Saturday, 14 December 2013

Waves of faces

Cuca’s opening marketing strategy was to focus ourselves on every single guest, welcome them with open arms and make them feel taken care of, spoiled by the food and our sincere smiles. We were determined not to advertise anywhere, firstly because after building the entire restaurant we were seriously broke and secondly because our thinking is: who is going to believe an ad someone has paid for? People believe friends or acquaintances who have tried a place and eagerly recommend it.

Things could have turned sour and we may have failed badly as we knew nobody in Bali so not even friends or relatives could help us out to start spreading a good word about Cuca... However our humble strategy and very hard and long hours of work slowly started to pay themselves back.

It all started by Kevin himself in full uniform fishing for customers among the tourists at the nearby beach (“Come, I will cook for you!”). Once convinced, they would walk in, sit down and be in awe with our food. I guess it is not that hard to exceed low expectations :). Most of them would return the following night and then promise us to tell their friends back at home, write something nice about us on Internet or share their unexpected find with their fellow hotel guests.

It was shocking to start getting guests recommended by previous ones… It was working! Our strategy was working! Then the power of Internet multiplied exponentially the chain of recommendations and the word of mouth started to cross borders. Believe me, it is still truly magical to witness day by day and first hand this phenomenon.

While tourists came and left, we started to recognize faces that kept on coming, every time with different company to show new groups of friends their recent discovery. We know each other by name and they are now our regulars.

At the end of October the tourist season significantly slowed down and locals took over. Guests from Jakarta or Bali timidly walked in knowing exactly what to order. It seems they always watch out for reviews about new places and wait for the tourist wave to leave before trying them themselves.

We are now preparing ourselves for a new tourist peak season: our first Christmas. We don’t know exactly what is ahead of us but we are ready to embrace this new chapter with our eyes wide open, a well-laid table and a Cuca smile that will make you feel at home away from home.

Nuestra estrategia de marketing desde la apertura de Cuca ha consistido en volcarnos en cada uno de nuestros clientes, recibirlos con los brazos abiertos y hacerles sentir mimados tanto por la comida como por nuestras sinceras sonrisas. Decidimos firmemente no anunciarnos en ningún sitio, primero porque tras acabar la construcción del restaurante nos quedamos sin un duro y segundo porque nuestra filosofía es que nadie se cree lo que dice un anuncio por el que se ha pagado. La gente cree lo que le dicen amigos o conocidos que han probado un lugar y lo recomiendan fervientemente.

El plan nos podía haber salido realmente mal porque cuando llegamos a Bali no conocíamos a nadie así que ni siquiera amigos o familiares podrían habernos echado una mano para correr la voz sobre Cuca… Sin embargo, nuestra humilde estrategia y muchas horas de duro trabajo empezaron a dar frutos.

Todo empezó con el propio Kevin en uniforme cazando clientes entre los turistas tumbados al sol en una playa cercana (“¡Venid y cocino para vosotros!”). Los convencidos venían a Cuca, se sentaban y alucinaban con nuestra comida. Claro que no es tan difícil superar expectativas tan bajas :). La mayoría de ellos volvía a Cuca al día siguiente y nos prometía que hablaría con sus amigos de vuelta en casa, o escribiría algo sobre nosotros en Internet o compartiría este inesperado descubrimiento con otros huéspedes en el hotel en el que se alojaban.

Al poco tiempo estábamos encantados de empezar a recibir clientes recomendados por otros que ya habían estado en Cuca… ¡funcionaba! ¡nuestra estrategia funcionaba! Y fue entonces cuando el poderoso Internet multiplicó exponencialmente la cadena de recomendaciones y el boca a boca comenzó a cruzar fronteras. Creedme, es realmente mágico presenciar este fenómeno día a día y de primera mano.

Mientras los turistas iban y venían, empezamos a reconocer caras que se repetían, cada vez acompañadas de amigos diferentes a los que traían para compartir su descubrimiento. Ahora sabemos sus nombres, ellos saben los nuestros y se han convertido en clientes habituales.

Al final de octubre la temporada turística disminuyó considerablemente y entonces los indonesios hicieron aparición. Clientes de Yakarta o Bali empezaron a aparecer tímidamente sabiendo exactamente qué pedir. Parece ser que los locales siempre están al tanto de las críticas sobre lugares nuevos y esperan a que la ola de turistas se vaya para más tarde pasarse ellos y probarlos por sí mismos.

Ahora nos estamos preparando para una nueva temporada turística: nuestras primeras Navidades. No sabemos exactamente qué nos espera pero estamos preparados para recibir este nuevo capitulo con los ojos abiertos, la mesa bien puesta y una sonrisa “Cuca” que os hará sentir en casa aún estando lejos de casa.


  1. Hey, that “Come, I will cook for you!" part is epic and it is somehow genius. All the best for Cuca! You guys are the most humble restaurant owner I've ever met.

    In case you forgot : ;)

    1. Dear Sharon, we miss you! Come again to Cuca! We have now a very nice lunch set, come and ask for "Cuca Pockets".

      We are very, very lucky with our guests. You all make such an epic adventure so much easier and definitely the most rewarding effort we have ever made. Thank you, Sharon!!!

    2. Hi Virginia!

      I'd be glad to come back again soon! Ah I miss Bali. And of course I miss Cuca as well!
      Nice! I also read somewhere (perhaps on Cuca's facebook page) that Cuca now have a new door as well. Bet there are a lot of improvements there.

      Good luck, you guys!!!

  2. A friend of mine who reviews for a luxury magazine had told us Cuca was her most favorite restaurant in Bali and took ud there before we left to go back to Australia. My partner and I were just blown away with each and every detail, it was truly a humble experience and the most inventive weve seen.Thankyou for opening such a killer place to be and we will deffiently be back and reccomending it to everyone we know!

    1. It feels so wonderful to read your message! Thank you so much for your kind words. We really do everything we can to make our guests feel special, both with the food, the ambiance and the service. Obviously it is not that easy to achieve it so we are super happy to read we made it with you! Thank you and we hope to have you back at Cuca soon!

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