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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three reservations in one day.

Friday night dinner with my wife, mid-week professional dinner, and a haircut to look a little less shaggy at both.

In each case, the person taking the appointment was courteous and helpful and gave me the exact time slot I wanted – everything I could ask for.

It is well established that the reservation is my initial customer role in the successful delivery of a dinner or haircut service. I expect the requirement and comply. I would be taken off guard if, for example, I had to make reservations to spend an hour at the gym, but not at a reasonable restaurant.

But I hate making reservations. It’s time consuming, a hassle to remember the appropriate period ahead of time, and I would prefer that part of the experience go away completely. Open Table is a dramatic improvement, but I'm not a fan of model overall.

My Question: Are reservation systems still necessary, or could restaurants, salons and other reservation-taking experiences (doctor’s offices?) manage their demand the way other industries do and eliminate them? Airlines have long managed their supply & demand by changing prices on certain lanes in certain directions, putting off-peak seats on sale, and generally using price to balance these expensive networks. Energy companies do the same thing, charging less for off-peak power use to bring balance to their networks.

Could a restaurant manage demand by changing price (increasing for peak slots on weekend nights, decreasing for Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s), adding service value on off-peak nights (for example, most restaurants are provisioned early in the week. Could a special entrée or a “restaurant regulars program” be structured around evenings early in the week?

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