Diners should welcome the ticketing system

Diners should welcome the ticketing system

Last week, the LA Times did a piece on how a new restaurant is implementing a ticketing reservation system much like the one used by Alinea and Next. The new system requires diners to pay in advance for a ticket at the restaurant. The ticket covers the cost of the meal in addition to tax and tip. For many diners, the advanced purchase may seem a bit peculiar, if not an upsetting development in the restaurant industry. However, I think that from a diner’s point of view, this is something that we should be completely happy about and we should welcome it with open arms. The pictures in this post actually came from a disappointing coffee shop that served decent coffee but super dry cake. Can’t win them all I guess, I won’t bother going into details about it but you can see the name of said coffee shop in the picture of the cappucino cup.

There are several reasons to welcome the ticketing reservation system to the restaurant industry. I’m going to give you three:

Number one reason why diners should welcome the idea of a ticketing reservation system – it will reduce the price of the meal. This might seem counter intuitive to us because when we make reservations, we can normally cancel. This loosely implied contract provides the diner with the upperhand. There’s a seat if we show up, but no downside if we change our minds. This actually makes it more difficult for the restaurant to buy enough food that they know they will sell. It’s inefficient for restaurants. Inefficiency in a business is generally not eaten as a loss by the owners, it’s usually passed onto the consumer. The more efficiency a business can enjoy, the more possibilities there are with savings for the consumer. Less waste equals more affordable meals for everyone. This is a win.

Number two reason why diners should welcome the idea of a ticketing system – your table is always guaranteed for the time listed on the reservation. It’s not uncommon for some restaurants to overbook, forcing some customers to have to wait past their reservation time for a table to clear. If tables are sold as tickets, this would never be an issue. Restaurants that know the table is sold will make sure there is food for that table and that the table will be available for the ticker holders. As the saying goes, time is money. The less time you wait for your table equals more savings for you, the consumer.

Number three reason why diners should welcome the idea of a ticketing system – you will enjoy your meal more. This idea comes from behavioral economics. There’s such a thing called the pain of paying. This is why it feels easier to pay by credit card than it is to pay by cash. Paying in advance also reduces the pain of paying because what happens is that these restaurants that sell tickets almost force you into advance purchase by default because they are so popular. If you buy two tickets for a dinner in two weeks or a month, what happens to you psychologically is that it might be painful to pay at the time of the online purchase, however you never see a bill at the end of dinner (if you skip alcoholic beverages). Essentially what you have is this experience of dinner without whipping out your wallet at the end. Actually I think restaurants could improve this system by pre-selling alcoholic options like beer or wine tasting or a flight of non-alcoholic sodas/cocktails.

As you can see, if you as the diner want to have a good experience with dining, you will love the ticketing system. I think we need to hope for greater efficiency in the restaurant business and give up the idea that we deserve the upperhand in the current rules of restaurant reservations. Think about it, you could have a great dinner for two, where the conversation is great, and you’re just having the time of your life. There’s no waiting in the beginning and there’s no check or fussing with tip at the end. How great would that be? This should be the future of dining and diners should embrace it.

Posted by Danny on April 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

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