Let me share a story with you about a recent restaurant experience.
Myself and some people from our office went to nearby restaurant for lunch. Sort of a diner-type place; a place where you’d expect decent home style food at a fair price. Nothing fancy, but good food for good value.
So I ordered one of my usual favourites at such a place, and a few minutes later I had my toasted ham and Swiss sandwich. Here’s what I got: you know that really low-end ham you can buy? The kind that appears to be 40% water by volume? The kind that leaves a puddle on your plate? That.
And it was topped by a slice of processed Swiss cheese (which, unless on a burger with sautéed mushrooms shouldn’t be used for anything, and even that’s a stretch). This was accompanied by a couple of leaves of iceberg lettuce, on white bread, with a couple of swipes of mayonnaise.
You know what it tasted like? Nothing. Watery ham with processed cheese and iceberg lettuce with mayonnaise on white bread toast. It would be hard to make something with less taste.
If it was my restaurant here’s what I would do: get some decent quality ham; maybe some Black Forest or honey ham, or if you’re ambitious bake your own and slice it. Or at the very least slice that lousy ham thin and throw it on the flat top for a couple of minutes to add some flavour and remove some of that moisture.
Then I’d add a slice of real Swiss cheese. I’d add some baby Romaine lettuce, or maybe some mesclun. Maybe even a little bit of shredded cabbage or a light coleslaw. I’d make a special mayo with a little bit of horseradish or mustard in it. And I’d offer it on something more interesting than white bread. Maybe some kind of whole grain loaf, or maybe a bagel.
Sounds pretty good eh? And it’s not complicated. I would just sweat the details a little to make sure my guests got something better than ‘ok’. I mean, who wants ‘ok’?
‘But!’ I hear you saying – ‘that will cost more!’ Yes it will. But if the quality is good and you’re offering good value, your guests won’t mind paying for it.
I think the sandwich I had at that restaurant cost me around $3.95. Pretty inexpensive, and probably still a decent profit margin for the restaurant. But you know what, I never went back. None of us ever did.
If you had made the sandwich the way I would, with better ingredients resulting in a better product, you’d probably have to charge maybe $5.95 or even $6.50. That’s still pretty good value for lunch as far as I’m concerned. There might not be quite as much profit for the restaurant. But you know what? I would go back. Often. We all would.
You don’t always have to offer the most extravagant activities, or have the absolute best products – but what you should do is try to objectively measure the value your guests receive from the tourism experiences you provide them.
Are there opportunities to make small changes to what you offer that can really enhance their time with you? And isn’t it better to make these changes, adjust your pricing a little, and create happy guests who will return and tell others about your business . . . than to leave them less than satisfied with nothing positive to say? Sweat the details.
Oh, that restaurant I was talking about? They went out of business a few months after our lunch.
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