Rafi Mohammed

How Do You Top All You Can Eat (or Use)? Offer MORE!

Posted on April 26th, 2011 (1 Comments)

I often advise clients to consider offering an unlimited option for their products and services. This strategy can be profitable because a segment of consumers are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of not having to think about price every time they make a purchasing decision. Also, in some cases, the unlimited option provides the added benefit for patrons to try more (i.e., foods at a buffet or activities at an all-inclusive resort).

Of course, the downside of unlimited is the “over-indulger” who takes advantage of this pricing plan. In 2003, Red Lobster offered an unlimited crab legs special for $20 (later raised to $25 in some markets). Let’s just say that Red Lobster rolled the dice and lost their shirt. On the day that Red Lobster’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, announced the losses associated with this unlimited crab promotion, its stock market value dropped by over $400 million. Umm…someone lost their job.

In line with its razor sharp focus on excess, Las Vegas has become the mecca of all-you-can-eat buffets. With “on the strip” buffet prices and offerings ranging from $85 (Bally’s Sunday brunch which includes items such as lobster tails, filet, and champagne) to $11.99 (unlimited prime rib at Circus Circus); there’s something for everyone.

So if you are a Las Vegas buffet, how can you top these offerings? It’s simple – offer more! How can you possibly offer more? Harrah’s in Las Vegas has rolled out a new pricing plan cleverly coined “Buffet of Buffets.” For $44.99 (if you join their free players club), you garner unlimited access to 7 different buffets at Harrah’s properties for 24 hours. Harrah’s properties include notable hotels such as Caesars, Paris, and the Rio. Given that dinner alone at Caesars is $27, a diner on a mission of excess can seriously take advantage of this offer as many overindulgent eaters have reported doing on Yelp. Want a few passes for free? Harrah’s is providing 2 complimentary passes for visitors who stay at one of its properties for two nights.

This new plan has been predictably popular. Harrah’s initially believed that 200 people would gorge themselves silly daily. However, on its first day of sale, 715 passes were sold by noon. This plan really can’t be good for the health of diners or participating restaurants. As a director of nutrition at Albert Einstein College of Medicine opined, “The only thing missing, like they had in ancient Rome, is a vomitorium.”

By the way, if you are in Las Vegas next week, please catch my speech on pricing strategy at the Car Care World Expo on Tuesday, May 3. My speech is from 9:15 – 10:15 AM and then football legend Joe Theisman gives the keynote at 10:30 AM.  

And don’t worry…I promise not to indulge in the Buffet of Buffets.

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Readers' Comments on This Blog Entry

From Scott on April 26th, 2011
How is this different from the Red Lobster offer? Maybe you can explain in your next blog. Also, can you blog about pricing in the green energy segment sometime? Thx.