More than a meal
In the last of his column series, Ramzey Choker shares his approach to creating an experience that his customers never forget.
What do you want each customer to experience when they visit?
Creating a memorable experience is the core goal I strive for at The Grounds of Alexandria. I created The Grounds from my own memories of my mother’s farm and in turn, I wanted to create a place where my guests can create their own memories with loved ones.
I focus on satisfying the five senses; touch, sight, sound, smell and of course, taste. I work with my creative team to create a journey through The Grounds where people take a step out of Sydney and feel they are in a completely new space.
With such a multi-faceted venue, how do you guide customers through the site?
The Grounds can almost feel like a labyrinth with how many areas and sights there are to see, but this allows our guests to explore the site freely and discover something new each time.
One of the most enjoyable things for me is seeing returning guests conducting their own tours for friends and families and therefore creating their own memories.
We also have great staff who are always enthusiastic to show guests around.
How do you manage busy times within the venue?
Weekend wait times can always grow rather quickly and it’s important to keep guests entertained. We do this by having different areas to explore on site. This can mean grabbing a takeaway coffee and sitting in the garden underneath our cooling misters or taking the kids for a visit to Kevin Bacon [the resident pig]. It’s also important to surprise guests while they are waiting – it can be as simple as staff chatting to them and making them laugh.
What is key in terms of staff-customer interactions at The Grounds?
We always strive to be unique and memorable at The Grounds, and our staff reflect that. We hire for personality as we know skills can be taught but personality cannot! Having genuine staff who believe in hospitality is so important, as they will be the face of your guest’s experience.
How do you decide whether to allow advance reservations or work on a first-come, first-served basis?
The Grounds is known as quite the tourism destination and as such we believe it’s important that our guests know they will have a table when they arrive. We also welcome large groups and know it can be concerning to our guests if they cannot reserve a table. We don’t want anyone to miss out on our experience!
The Grounds of Alexandria, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria, NSW 2015; www.thegrounds.com.au; 02 9699 2225; firstname.lastname@example.org for all marketing, media & partnership enquiries; email@example.com for all general enquiries