Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Como Shambhala - a great place to hold weddings


I just came back today from a Bali wedding.. and I had a great time tho this is the first time we did such a big scale wedding for an overseas destination where almost 100 guests flown in to Como Shambhala in Begawan Giri, Ubud from all over the world.. There are special lightings to be installed on the trees for a outdoor concept, African Chant and Bali Ringet, fire dances, rain stopper to hope to stop the raining season in Ubud (which I didn't really believe ), and the authenticity of Bali cultures..

At the end of the day, when you saw the smiles of my couple' and their guests, I know it was a memorable wedding.. guests danced from 8.30am to 12 midnight, and still lingered to chat... My bride danced all night, while the groom has too much to drink... and everyone was happy. Our groom sent me an email today and said "Hannah : Thank you again for a sensational job. Well done!" But what pleased me most is, I witnessed one of the most dynamic, personalised and efficient team of Begawan Giri. Now I would say to my customers, paying US$50K to book the entire estate for a wedding (besides the the F & B cost) is worth it.. you have personalised and willing butler, and the view of the most relaxed place. The butler was so attentive and detailed, and always willing to serve you to a point you feel you are the queen at that villa... I know I will come back to this resort if not for another wedding, it will be for a stay for myself... such is the service level of a boutique and luxurious resort. Much to learn from even for the service level of 5 stars hotels here.

Coming back home, the only thing I look forward is being with my Granny.. seeing her walking independent, and smiles on her face brought such peace within. Tho I have much cares to handle when back home, somehow I know God has been good.. and I determined to bring back the serenity of Bali back to the lifestyle in Singapore..

Friday, April 20, 2007

Customer Service = Your Service Their Experience

I just replied a disappointing email to the Chef Owner of a well known restaurant in Ubud... M.Bali. Today, I ran around hoping to secure a good place for a pre-wedding party for my couple.. and I learnt a new lesson in serving customers.

I called up a particular restaurant and asked "Hi, can I speak to Miss XX...as I have made a booking thru her for our couple for their pre-wedding party. This is their big day and I want to make it special. Besides, my couple is a regular patron of your restaurants, and we hope to confirm a few elements. And the reservation staff simply replied"Miss Hannah, I am taking over Miss XX.. I will send you a fax, pls fill up the form, if we do not receive the form and the guaranteed details in 2 hours time, we will not guarantee any booking. And I looked at my watch, that's so much to do in 2 hours, I had to call my client, get his credit cards, and apparently I have to photocopy his passport and credit card and rush to fax over the letter, in the mist of all my meetings in order to secure a booking.. The mere reason was the restaurant was very popular.. and they cannot entertain such bookings even the couple is a regular guest.

What irritated me was not meeting all these booking requirements... it was the way the staff has put forth in processing the order.. She literally forgot who is the customer..
Reluntantly, I have to ask them to speak to my couple directly. And the same crude treatment was given. Later that night, I met up some industry owners, and realised the restaurant was well known for their arrogance and inflexibility.
Eventually, with the help of my business partners, we found an alternative place for our couple. The owner of Lambak Restaurant in Bali, Mr Roland Lickerd was not only willing to accommodate last min request (we called him at 9pm, asking for special customised menu for 8pm tomorrow), he rushed to make some calls, quicky do up a menu for us.. and even arranged complimentary transfers for us..

What a difference in service attitudes.. Sometimes, when one company gets famous, they forgot the fundamentals that make them famous.. it was really not just the food or product they sell.. it's the experience customers are requiring to make their day count. At the end of the day, today's customers are paying to create or indulge in an experience.
My groom eventually sent a email to the former restaurant "If you can't accommodate the booking, then we simply look elsewhere..." They have just make one unhappy customer. I am certain my groom is not coming back to this place ever even if that's the best restaurant in that city.

In our industry, we always must remember, we are living in a changing environment.. we are creating impressions everyday, and everyday's impression overrule the other.. even if we choose to believe it or not. And the more I am in this industry, the more I have to remind myself of that.. Let's not forget the fundamentals of Customer Service - Your Service Their Experience.

The Pursuit of Happyness

I just arrived in Bali.. I recalled on the plane in SQ, I was watching the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" acted by Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith... I must say Will Smith is one great actor, he captured the very essence of desperation and determination..

The movie is abt how a talented and smart sales man can still struggle to meet daily needs.... and how he determined to run and literally run to see his dreams come true.. I was touched by a statement he made to his son, "Dun ever let anyone tell you that you can't.. They may try to use their own experiences and circumstances to demotivate you.. but dun let them make you believe that...
Finally, in the mist of true perseverance and consistent humbling, he eventually was one step closer to his dream. And I looked back.. Hannah, isn't this story familiar...
Ya, when I first started this company, some of my friends questioned : are you sure to give us a director's job for this.... the guy I once liked said "Hannah, you are making a big mistake."
But I knew I was not.. I knew I was cut out to be a business woman, an entrepreneur and eventually a designer...

I remembered pouring out all my savings to this dream, and believed it would be a Heaven's Gift for me.. I recalled not getting paid for 9 months.. and could not sleep for half a year... and when all things seems dim, there was a voice that says.. You can make it.. in my 10th month, I closed a deal that made up all that I have lost in 6 months... God is faithful...

And ever since, all is history.. I dare not claim I have reached.. But I am grateful that today's Heaven's Gift has grown to be more matured, more professional and more innovative... I have also realised how much influences I have been given to shape the weddings my couples dream abt, how much my intuition has become my sense of good judgement for fashion and designs...
At the end of the day, it is like what Will Smith has described.. Happiness is to be pursued ... it's not just given, it's determination to believe and put feet into your belief.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Emotions before a wedding trip...

Today, when I saw my granny, I was so happy.. she's so much better. The past few days since last Thursday was very intense.. My granny got a heart attack on Thursday, and from the state of her being chained to the bed with all medical tubes and equipments, to now, being able to move slowly & freely and seeing her smile and chat to us, I was so relieved..

I must admit I was relunctant to leave for Bali for this week when the whole incident happened... but God is faithful.. I know He will carry us thru. And the last min details for Bali were as overwhelming too... but Elena was really a great help.. and Mindy has been very supportive as well... Thank God for good colleagues...

Now I am more ready to go for my wedding trip... but the mood is different, I can't wait for the wedding to be over, so I could spend more time with Granny... So instead of extending longer, I decide to cut short the trip and come home quickly....

Lord, pls take care of my family when I am busy preparing other families' celebrations and union.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lord, I want a miracle for my Granny...

Wokeup this morning, received a call from Aunt Serene, and my granny woke up, having difficulty in breathing and was sent to A & E straight away...
Thankfully, I have only 1 meeting today... but my heart was overwhelmed.. Granny is one person I love dearly and so close too... and I am not ready to let her go...

Finally we got to see her, with all the tubes and medical equipment.. and her eyes were staring right at me.. she is in pain and discomfort.. and I just couldn't stop my tearing rolling...oh God, pls help her, pls give her strength and energy to press on.. pls do a miracle...
And while i am preparing for the wedding in Bali next week, with the concurrent wedding matters for all other brides.. I just let go all my heart and simply pray..

Lord, give me the strength to be the pillar of the support to my loved ones esp to my granny
give me hope to believe that all things are possible with you..
give me joy to know this year is a victorious year, and a year of blessings from your Lord..
give me peace to just simply rest in You...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Interesting discovery....

Monday is usually my off day..., I suppose most of my couples are familiar now with our operational hours...Yet, me being workaholic usually ends up finishing some calling work on Mon, esp calling the suppliers...

And today, I happened to talk to one hotel, introducing myself since my couple just engaged me to manage their weddings... The catering personnel asked "Hannah, can you give me a profile of your company... so would like to know more abt you, and maybe I can refer clients to you..." I laughed.. no worries, you can know more abt me throught my website and my blog.. they tells a lot abt me...

I ended up later talking to fellow planner, Caroline... and had a good chat and laugh abt working in this industry.. somehow, we have come a point that we do not mind sharing our woes, joys and experiences.. and realise it doesn't matter whether people know us, as long we enjoy doing what we do, and learn to laugh it along whenever, wherever we can...
The almight One above has after taken good care of me and made my company known in such a short time... and I am happy and contented.

After last nite of letting go... I have also learnt to be at peace with myself... to love is to let go, be it love for someone, a love for your career, a love for you passion, etc etc.. when you finally get to that point of willing to let go the very thing you have spent your love and energy on, you know nothing holds you to believe in greater things to come...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Today's decision : Let go & let God...

Today is Easter, seeing all the hard work put in for the theme park and having the children enjoyed themselves in Jewish settings, it really pays off... esp on the part of the crucifixion scene... the emotions were intense and the message was clear.

Yet in the mist of all the busyness... something unexpected happened. Had invited someone I love for this carnival, and the first moment we talked, he said "hey, the girl I like is helping in the carnival too.." And the first response that came out of my mouth was "then you should go and propose to her.."Before I could let my emotions sink into my heart, I was back to the carnival to help again.. and only till later, I realised, that remarks given hurts within...

And eventually today, I made a decision.. Lord I am letting go of my desires.. and let You take over.. After all, having planned so many weddings, and seeing how you are the perfect matchmaker for many, It's too tiring to hold on to such affairs of the heart esp when it is one-sided.. despite all the good reasons that may say otherwise... it's not worth thinking deeper and wondering further... Move on, Hannah, let go and let God.. After all, God knows what He is doing.. and affairs of the heart is not worth pursuing...

Lord, replace my ponderings with Your promises You have made with me. I trust Your perfect plan, and I want freedom and breakthru in this area...Not my will, but thine be done..

Friday, April 6, 2007

Refreshing change - my vision of what wedding is...

Today is a great day for me.. I met up 2 couples that met me for first time, and had a great time shopping with my bride and her Korean hubby. Simply interacting with these 3 couples, I felt an excitement even planning for their wedding...

In the past, I was always quick to accept deals, tried to close as many deals as fast as I could, saying yes to all my couples' requests, and be willing to compromise as much even to the very principles I held on to. But I had soon realised that that was a wrong step in business. After all, business is not all abt closing deals, it is about running a profitable business that you are passionately excited abt, and satisfying clients who trust your expertise and appreciate your works.

Today, I received the most compliments I found within a day.. The first couple walked in, written a brief for me how they wanted their wedding to be. I was really impressed.. this is my first couple that took the efforts to write me a brief.. and at the end of the day, my bride said "Hannah, we really hope you could do our wedding, I am sorry we got our dates confused, pls update me soon how you can help us."Simply just talking to this couple makes me happy.. A Swedish Italian and a unconventional Singaporean, lots of humour and fun just listening to them. Oh how I want to design this wedding..

Next, I met another local couple. Have never met them, but they were ready to sign up with me.. I hesitated and advised them to view my works first, after all choosing a planner is all about believing in their works, and having a connection with whoever you engage.
At the end of the discussion, my bride simply said : Hannah, we are very comfortable with you, we hope you are comfortable with us, and we are ready to sign up with you...

On my way back, I felt an inner peace, God, this company is truly a Heaven's Gift for me.. Over the past 3 years, I have grown to believe in myself for the works I have created.. I have also learnt that choosing your clients is important to a business.. it's better to work with people who are excited abt their wedding, willing to explore with you, and believing in our works, and simply learning to enjoy and have fun thruout the entire planning process.

This is what wedding is all about : Celebrations, celebrations, celebrations. Weddings is never abt making sure everything goes smoothly, it is not about ensuring you get the best deals out from every suppliers, it is not about making it a showcase for all to see, it is not about doing it for the sake you have to.. But rather it is an occasion to celebrate your union with the one you love, to celebrate with your families and friends whom you enjoy to be with, and to be blessed with those who want to bless you and be a part of this celebration...
This is how I feel about real weddings...and I aspire to share this vision with many.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A real joey maybe...


Had a long day.. came back abt 9.30pm.. and received a call from one of my ex-brides - Sue Ann.. "Hannah, I love the video..." and we rattled.. Then she asked, "I heard you are getting a puppy is it true?" No I can't.. where do I have the time to take care.. as much as I know I wish I could have one.

She described her puppy to me, how both of her life and her husband changed ever since this little one came.. I laughed.. She's amazing.. it's liken having a real baby...

I looked at my little Joey.. what will happen if I really get a real Joey...

I am now convinced, as a woman gets older, the maternity instinct grows... and I can't deny mine is growing stronger everyday..

Moments of Stillness


Past few days went off so fast, I finally finished all the props preparation for this coming Easter, completed planning a wedding on 1 April 2007.
So happy that all went well, one of the guests actually called me today and asked me for one of the songs that was played in the wedding, and thanked me for a lovely wedding... It was a pleasant surprise.

After the call, I stared at my screen for a while... I was glad, yet there was some moments of indescribable emotions. Pastor prayed for me last nite that I would find rest in the mist of the busyness.. and this morning on my way to the office, I suddenly felt I was driving on a foreign road, as if I was back in Melbourne again. I recalled the short films I saw this morning too.. and missed the moments of those quaint Colonial houses, with beautiful gardens, and neighbours simply taking their leisure stroll in the gardens.

Ya, I am in my dreamland again.. I do miss the quiet moments I had to myself in a strange land and taking my time to appreciate the moments and surroundings around me. Somehow, my heart aches again for those still moments. This picture is a good illustration of how I felt, longing for a new morn in a new land... and the memories of my beloved one flashes back again and again.. when is the day to come, Lord?