VIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Q&A: Talking to Chef Vijay Anand Bakshi, about birthday parties
for kids and how timeshare comes into the picture…
Vijay Anand Bakshi has been close to epicurean cuisines for close to 20 years. Graduating from the Hotel Management Institute of Bhubaneswar, Vijay has worked in senior positions at the Oberoi Hotels, the Taj Group and recently, the Marriott in Bangalore. What sparks a glint in his eyes is the mere mention of food on board cruise lines - he has done long stints with QE 2 and Royal Caribbean, and as he says, circumnavigated the Earth three times.
Vijay's most recent venture is a chain of Kids' Cafes in Bangalore launched under the BASH and Fooba Wooba banners. Okay, but what is Vijay doing in the Q&A section of AIRDA's website?
Last week we were at a birthday party organized by Vijay, for a friend's five-year-old; we were there just to add to the fun element. The location was the party zone at Fooba Wooba - a new children's clothing store in Indiranagar, Bangalore.
Half-way through all the games and merriment, we suddenly saw a small counter set up by a timeshare company. We were wondering how timeshare came into the picture at a child's birthday party, and that's when a smiling Vijay emerged to tell us about his brainwave to include a sponsor at his events.
Over to Vijay on this amazing idea...em>
Q: How did you think of something like this, in the first place?
A: For timeshare companies the prime concern always is to find new ways of tapping into a prospect base. Look at their most ideal target group and you’ll find young professionals in their 30s (and mid-30s) coming through as core prospects. These are people who are really busy during workdays and hard to track after working hours. Can you see where I’m going from here?
Q: Tell us more, this is something we want to hear from you…
A: I usually chat with every customer who stops by at the café. One of the people I met was a young bubbly chap marketing timeshare for his company. As we chatted about sales, marketing and converting prospects, something interesting fell into place. The kind of people in his target group were the kind of parents who would have their children’s parties at my café – there was a match here, in more ways than one.
Q: Very interesting, what happened next?
A: Something was brewing out here and I asked my timeshare friend if his organization could be involved in some way at our kids’ birthday parties. He promptly checked back with his office on possibilities and decided to offer two open-date invitations, free. One to the lucky parents whose name was picked up in a draw, and the second to the parents of the birthday child. The invitation was for a two-night / three-day stay at any of their resorts in the country, subject to dates being available.
Q: How did the timeshare company benefit from this exercise?
A: We had our first party-op the other day and I thought it was a good start. The parents were absolutely delighted and eagerly looked forward to the draw after the party. The timeshare company’s presence here was non-intrusive – they had two smiling people just waiting to send you on a vacation. They also had an interesting slot box made so that people could drop slips of paper with their names and contact information. At the end of the party, the birthday boy picked the lucky winners from the box.
If you review this initiative, it is a win-win-win situation. We, as party organizers got an interesting highlight at our parties. The parents of the birthday child (and one guest) got a chance to win a really good holiday. And the timeshare team got access to a new list of qualified prospects.
A kid’s birthday party creates an atmosphere where parents are relaxed and in the right frame of mind for interactions. It gives you the right place, the right time and the right opportunity to showcase what you have to offer.
Can you ask for more?