In the continuing journey to see if good or bad service drives business growth from a first-hand experience during my family holiday, I decided to tackle things a little differently today based on a few observations this week.
When we are on holidays and venture to a destination which is ‘in season’ and heavily populated with tourists of all shapes, sizes and colours, does it REALLY matter what the service is like, or are we (the consumers) trapped into buying from the limited range of businesses and subsequently forced to pay whatever they charge without any real ground for complaint or consequence? I am starting to think the latter is the case. I feel trapped and compelled to pay whatever it is I am told to pay and just grin and say ‘thanks”.
My journey this morning took me on a journey of remembrance, one which took me back up the killer hills from Apollo Bay up Skenes Creek Road towards Beech Forest. It was only back in October that my brother and I tackled this road as a part of the Amy’s Gran Fondo 120km ride, and it was just as bad driving up it, and wondering how the hell I made it up with limited fitness and training, but I did feel better when the peak was reached in the car versus the bike!. It was this road trip and the need for some fuel which prompted this topic.
With the option to head south and go ‘off road’ with limited fuel or back track about 15 km to top up and be safe, I found myself back at my venue I wrote about and raved about yesterday for their great service and product range in Lavers Hill. This was also the only stop offering fuel for some time so I lined up to get my top up.
It was only after filling up that I noticed the price of $1.66 a litre, which seemed a bit high. I know fuel prices are a topic much loved in the media and all over the place in Australia, but I am one of those consumers who don’t really take any notice. If I need it I get it- I don’t drive around price hunting or use discount vouchers (more out of laziness than wealth!). It also comes from living 6 years in Dubai where fuel was so cheap and no price boards existed at stations, nor did the obsession with the price variation of a few cents here or there, as here. So my point is, I think this is quiet more expensive than back in Canberra by about 15-20 cents which is substantial and soon eats into the fill up cost! This got me wondering just how much could they charge and people would still pay. There were no other choices and it really was a captive market!
When I paid, they also charged $0.50 for using a credit card! Again you can’t argue as you need to use the service if that was the option of payment you chose. Add 3 pies and a Chicken wrap to my bill and I ended up paying $105 for the pleasure- again no choice apart from not getting the pies and dealing with the hungry kids! How much can small or unique operators charge in peak season? If we come to them buy something and say “Wow that was expensive, what a rip off” we still buy it, and may in fact have to go back again if there are no other choices!
This made me think back to the places I had been to this week.
I finally got my prawns today, and while they were local and fresh (and great with some fresh garlic and oil) they were $45 a kg for green prawns, and salmon was the same amount. Again, I didn’t question it.
Fish and Chips in Lorne for 4 bits of fish, 4 potato cakes, chips and scallops about $65!
About $140 at the supermarket for real basic items like bread, milk, some fruit, coffee, toiletries etc. and then had to go again to get actual food!
It is always $50-100 each time you open your wallet. Now I am not complaining about paying for holiday expenses, as this is a part of the deal, but the prices are definitely much more than our normal ‘home’ prices. As a business coach, I would probably encourage these businesses to maximise the opportunity in peak season, but how does this affect the business long term?
How do the locals feel about excessive pricing, or does a ‘secret’ local pricing policy occur? Do these businesses charge and earn adequate profits in the 3-4 months peak season to withstand the massive winter lull? Or does the fact that every second place, including accommodation spots, have a ‘For Sale” sign answer this question?
So in such highly populated tourist locations, will we pay anything that is asked of us and accept a mixture of the good and the bad service because we have no choice, or do we bear the evil prices, but make sure that particular location is added to your ‘boycotted’ list of future holiday spots?
I would love to hear your thoughts?
Cheers from Apollo Bay….Tony
Wednesday sees the journey move to Melbourne and my favourite place- Docklands!