In the dining community and the way the ecomony is right now. Do consumers still want the Half Price Dining Certificates? Can the Restaurant owners afford to have them as customers? What does a Restaurant do?
Half price might be a bit excessive. I will admit that coupons/certificates are a great way to get me into a restaurant. I have enjoyed things like $10.00 off your next purchase of $25.00 or more recently.
The economic downturn has introduced the world of discounting to many previously full paying diners (myself included) and some of the negative sentiment attached to it has dropped away.
There is now a large subgroup of frequent diners that begin first with a discount vehicle (passport card, entertainment card, restaurant.com, etc.) and then choose the best sounding restaurant from the list offered. These are not your average coupon clippers from the past. They eat out often and use discounting to discover new restaurants or to enhance their dining experience at their current favorites.
I doubt seriously the increased use of discounting will diminish much once the economy turns around so there are two questions you'll want to ask yourself: Do you have empty seats? And if so, do you want to participate in this segment of business?
Discounting is a much debated topic and there are strong arguments to be made on either side of the fence. But to answer your question “Do consumers still want the Half Price Dining Certificates?" Absolutely!
And yes restaurants can afford to have them as customers provided they are smart about it. Here are a couple of things to get you started:
Half Price is a powerful marketing hook that can be used without giving away the store.
Target the programs you wish to increase, don't be afraid to set limits on the dollar amount that can be discounted, track meticulously and evaluate the results, and never, ever pay a third party to advertise a discount for you. Instead use someone like Passport/Prime Card that does all the marketing and distribution for free in exchange for your discount or use an email marketing program to send discounts directly to your guests.
Free is key. Instead of giving up 50% of the meal, give away something like a free appetizer, free desert, free coffee and desert for 2. The loss in cost is considerably less than the meal and the impression on the consumer is that they are getting something "free". In the end you will attract the same customers (discount motivated customers) without risking positioning yourself as only worth 50%.
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