Would you pay extra for a prime-time reservation?

Would you pay more to book a reservation at 7:30pm than 5:30pm? According to the NY Times, in one way or another, this is a trend which is starting to gain footing.

 The restaurants’ premise is that a dinner at 8 p.m. on Saturday should simply cost more than one at 5:30 on a Monday. “Restaurants are catching up,” said Sheryl E. Kimes, professor of operations management at Cornell’s school of hotel administration. They are betting that consumers, used to paying extra for holiday-weekend flights, V.I.P. seats at the theater or umbrellas on the street after the first raindrop hits, will also pay more for their Friday-night dinners out.

The tools of variable pricing range from a Groupon or Gilt City coupon to a notification from the mobile app Leloca, used by restaurants including Mas (La Grillade) and Centro Vinoteca to let restaurateurs send on-the-spot deals to Leloca subscribers in certain locations when, for example, that 9 p.m. birthday-party group doesn’t show up.

A Web site called Savored, which Le Cirque uses, offers discounted meals based on reservation time.

… 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.

I haven’t heard of this happening in Portland yet, though some coupons restrict usage to less popular dining times. If this system came to Portland, would you pay extra for a prime-time reservation? There is a poll on the home page: http://pfdrink.com. Take a moment and click on an answer; I’m curious to know.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. zumpie says

    Wow meals are discounted when you dine at earlier times? Isn’t that more commonly known as “Early Bird Special” and “Happy Hour”? And has been around as a formof pricing discrimination or yield since, like, forever?

    What this tells me is that upscale, NY Times four star restaurants are having trouble filling seats. And looking to generate revenue during off hours.

  2. GaryO. says

    Next Restaurant opened in early 2011, and it has used variable pricing since they opened. Achatz’s other restaurant, Alinea, has just instituted variable pricing. More aggravating is their policy in only selling “tickets” in increments of 2, 4, or 6.

    • PDX2CDG says

      Getting a ‘ticket’ at Alinea is liking winning the lottery. Their policy is even numbers are efficient use of space. No three tops, no one top, imagine if you wanted a dining experience all to yourself….it’s a no go…..unless (of course) you have connections in high places… really high places!! It’s good to be king!

  3. Michele says

    This question might be phrased a different way. The question might be “Would you be encouraged to make reservations at earlier hours if you knew your meal would be discounted during those times?” This is simply about restaurants trying to give consumers incentive to fill up tables earlier and moving capacity to those off peak times. The later diners aren’t being penalized with higher rates it seems to me. Looks like the earlier diners are getting rewarded with lower rates. And in all of human behavior, you get more of what you reward.

  4. One Swell Foop says

    Hell no. I don’t go to restaurants during prime time anyway, I value my experience too much. The one exception is brunch. Particularly for dinner, the last thing I want is to have to wait longer for drinks or food because the restaurant is slammed. I’ll go earlier or later and enjoy my experience thankyouverymuch.

  5. ZChef Adam says

    Instead of paying more for prime time, increase revenues by discounting or offer incentives for patrons who make reservations during non peak hours. Paying more for prime time will allow wealthier people to occupy the popular times and in turn, alienate patrons that may not have the money or as many opportunities to go out for a nice dinner experience. Moreover, the restaurant industry IS NOT comparable to the airline industry, since restaurants ahave become more customer conscious, while the airline industry has done the complete opposite, and you see how much people love flying…..

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