My thoughts on 27Dinner last night.

I’ve pretty much gotten into the swing of things when it comes to all things geek networky here in Joburg.  I’ve attended 3 Jozi 27Dinners now, and I feel I’m allowed to have an honest opinion on them, since I’ve spent enough time drinking the cocktails and lending my ear to hear what the speakers have had to say in the past. Most of the time I was totally impressed and in love with Team27 for their organisational skills of awesomeness.  Last night, not so much.

So, I’m going to do the disclaimer thing here and let everyone know, this isn’t anything personally insulting.  I’m going to bitch though, and I hope it can be taken not to heart, but to head.  Err.  That sounds dodgy.  Anyway, back to the bitch:

FTV’s service:

  • if not for the awesome manager Sue, I would’ve gone without a drink the entire evening.  The waiters ignored our table outside in order to shake hands and mingle with friends of theirs.
  • Sue organised something for me the minute after she witnesses one of her waiters LITERALLY push me out of the way to get out the door, ignoring my request for service.  I had a moan at her about teaching her staff some manners, and she acted on it professionally and within two minutes, I had a cocktail in my hand.

The Cover-charge:

  • Whilst I fully support there being a cover charge for the evening, last night’s R100 was a rip-off.
  • Firstly, we did not plan on eating there and had deliberately eaten before hand as we were starving, but when we got to the door we soon realised that it wasn’t optional.  Fine, I thought, I’ll get cocktails out of it.  Hah! What cocktails?  They were all gone, when a group of us asked about the supposedly sponsored cocktails, we were told that we’d missed the boat and that if we wanted anything, we should pay for it.

The Food:

Fair enough, I’d already eaten – but the geeks I was sitting with hadn’t, and the few platters that were scattered around the place were pretty much filled with nothing and chicken bones.  Definitely not worth the R100 they paid for to get food.  If the people were late in arriving, then I can understand missing out.  But from what I saw, there wasn’t enough to go around.  And what was left, was kak.  What’s worse is that I saw a few people actually ordering meals later that evening.  Look, I have proof:

food

Why did that have to happen in the first place? Because the R100 paid wasn't worth the value expected.

Picture 2
Picture 1

Walter Pike. Not a happy chappy.

Picture 4

The Summary:

  1. I fully support the cover-charge idea for 27Dinners, whether they’re sponsored by corporates such as eBucks or not, why not make a buck or two out of the organising?  But when you ask for it, don’t give the impression that it will be for “food” if what you’re actually offering is “mild snacks for when you’re drunk, vegetarian and possibly already fed”.  Then it might actually satisfy someone.
  2. Rethink the FTV venue and what it has to offer.  Sue is a smart woman, I’m sure with her and your brains you guys could come up with some sort of set menu of sorts.  Preferrably, go back to individual bills accountable by each individual.  I’ve been a waiter before, it’s really not that hard to organise who had what and how much they owe – this really shouldn’t be an excuse.
  3. Aside from the rant above, I had a pleasant evening.  Networking with like-minded people is something I love to do, and will continue to do so despite paying a hundred bucks to not eat or drink. 27Dinners have taught me a lot about this industry and has aided in me meeting some true role models and impressive people.  The speakers and the people are what I’m there for, not the food.  Although that’s kind of important too, when you’re six drinks in and need to drive home – food is helpful.
  4. Justin Spratt is hot.  That is all.
  5. Please don’t lynch me at the next 27, I’ll be cowering in the corner if you must though.

18 comments

  1. Angel says:

    You beat me to it, and so eloquently too. It was my first 27Dinner, and whilst the speakers were good, I certainly didn’t get what was promised. And something that struck me too was the waitrons seemingly charging what they liked. Glugster paid R27 for an Amstel with one dude, but R17 a little later with someone else!?? Seating for everyone woulda been nibe too.

  2. Walter Pike says:

    Hi

    For perspective:

    As always the event, the people, the networking and the speakers was great.

    Nobody makes money out of this its really just a bunch of people getting together.

    I also “missed the boat” on the cocktails and the food was inadequate.

    Melody was great – and arranged that a take away pizza be made for me when I complained.

    I am sure that we can get a venue with management that cares.

  3. Shebee says:

    Angel – I still can’t believe that.

    Walter – I don’t think that it’s management not caring, I think it’s more of them not coping, to be honest. I feel terrible saying this because I know Sue personally, but I just don’t think that FTV is the venue for us.

    And if we do have the cover-charge again then it should be better organised, like with tickets or something. Two free cocktails – a ticket for each, to be handed in at the bar or something. And decent food at the very least.

  4. Champ_Payne says:

    I agree, Next time I will be packing my own tuna and will stay outside.

    Point of note: Order on those waiters. shocking! Lets get with the economic times, we are innovative so why not be smart about this? Give us a happy meal and a coffee, Blue Bulls dancing girls and Kurt Darren. what more do we need at a dinner?

  5. Sally says:

    while I think the more open plan lay out worked better for network it did mean that if you were not near a table you did not really get to eat. Can’t we just leave eating as optional and people can order off a menu and pay directly if they want to eat?
    I like the idea of getting a cocktail voucher – seems fairer to all that way.

  6. Melody says:

    Hmm, I won’t lynch you Sheena… well much 😉 My response, guess one is needed.

    Firstly we love having you guys attend the dinner, its for you after all, and we would hope that the opportunity to network, meet new people and hopefully be inspired by the speakers is as much a reason to attend as any.

    As for the food and cocktails, since I was relegated to the door most of the evening, it was difficult to see what was happening food wise, drinks wise, I was told numerous times that everyone was hydrated, fed and happy – the management of FTV assured me that they had asked everyone if they had eaten enough, and that everyone had – uhuh.

    I am Greek, albeit half-baked, but I am a feeder, ask anyone that knows me, I like to make sure people eat, in abundance. Nothing irks me more than people leaving hungry – so I am peeved to say the least, also because I can’t really do anything about it after the fact. What I would’ve loved: people coming to tell me they had not gotten their drinks, food and that they were being ripped for a Heineken. Had this been the case, I then would’ve taken an FTV clad individual and made sure it was rectified, the force is strong with this one, but my telepathy has been lacking of late 😉

    Charging upfront for the food, was by no means a cop out, at every other dinner we really have stacks of folk not paying and when we make no profit on the dinner, its no fun having to fork over the cash.

    I appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts and being honest, despite being blissfully unaware of my black belt in karate – kidding.

    I will do my best to improve on the comments made, and would appreciate some concrete suggestions to go along with the criticism.

    I’ll take it like a man – well kinda and suck it up. Hope everyone will be at the next one, and I promise to ensure you go home bursting at the seams, more than that I cannot do.

    I also mean what I said in my tweet, if anyone left hungry last night, i will take you for a McDonalds burger, since that was what everyone had anyway, slight retribution.

    I hope you left last night, remembering rather some of the laughs shared and wisdom spoken, as opposed to feeling cheated.

    Cheers
    Mel

  7. Shebee says:

    Hey Mel,

    There were a few suggestions in the comments, and although I realise you’ve had payment issues in the past – if we find the right place, the staff will KNOW how to run multiple bills. It’s absolute hogwash that people should pay in for others who have run out. If waiters were more observant and on the ball, this wouldn’t happen. What happened to the days where they were held responsible for bills not paid?

    Thanks for responding. Next 27Dinner is an absolute positivity – and I would’ve complained to you in person, except you’re so bloody pretty and popular the moment never arrived :p

    I did take to task the FTV staff where possible though.

  8. Melody says:

    Well then my task for attendees is as follows – We need a venue that meets the following criteria:

    * Holds between 150-200 people
    * Is Central with parking available
    * Does not charge venue hire
    * Has decent food, at reasonable prices
    * Has some measure of ambiance
    * Has competent staff
    * Does not charge venue hire
    * Has competent staff (ok I know I repeated those)

    As for me being too pretty… whateva! :p Next time, find me, talk to me or my Vulcan death grip will be deployed 😉

  9. Mike Stopforth says:

    Hey Sheena

    Thanks for the suggestions and comment. My 2c.

    We organise these dinners cos we love to. And cos it’s great PR – let’s be frank. Most often we get it right, and sometimes (in this case due to variables beyond our control), it ain’t perfect. But few people sit back and think about what really goes into:

    Organising the dinner from scratch
    Sourcing speakers
    Maintaining the site
    Seeking sponsorships
    Making sure all goes smooth ON the evening
    Keeping everyone (especially fickle effing geeks,) happy 😛

    Last night’s cover charge happened because to date I have paid in excess of R15k out of my own pocket for food, over the course of 44 dinners, because fuckwits walk out early without paying. I know who some of these plonkers are and they STILL attend, and generally complain before anyone else. They are that pathetic. Sadly every community has it’s lowlifes and generally, everyone suffers for it.

    We continue to strive to make these events everything everyone expects them to be – no mean feat. We trust you monkeys will continue to support us and encourage us when we’re not 100% perfect in future…

  10. The Goose says:

    I agree with all Sheena’s comments, especially the one about Spratt 😉

    Seriously though, I am a proper 27Dinner Veteran (since the third one, actually) and the best one by far was 44 Stanley. I know that the venue is far out so I wouldn’t suggest going there again, but if we could replicate that vibe and the food arrangements somewhere else, I would gladly fork out the money for it. I think the general consensus is that FTV is not the place for us.

    That being said, the herculean effort by Ms. Maker and the Cerebra crew to make these events the amazing things they are is not going unnoticed. I know that this is not your core job and we really appreciate all your work Mel. The reason we bitch is not cos we don’t care, it’s cos we do. You have made 27Dinners the highlight of our geek existences and THAT’S why we turn into a bunch of brats when things go pear shaped . 🙂

    Thanks for caring and understanding, we know you’ll take our comments to heart (as your reply indicates you will) and the next one will be ROCKING!

  11. Shebee says:

    Mike & Mel – dudes, like I said above; I fully support the cover charge. Just not if I’m supposed to be getting something that isn’t available like with the incident of cocktails and food.

    If it were a case of R100 cover to get in and be awesome, then at least we’d have the choice before hand to decide if it was worth it or not. At least then that’s what we’d expect – to get in and just be there and not stand around looking disappointed because there wasn’t enough catering.

    Look, I’m still newish to Joburg, but I think its only fair for you guys to open it up to the crowd on where the next venue should be.

    And it goes without saying that us monkeys will support 27Dinner, through the good and the bad. Which is why I decided to open my mouth in the first place. Better that than a whole bunch of us brats never saying a word and not coming back. Feedback, positive and negative, should always be taken as a compliment to your functions, guys. Like Heidi said, at least you know we CARE enough.

  12. Shebee says:

    Mike – 15k? Jeebus, oke. I think the rest of us should buy you a drink each over the next hundred 27Dinners to make it up to you, k? I’ll put it up on a twitvite thingy for you so everyone knows 😉

  13. Melody says:

    Hey Heidi,

    Thanks for the comment, 44 Stanley was cool, but everyone loved it because I arranged free everything.

    Hey you win some, you lose some – its all good 🙂

    Now, back to my real job – see you all at the next one, where any brats will be spanked 😉

  14. Justin McCall says:

    Hey guys. On the food note, what we did for 27Dinner in Durban, was the restaurant ran tabs for everyone, so you just gave them your name and they added what ever you ordered to your name. Then, before everyone leaves, they brought us our individual bills. Look, it is easier in a smaller group (only 30-40 of us) but I’m sure it can be implemented in one way or another. We had one waiter and a host dealing with us, and they were marvelous. Definitely heading back there again. Hope that helps.

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