Restaurants try variable pricing

restaurant.jpgWhy should customers eating at 5 p.m. on a Monday night pay the same as those eating at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night? Taking a cue from airlines and hotels, restaurants are adjusting their prices according to time and day of the week. So far the preference is to lower prices during the off hours as opposed to raise prices during the peak hours. From the NYT:

Savored, used by more than 1,000 restaurants, asks diners to make reservations online. (It is working on integration into OpenTable, the reservations system used by about 44 percent of reservation-taking North American restaurants.) It offers discounts for the less popular times, usually 15 or 30 percent off a bill. It is applied to the check before it reaches the table, so there are no coupons. Savored studies a restaurant's traffic pattern, and those of comparable places, to suggest when to offer discounts: Saturday nights at the Capital Grille, a steakhouse in the Wall Street area, are slow because it attracts a workweek crowd, so all Saturday-night slots are offered at a discount. But at Fatty Crab in the West Village, the only discounted Saturday-night slot is at 11 p.m.

In L.A., Savored has discounts of up to 30 percent tonight at R23, Chaya Brasserie, Gordon Ramsey at the London, Matteo's, Obika, Restaurant 2117, and quite a few others. Most of the places have availability at 7 or 7:30. I suspect some of these restaurants are using Savored as another means of discounting at non-peak hours (just as they do with Groupon or other coupon programs). That's different from the sophisticated pricing methods used by airlines.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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