Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bungalow 9, a lesson in hospitality. Not.

A few days ago the husband received an invitation from Bungalow 9, an upmarket restaurant in fashionable Bandra, to come and dine and then of course, write about them on his blog. A bemused hubby told me about it and we decided, what the hell, let's go.

Phone calls from their PR agency Percept followed and we confirmed that we would be there on Monday evening. Priyanka, their representative made all the requisite correct noises, assuring us that Monday would be good because the chef would be there (his day off is Tuesday, not Monday), inquiring whether we would like to sit inside the bungalow or outside where the ambience was quite lovely and the weather very pleasant too.

We set out as planned and got there on Monday evening, at 8.30pm as per our reservation. Both of us were a little unsure as this was a first and we were not sure of this scenario of being hosted by them so we could write about them. Anyway, we were there and so we went in.

The place is lovely, set in what used to be a quiet lane in Bandra. Now of course there are huge flashy cars and thin flashy people every where. There was a pretty young receptionist and as she looked at her bookings list, we were no where on it. The husband introduced himself, presented his visiting card and explained that we had been invited. Embarrassed and feeling very awkward, I stood by and waited. Another receptionist joined this young girl and he was as clueless as she was. We looked at the bookings for the evening and there was no sign of our name anywhere. We were not expected.

So we explained how their PR people had got in touch with us and set up this dinner invitation. Blank looks was all we got. We tried to access the email on our cell phones but there was no connectivity and we therefore couldn't show them the email invite. After about 10 minutes of this very awkward interaction we were finally offered a seat. Not at the dining tables but in the waiting area which is one tiny sofa tucked in a corner. I was slowly and surely losing my temper.

Another slightly senior person came out, asked us again who we were, etc. I had had enough and decided to leave. The husband was completely embarrassed, insulted and didn't know what to think. There had been no communication from the PR agency about us being invited but, he assured us that they were not fully booked and we were welcome to stay for dinner. Thanks, but no thanks.

We left of course.

The PR lady did call later in the evening to find out what happened and what I gathered from hubby's conversation with her is that there was a 'human error' somewhere. It definitely took a genius to figure that one out! She also said they would 'make it up to us'. How? At most they can offer us another 'free meal'. Do we want that after this experience?

There are somethings about hospitality that are absolute no-nos. You do not invite a guest and then forget to inform the relevant people. You do not leave an invited guest standing around trying to prove he was invited. You do not invite a guest and then let them leave feeling embarrassed and insulted.

I have no idea what the food at Bungalow 9 is like. Frankly my dears, I don't give a damn.


Asmita said...

Are you sure it was not a crank call?

I have known youngsters to be calling on behalf of an organization, promising some gift or goodie & enjoying making fool of that person. Of course they don't realize the harm they cause to the reputation of that organization.

Rhea Mitra Dalal said...

LOL Asmita, no it wasn't a prank. As I've mentioned many phone calls were exchanged and even an invite via email was sent to us.

Caroline Rowe, QUO said...

As a PR professional myself I'm completely horrified to hear this... it's such a shame that people are unprofessional and downright "duh" in their jobs and then the rest of us get comments like "Another PR screw up! Time the PR industry learned!" to make us feel subhuman... I think that inviting someone to a dinner is always the same, whether it's a friend to your house, a date to a special restaurant, or a member of the media to one of your client's restaurants - basic manners always apply. I make sure that myself or a team member is ALWAYS there to say hi, hand over the press kit, help with any queries, and if the journalist is alone (or has become a friend, which happens!) perhaps provide company and conversation for the meal. I hope you have far better experiences going forward! Caroline

Rujuta said...

Thats terrible and very bad on the PR part. It leaves very bad taste in the mouth..
I hope the guys learn their lesson after reading about your bad experience...

Pinku said...

oh!!! wow

thats some expereince.

and here I was thinking u will have a grand time at the bungalow.

Dylanarman said...
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arZan said...

Hi Rhea....what is Kurush's blog URL ??