Aug 06, 2017 News
By Leonard Gildarie
Before the year is out, another major development on the East Coast of Demerara, on the outskirts of the city, is set to open its doors. No, it is not oil-related.
Rather, it is the MovieTowne, a US$30M experience spot that combines shopping, food and other entertainment, including movie screens, for families.
With the introduction of Giftland last year, a similar facility right in the Turkeyen area, several hundred yards away, the country’s capacity to offer clean fun has dramatically improved by leaps and bounds.
Princess Hotel’s movie theatres (two of them) and play park had been, before the introduction of Giftland, one of the places that families naturally gravitated to.
In a country where people have for years been starved for entertainment, the coming of Princess, and the Giftland Mall and now MovieTowne have been gladly embraced by a Guyanese public that has been limited to seawalls, fast food outlets and occasional shows.
Guyana stood by for years as television sets became popular and old movie houses like the iconic Liberty on Vlissengen Road, and Astor on Church Street, closed their doors.
This past week, we learnt of Astor being sold to a local businessman with muted objections raised after photos emerged of the building being torn down.
The movie houses, suffering from aging buildings, little investments and movies that came out months before, just could not keep up and one by one they closed their doors.
Many of the older folks would tell of taking their lovers for a date to a movie and stealing a kiss or two. Today, we have seen ticket prices for the new theatres steadily dropping from as much as $1,500 each to below $1,000 or US$5.
Giftland would be paying close attention. In addition to its screens, it has rock climbing, several food establishments and classy little boutiques. The drinking spots at Giftland boast of an inviting ambience that beckons patrons to visit again and again.
The lights, coupled with the escalators, and the drive to the sprawling building, is an experience for Guyanese who have not had the opportunity to travel to see what is being offered overseas.
Never mind the feeling that the parking area is too small.
MovieTowne, which was started up in the Twin Island in the early 2000s, has dominated the entertainment scene in Trinidad and Tobago with four big locations and is headquartered in Port of Spain.
The Guyana location would be its first overseas project. A new location for a Massy supermarket is also planned for the MovieTowne location at Turkeyen, to follow up on the one at Providence.
Giftland is also gearing up to launch its own supermarket…with the emphasis on being competitive.
So yes, we are developing our capacity nicely. Soon, we will be taking it for granted like the little malls we have on Regent Street.
The competition would be good for Guyana in many ways. We will have two major facilities now that will vie for a market that has not been fully determined as yet. There can be doubt prices would be positively impacted. The managers will be paying close attention to their competition, forcing the introduction of a service that will have to be the best.
The paying public will expect nothing less.
Last week, a friend of mine complained of taking his little son to a new fast food joint in the city.
The kid wanted a milk shake but changed his mind with the flavour after the first sip. He wanted another. My friend said that the cashier was abusive, thinking the family wanted to return the milk shake. We have to urgently raise the bar as far as customer service is concerned.
We cannot bring our problems from home to the workplace, as that would affect our work.
I was in a Vlissengen Road outlet making an order recently when a manager upbraided a bike delivery worker over where his bag was left. To make things short, the manager insisted loudly in front of customers that he was instructing the staffer to remove the bag.
The worker, on the other hand, insisted that he always left it there. He removed it, but the body language suggested that matter would not end there. The customers were open-mouthed.
The chicken and fries were good, but I had a bad taste of the affair afterwards.
Our tourism association will have to collaborate with maybe the Ministry of Business and other like-minded bodies to introduce more customer service training.
In the coming years, we will be attracting a number of large companies who are interested in oil and the spin-off activities.
The demands will see a necessary expansion in the service sector. We will have to find the people who understand all too clearly that the customer is the most important person in the business. All stops will therefore have to be pulled out to ensure we deliver.
From our security guards to cashiers, for the ordinary customers, it is the waiters and waitresses also that we have to contend with, in the first instance. The managers will more than likely be in the office or discreetly in the background.
We don’t have blue or green waters. But our biggest attraction has always been our people. They are friendly. We have good food in Guyana, some of best, I will boast. Our Pepperpot and Garlic Pork should be marketed heavily. Our Iwokramas and Kaieteur Falls are without equal.
We do indeed have a lot to offer.The change lies with us, in the mirror.
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