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Thu 13 Aug 2009 04:00 AM

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Sing for your supper

The recession has resulted in some lip-smackingly good F&B promotions in this region, says Lucy Taylor.

It is generally acknowledged that the hospitality industry here has enjoyed a pretty easy ride for the past couple of years, but now times have changed: the global recession is biting and business is down.

Not used to being anything other than fully-booked, F&B operators had a nasty shock when the economic slump hit and suddenly their restaurants weren't automatically full every night.

However, the ramifications of this unpleasant wake-up call have been surprisingly positive: the region that previously had its customers on a plate is now having to sing for its supper - resulting in some lip-smackingly good F&B promotions.

Because today's challenge is not that people aren't dining out; they are simply being more choosy about where they spend their money, so it is up to outlets and their marketing teams to devise creative new ways to sell, sell, sell their product - and this is exactly what they have been doing.

Recent ingenious sales-driving inventions in the F&B marketplace include the Crowne Plaza Dubai's ‘temperature discount': each day, the hotel checks the official daily temperature in Dubai, then diners at its F&B outlets benefit from an equal percentage discount on their food bill.

And the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai has launched its exclusive home-catering service ‘Events by JW at Home', taking advantage of the current ‘value-for-money experience' mantra to offer bespoke party packages exactly fitting the customer's requirements, held in their own home.

Meanwhile The Monarch Dubai is allowing guests to "name their price for luxury" in a new online bidding system, whereby visitors to the hotel's website can make an offer for rooms, meals or spa treatments, finding out within the next few days whether their bid has been successful. (Sources have emphasised that only reasonable bids are considered, so don't bother chancing your luck with an AED 1 offer!)

The overriding lesson to learn from these examples is that today's operators are prepared to think outside the box to encourage custom.

From a business perspective, I'd advise outlets that haven't already done so to start brain-storming: it looks like there's going to be a fierce fight for F&B business from Ramadan onwards.

On a slightly different note, I'd suggest you do your brain storming over lunch - that way, you can check out competitor offers while enjoying the delicious deals out there!

Lucy Taylor is the editor of Caterer Middle East.

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max 10 years ago

Restaurants in Dubai remain vastly overpriced when compared to comparable establishments worldwide. Still a rip-off, especially the price of wine.