This article is an afterthought of what I have seen the previous week during a nice holiday abroad, an so many times before.
It is a rather common experience. We booked a one week vacation in a nice sunny place, with palm trees and a hotel that seems to match our requirements. We choose half board and to have our dinners in the hotel’s restaurant.
As so often, the courses are offered as buffets: starters, main course, dessert and cheese and fruits. I assume buffets are a convenient way for the staff to accommodate many customers showing up in unpredictable waves as well as giving them the feeling of unrestricted access to all food they like.
Now the various dishes on the buffets are arranged like so often machines in a factory: similar close to each others yet placed where some place is found. And most important, without much consideration for flow.
In our case, guests are visiting the buffets from any end, jamming and almost colliding in the narrow alleyway with their hauls, while hesitant people just stay pondering their next possible choice in the middle of it.
The hot dishes buffet is set behind a huge pillar, providing more opportunities for guests collisions, as those coming around one pillar’s corner can’t see the human traffic that will emerge in front of them, and conversely.
The dessert buffet was maybe the worst, because it was set in a one-way, dead-end kind of corridor.
Sounds stupid, not efficient? I do think so.
Now, did any of the numerous managers of this place think about efficient, seamless customers’ flow? Probably not much. Disappointing as so often, as I thought restaurant and hotel professionals should be experts on how to organize a buffet. And not only from the nice looking perspective. Over time I gave up with this assumption that showed false so often.
Who said common sense is common?
Now to be fair, if I conducted a survey with the customers in those restaurants, I would probably have very few analyzing the situation as I do. My guess is that most of the guests accommodate themselves to the traffic and layout and focus on the display of food instead. What would they answer as to their user experience? Food was great / good / plenty / fresh / refilled…
Well this is the trouble being a consultant making a living with operational excellence, you just can’t switch completely off during holidays.