|NIGHTSPOT||OF THE YEAR 1999|
Picking the Stars
The Tourism Awards, which enters its 14th year, has fast grown in size and stature. Introduced to raise professional standards in the tourism industry, it started off with only seven categories in 1985.
The Singapore Tourism Board [STB] aims to make the awards so prestigious that they become the industry awards, coveted by one and all in the industry. And it appears to be fast moving towards that direction.
This year, the Board received a record 33,000 nominations from the public and industry, compared with 12,000 last year.
Judges for each category
Assessment is based not only on nominations. There is a rigorous judging process with a team of judges for each category. The judges conduct interviews with the nominees and also go out to visit establishments incognito.
Short-listed hopefuls have to undergo a written Service Traits and Attitudinal Response Profiling test administered by SQ Centre which plots an individual's service attitude profile. The judging process takes about two months.
Nightspot of the Year: China Jump Bar & Grill Singapore
Still packed to the max after two and a half years in business, and now recipient of a prestigious tourism award, China Jump is the envy of many a nightspot.
Many a nightspot owner would drool at the idea: snaking queues persisting almost two and a half years after opening. That in the face of keen competition in Singapore's nightlife scene and it is an enviable achievement.
For China Jump Bar and Grill, this is a pleasant "problem" that it experiences at least three times a week, on Wednesday's Babe Central night as well as on Fridays and Saturdays.
Colloquially, it is referred to as the "happenin" place at Chijmes, and many see it as the anchor tenant at this restored Victorian landmark on Victoria Street.
Few would be surprised that it bagged the Nightspot of the Year in the Singapore Tourism Board's Tourism Awards 1999. Mr. Clark Martin, China Jump's operations director, says its success can be attributed to a combination of three features - good customer experience, good value for money and a good product which includes palate-teasing and liberal American-sized meal portions of American, Mexican and European cuisine plus retro music.
"That is what keeps them coming back," he said. "As they walk out the door, they are leaving with an experience."
And this "experience" has much to do with the choice of music - a mix of retro 60's, 70's and 80's music with a dash of the 90's and motivated staff.
"Before we set up, we spent months researching what would be the right music for the Singapore market," he said. "We have a very stringent music policy."
As for staff, China Jump believes they have to be well-trained, well-rewarded, provided with a career, and given licence to be spontaneous. The more money China Jump makes, the more they get.
But money - the bonus plus percentage of sales they receive - is not the only incentive for the staff, most of whom have been with the nightspot since it began.
"More importantly, we provide them with training and goals to achieve. They have a sense of ownership in the place," said Mr. Martin.
There is a training manual for just about everything that the nightspot does - from the food, to knowledge of drinks, the door and how to train a trainer.
Add to this recipe the flexibility and impossible-to-fail choice of music that China Jump offers, and you have a winning formula.
Flexibility comes in the form of three features: the bar, restaurant and disco, and the mood changes through the night. The evening starts off with mellow music with a slow tempo while families, the office crowd, young couples and tourists dine. As they round off their meals, the tempo rises when the party crowd takes over.
Sunday offers a different scene with late breakfast from 11am to 2pm and more food fare in the afternoon.
Even a winning formula has to be refreshed with innovation, and China Jump's ability to constantly update itself has helped it to become a pacesetter. Its Babe Central or Ladies' night every Wednesday offers the fairer sex not only free entry but free house pours all the way from 9:30pm to 3am.
Other joints that have tried to cash in on their ladies' night often find it difficult to match the five and a half hours of free flow offered by China Jump.
Smooch every Thursday: Guests pucker up and kiss someone, anyone, while a Polaroid snapshot is taken. When presented at the bar, the snapshot gets the couple 50 per cent off drinks all night.
The "hugely popular" Dentists Chair: Even serious chief executive officers have been seen having tequila and lime juice poured down their throats until they "surrender".
The flair shown by bartenders like Fifi, who uses his hours behind the bar and a lot more time off-duty practicing, has a following all his own.
China Jump, which was first set up in HongKong, is working on expanding with a second outlet in Singapore.
Beyond Singapore, it has plans for an outlet in India and later make further inroads into South-east Asia.