Not About Food

Irrationally far-in-advance bookings: an increasingly general trend

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Irrationally far-in-advance bookings: an increasingly general trend

AlexRast | Aug 31, 2014 03:34 PM

I'm noticing a phenomenon that started with restaurants, particularly ones with a lot of "media hype" around them, but seems to be migrating to all walks of life. It's the trend for everything to require booking weeks or even months in advance. In the past, it used to be that you could have a reasonable expectation of being able to just turn up to many things, be they restaurants, art galleries, major sights, or just about anything else, and get in, at least if you timed things reasonably intelligently. In the worst cases a week's advance booking usually was plenty. No longer.

The "system" has got to the point in a lot of areas wherein you may have to book for anything 3 months, even a year in advance, to have any chance. This is an irrational situation, in my view. It makes an absurdity of any kind of reasonable planning, obviously eliminates even the possibility of sponteneity, makes no allowances for contigencies (illness, accident, transport difficulties, or anything else), and essentially requires that you lead a completely fixed life with absolutely planned daily schedules and utterly regular patterns, extending years into the future. I very much doubt if more than a tiny fraction of people have that sort of predictability, and even fewer probably want it.

That this problem is occurring suggests a serious failing in organisations' ability to cope with volume of demand, and it would seem, lack of originality in coming up with creative solutions that permit reasonable flexibility. Can anyone suggest any reasons why 1) volume of demand for *anything* has leapt to such a disproportionate extent; 2) places (but particularly restaurants in a Chow context) don't seem to be able to find the imagination to come up with reasonable solutions? (It will be noted that while of course, for some, cynical market manipulation is probably a factor, I don't believe this is the only - or even the prevailing - reason for the problem).

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