Did You Buy Your Tickets for Dinner?

Grant Achatz sells tickets to his restaurant 

Imagine a restaurant where you buy tickets in advance  like you do for a sporting event, a concert or an airplane flight? The price varies based on when you want to eat. 

I recently learned about Next Restaurant in Chicago that is the brain child of famed chef Grant Achatz who determined to do something dramatically different. The concept is intriguing because it challenges what it means to be a restaurant where you make a reservation, you show up and you order off of a menu. He has taken away all of that and you buy a ticket and the price includes every decision for you.  

Like Ikea, SouthWest, Drybar and others businesses, he has taken away a given within the traditional business model and has created something new. Like an airline, he is trying to use the same pricing model that says that a reservation (or ticket) on a time (flight) at great demand should be priced differently than at off-peak hours.

Frying the Friendly Skies:
From the FAQ on the website, you can see how this works...

Why tickets instead of reservations?
Unlike an a la carte restaurant with many walk-in customers and dozens of menu items, Next is creating a truly unique dining experience and doing so at an amazing price. By eliminating no-shows, requiring pre-payment, and varying the price by time and day we are able to create a predictable and steady flow of patrons allowing us to offer a great deal more than would otherwise be possible at these prices.

What does the ticket include?
Your ticket is inclusive of all food and any beverages you select. Please arrive within 15 minutes of your ticket time or we may be unable to serve you.

Can I get a refund once purchased? Can I exchange my ticket for a different night?
No. Just like a sporting event, concert, or theater ticket all sales are final.

Can I give my ticket away or sell it?
Yes. The ticket is completely transferable. However, selling tickets for greater than face value may be illegal in your area. Anyone who purchases a ticket from another patron should take care to be sure that the beverage pairing options are as claimed by requesting both an email confirmation from us as well as a printed ticket from the seller. Any tickets purchased on the secondary market are at the purchaser's risk. We will not be held responsible for forgeries or misrepresentations.

But the larger issue for me is an attempt to stand out and be noticed.  I applaud the idea of doing something that separates it from everyone else who calls themselves a restaurant.

Why do I think this such a big idea?

CURIOUSITY: Are you just a little intrigued to find out about this restaurant where you can’t make a reservation per se, you have to buy a ticket?

A GREAT STORY: This restaurant’s story will be spread by word of mouth by consumers who want to share their unique experience.

SOCIAL CURRENCY:  Finding something new and different to tell your friends about gives you a social currency of value. Next has baked it into the pie.

Now if the food is terrible, the service sucks and people are complaining no amount of creative business modeling will overcome those deficiencies. But if you have something that others can’t easily replicate and you are first, it gives you a strong advantage if you get all the fundamentals right.

What is next for you? 
If you are thinking of opening a new business or launching a new product, what will your customers talk about when they experience your products and service? If you don’t arm them with a something powerful to share with friends, you will not get the amplification needed to help raise awareness among potential customers.

I just hope the restaurant doesn't charge for luggage too.

Note: When I am not trying out new restaurants or searching for interesting marketing models, I can be found trying to unravel the mysteries of marketing. Won't you come along for the journey and share this blog with friends who might find these posts of interest?  

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