Bookings for banquets on the rise

Ready to serve: A couple of restaurant employees checking the bookings made for year-end celebrations at their restaurant in Logan Road, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Bookings for wedding banquets and company annual dinners are picking up again after a drastic drop due to Covid-19 restrictions early this year.

A restaurant owner, who wished to be known only as Yew, said they had received bookings for weddings comprising about 30 tables for each event, while some companies had started making reservations to host their year-end meals.

“The restaurant is now offering packages ranging between RM200 and RM2,000 per table and orders are picking up.

“We decided on the packages to cater for the upcoming feasts and celebrations, but have yet to promote them due to uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.”

Yew said that most of their customers were regulars who were assured of the restaurant’s safety measures.

As added precautionary measures against Covid-19, Yew said all 100 employees in their three outlets underwent regular Covid-19 tests.

“All employees are tested weekly for a report to be submitted to the Health Ministry.

“For those serving dinners or feasts, they need to undergo another test before starting their duty for the occasion,” he said.

Yew, however, noted that bookings for this month were currently about 30% lower compared to 2019.

“This is probably because many companies made less profit during the pandemic.

“Fortunately, there are still a few companies that did well and are willing to spend more to reward their employees,” he said.

Penang Koo Soo Kwong Choon Tong Restaurant and Tea Shop Association chairman Vinah Yee said although bookings for weddings were picking up at a slow pace, restaurants were seeing growing demand from families.

“We have about 360 members in the state and 80% of them are still in operation since Covid-19.

“Very few wedding bookings have been recorded since they are usually done a year ahead. We expect the number of wedding dinners to go up only after the first quarter of next year.”

She noted that many tables were being booked for family reunions and for those who had not met one another for a long time.

“Corporate dinners are now more focused on providing encouragement to employees to strive higher rather than rewarding them for the year as many companies suffered losses and less work was done during the pandemic,” she said.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman K. Raj Kumar also found that bookings at hotels were picking up.

“Some events which were postponed earlier are now resuming,” he said.

“Many hotel ballrooms are fully booked every weekend until February. Some hotels are even catering for weddings on weekdays,” he added.

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