Richard McCully

Restaurant 'shaming'

How restaurants are using different online approaches during these difficult times


At the present time, with cities under partial lock down, many people in Thailand find themselves in a precarious situation where their jobs are not secure. All this puts a strain on everyone’s finances, both for individuals and businesses. 

My biggest expenditure, after rent, is eating out, and with restaurants not allowed to entertain dine-in customers, they are likely to be taking a big hit right now, 

With home delivery and takeaways their only remaining options, it’s been interesting to see the approaches they have taken. Competition is obviously fierce between restaurants and some places are starting to show the strain. 

We need your support

I’ve seen a few passive-aggressive tweets recently where restaurants are trying to 'guilt' people into ordering from them. “We’ve got rent to pay” “Our 500 baht dishes aren’t expensive – you can afford it” “Support your local restaurants” “Don’t order from the big companies”, etc.

I do empathize with them, I mean the rents on Sukhumvit for some of these places must be astronomical and I really appreciate that they are trying to support their staff by still paying them in these tough times. However, their target market is also struggling right now and spending 500 baht on a takeaway dish just don’t seem like a good financial decision for people who aren’t sure if they’re going to have a job next month or have been docked 20-50% of their pay. Shaming people who aren’t prepared to pay those higher prices isn’t a good look in my opinion.

Delivery apps

Like many people, I have started using mobile delivery apps a lot more and probably get at least one meal a day delivered to me. The delivery drivers have been fantastic in what must be a stressful and manic period for them. I imagine they are on the go most of the day. 

The business model behind these apps sees the restaurants pay a commission and, from what I hear, the drivers get around 20-40 baht per delivery. I always add on a little tip for the drivers to show my appreciation. 

The places I have been ordering from during the last couple of weeks charge around 60-100 baht per dish. I think it’s a reasonable price and I’ve been trying out a lot of new places, which I will continue ordering from in the future. I am certainly supporting local businesses and feel like I am also being responsible for my own spending, in case I need money for something else in the near future. Indeed many of these local restaurants seem to be doing pretty well in my neighborhood, busier than normal in fact. 

Each to his own

When times are good, or you have a little extra cash, going out to a nice restaurant which has a live band, great seating and awesome service all make that 500 baht dish good value.  However, when that same meal arrives at your place, lukewarm in a plastic box, it isn't quite the same is it? I don’t think I could justify that kind of price even when times are good. That’s just my take though and perhaps you feel different about it. 

It’s fair to say that I’m not a foodie. I have no desire to go to fancy fine dining establishments all that often but I will go to places that charge 300-500 baht a dish a couple of times a month. However, the issue is that it isn’t justifiable right now and I shouldn’t be shamed for choosing cheaper alternatives or ordering from “big chains”. 

Is there the possibility that these more expensive restaurants could cut their prices a little? If the answer to that is no, is that because the delivery apps take a large commission which cuts into margins too much? I’m not sure either way, however I don’t like being shamed into doing something so tweets like the ones I’ve been reading recently won’t work on me, regardless of how much I appreciate restaurants are struggling. 

Better approaches

On the other hand, I’ve seen lots of good ideas too. Some places along Sukhumvit have started offering cheap beers and drinks with their meals which is a good example of doing things the right way. They’ve come up with some clever marketing ideas and I’ve seen a lot of interesting posts on social media from them. A lot of businesses seem to have just started to offer online ordering and I hope they have seen the benefits of this. I’m sure after the virus has long gone, many people will still use delivery apps on a regular basis. 

There are also many stories we have seen online where restaurants have been giving away free meals to people who have lost their jobs. From my own social media timelines, this has mostly been the smaller, independent restaurants and stalls where the owner has taken it upon themselves to do so. They should be applauded for their efforts.

There are also a couple of online food services offering pies, curries and other food from the UK which I will order from in the coming week. They’ve all been promoting themselves online in a responsible way and it’s about time I got a Cornish pasty or five in!

Social media smart

I guess that’s my point, the importance of promoting your business in a responsible way. Be clever with your social media. There’s a difference between subtly promoting your restaurant or service and shaming people into ordering from you. 

The way I see things is that going to a restaurant is a personal choice. We consider the price, location, food and experience before choosing where to go. Right now, price is the major consideration for many. I don’t feel bad about cutting back a little and don’t like to be told what I should and shouldn’t do with my money. Sure, I’ll go back to more expensive places in the future but, right now, I’m sticking to my budget. 


If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country  


Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

Planning your new life in Thailand isn’t easy. There are many hurdles to jump and potential frustrations galore. From practicalities through to cultural issues, from finances to fitting in and making friends, there is so much to learn. Luckily, you will find all the basics explained in this 282 page book. 

Settling in Thailand takes a broad, insightful and balanced approach – neither too cynical nor evangelical, this book sets a precedent in terms of presenting a positive but realistic and non-judgemental description of Thailand life for foreign residents. 

Written by two British expats in Thailand, and with interviews with another 13 expats from around the world, you will get first-hand experience, advice and explanations of expat life in Thailand. With a combined 150 years of Thai experience this book is the ultimate guide to making sure your move and settling in Thailand goes smoothly.

Order now in e-book or paperback format.




Comments

We never order from outside but do bring a bit of food in. Wife cooks. We eat cold food which I like and wife not keen.

Best everyone watch every satang. When Thailand wakes from it's slumber the country will be noticably different. 30k+ dubious English teacher a luxury. You all may be on a plane home where huge and deep recessions await.

By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (5th April 2020)

In these uncertain times, preparing and cooking our own food would be a much better and a more hygienic option than giving away our hard earned money to restaurants or takeaways.

By WA, SEA (31st March 2020)

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