Demand Management Provides Business Model

As a start-up it can be tough to know when you'll get customers, how many you'll get, and when they'll show up. These problem plagues larger businesses as well, and one start-up just launched a service aimed at increasing business during slack times at restaurants.

We're talking about what economists might call demand management. You might recognize the concept if you've used Priceline or a similar service to get a travel service at a discount. If a hotel room goes empty, there's no possible revenue for that night, and the money unused airplane seats flies away with each flight. These businesses use services to offer their inventory at a discount to recoup an acceptable amount of revenue.

In the same way, an empty table at a restaurant is a wasted opportunity. The restaurant has wait staff, chefs and bartenders waiting to serve customers. Enter Village Vines, which enables customers to receive preferred pricing at top restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with more cities to come. A customer pays Village Vines $10 for a reservation to get a spot at a top restaurant like Devi or Artisanal in New York at a discount.

For the restaurateur, “We had nothing to lose by trying the service,” said Carolyn Thalin, Director of Marketing at world-famous LeCirque, which launched a month and a half ago with Village Vines. “We can select the times for reservations. Every restaurant is going to have slower times, so we can offer earlier or later dinners and seat tables that may not be guaranteed to be filled on a regular evening.”

Read more…