visitors just happen to be here at the right time to eat into this event.

The ‘Spring’ brand really did not appeal to me.

I am happy to say that after some persons commented pointing out this ridiculousness, #OfficialGRW did away with the ‘Spring 2017 Edition’ branding.

  • It’s just too soon… Yawn.

It just got tiring for me. We just participated in GRW last November and here we are in May with yet another one. The familiar faces I competed and dined with last year are noticeably fewer and even the #OfficialGRW media team isn’t feeling it this season (after reviewing their Instagram page).

The Instagram account still has in its description “…will be running from November 18 to 27, 2016” and the account has not been updated since the beginning of May.

Come on guys, you have perhaps the best event marketing social media team of videographers, graphic designers, and presenters but clearly, you’re killing it.

Don’t kill it. GRW is too remarkable an event to die from being overworked.

I suppose this season would attract a new audience, but as for me… I’m bored. Even with a new beautiful co-host, it didn’t seem as exciting as before. I love the charismas and personalities of Anita Ramprasad and Surida Nagreadi but one cannot help to wonder where is the gender and ethnic diversity in hosting, presenting features and being the faces of GRW?

  • Restaurants just weren’t ready

Despite some of the customary restaurants being on the GRW list. I saw reviews where persons upon arriving at specific restaurants were told that some menu items had finished. Waiters would explain that because of the demand the kitchen either ran out of ingredients to prepare the meals or have to make substitutions. Sometimes diners were also forced to wait long periods while they rectified the blunder.

Food shortages and substitutions are unacceptable – this happened to me way too many times last year and based on the reviews and reports from this season it was worse. It’s really wretched to have your mind set on something only to arrive and learn that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. GRW menus were being circulated throughout the event, so some persons knew well in advance what they were doing to order.

Last GRW, one restaurant served tin sausages on a toothpick as an appetizer (Ghastly!); it might be wise to have more options if you know you’re going to run out of items on the menu YOU created. People want the dining experience, not just food and if one has to wait for the kitchen to re-stock, substitute a meal or that eat off the regular menu (which may or may not cost more than GRW rates) then your restaurant might not be ready to be a part of this exclusive dining club.

Be prepared. Again, widen the range of your menu options if you know after six customers you’re going to run out of ingredients, customers will also appreciate the range of options instead of three picks.

Finally!

  • Poor transparency in awards

Now I enjoyed the GRW Instagram challenge very much last season and though in no way was I close to winning, I played as a true competitor would. Trying to find all the items whilst visiting as many restaurants as I could… it was fun!

Then GRW ended on November 27 and by counting the scores of those who participated and tagged #OfficialGRW, I had a fair idea of who won. But then GRW took almost 2 weeks to say it’s a tie (on December 7) and then two months (on February 7, 2017) to declare the three winners.

REALLY?! Two months! To count. And to top it all off the winners weren’t even selected by counts, they were chosen from a draw by a “non GRW official” … due to “the high volume of participants and the enthusiastic support for the challenge.”

I trust GPL more than I trust the GRW tally/counting system but in the same post explaining this they said, “It took forever, we know, but GRW wanted to do right by our fans. The next GRW we’ll take steps to prepare for this.”

There was no real cut off time either. Last season I saw some people still posting up to 2 days after GRW ended, even though they might have taken the pictures during the dining week but that still leaves an unanswered question, do their posts still count? Bottom-line, GRW needs a proper system for the competition and adjudging winners.

I love GRW and support it fully and this is in no way meant to encourage others to boycott. I just wasn’t feeling it this time around for the aforementioned reasons but will definitely participate in the next edition. However, I do hope that improvements are made on the collective services offered by the #OfficialGRW team, restaurants and all involved in making this, as I said… one of Guyana’s most brilliant marketing and tourism campaigns.

Note: This article was posted after GRW so as not to dissuade anyone from participating.

By | Jairo Rodrigues

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