Scan of a prix fixe menu from Lotos Club, New York City, March 4, 1893. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A boat ride is a nice idea, especially on a hot summer day. A boat that takes you on a 45-minute trip on the Hudson, leaving from a midtown pier in Manhattan. The ride itself is free, a nice touch, since they serve food and alcohol and hope to make their money that way.
We tried it on a weekday, since we (correctly) believed it would be less crowded. Weather ideal, boat not crowded, food fine. So why am I telling you all this, since, after all, this is a marketing blog?
Because of that old problem: customer service. When I had checked out the boat ride online, I was delighted to see that they had a lunch combo special, weekdays, available between 11:30 and 3:30. For twenty bucks, you could get an appetizer and a sandwichy thing. (For New York, and on a boat, that is more than fair.) Except that when I got on board, and we decided to have something to eat, the lunch combo menu was literally nowhere to be found. The server had never heard of it, and when I went to the bar inside, the bartender looked all around and said she would have to go downstairs to see if she could find one.
I came back ten minutes later, and was presented with the lunch special menu she had located. We ordered, ate, and it was ample and tasty. But (unintentional bad pun alert) it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.
If you decide to have special, reduced price offerings to attract customers, don’t make it a game of hide and seek to locate them. At best, it reeks of “bait and switch.” If you don’t want people to order the specials, perhaps because the margins are too thin, then don’t offer it. Or shorten the hours it is available. Or whatever. But the smartest thing to do is proudly present the list of specials along with the regular menu. Because nothing will disgruntle a customer more than finding out, after they have eaten, what they could have ordered. And this is true for any discounts you may be offering, whether you are serving food, selling paint or shredding hard drives.
Got the idea?