Dubai’s Discount Culture

I’m a sucker for discounts. I am that person who swears by the Entertainer. New bar? I’ll wait till they have a ladies night. New brunch? I’ll wait for the 241. With all the many gatherings I have organised, I always thought I was contributing to the hospitality industry. I mean c’mon, this entire blog is based on deals.

Then 2020 came along. Covid hit the hospitality industry so bad, then this article in Arabian Business popped up in July when Dubai was slowly crawling out of the ground. Fast forward 6 months later, thanks to residents who can afford to spend, and tourists flocking in – Dubai’s F&B industry seems to have largely survived.

Or, does it just appear so? Are they actually making money?

I happened upon this article in Caterer Middle East the other day, and thought to myself – the F&B industry probably hates me 🙂 If I had a middle name, it will probably be ‘discounts’ 😉 Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Look, I understand we’re trying to get rid of this ‘discount culture’. But there has to be a balance. If you’re charging 100 AED for a pizza then sorry, I’m not paying full price for that. There are a lot of places that we’ve been going lately that does not involves vouchers and I find that they have done well for themselves with just getting the basics right – good pricing, good food, good ambience, and most often times, good service as well. But with all that, it still comes down to getting the marketing right because we all know that using the Entertainer, Cobone, Groupon – it’s not just about the discounts, is it? It has become so common that it’s actually a platform for getting the word out. And for those outlets who don’t want to do deals at all, you need to have a strong marketing strategy otherwise – who’s going to know about your brunch if it’s not on the Entertainer?

I still believe in what I wrote few years back – the simple points of ‘Why we return to the same restaurants.’ You don’t need to introduce ridiculous discounts to get people in. Once you figure out your target demographic, let the PR guys do their thing to get the word out whatever way they choose to – the big publications like What’s on, Time Out Dubai, or via Influencers. Once you get the first wave of people coming and if you got your points right – it’ll just spread the best way – that’s good old fashioned word of mouth.

So to the industry – I wish you all the luck you need. I’ll help as much as I can – be it the marketing aspect or simply going there and spending money to buy that coffee. You do your bit. Cause if it’s too expensive, if the food is not good, if your staff gets the wrong order or simply does not remember me eventhough I’ve been there 10x, then I’ll lose interest. Get it right and we’ll be back again and again 😉

PS – Has anyone noticed that a lot of venues are no longer in the Entertainer?

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PPS – Are you a sucker for discounts as well? 😉

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Dubai resident. Stays most of the time in the marina as she can't be bothered going anywhere else after work and in the weekends. Originally from the land of the orang utans, spent the latter half of her life in the land down under. Always on the look out for deals, loves organising get-togethers, and occasionally steals some time for a sip of wine or four at ladies nights.

2 thoughts on “Dubai’s Discount Culture

  1. good article

    the problem is a brutal battle between two entities that are in reality – both on the same side

    restaurants vs customers

    we both want the same thing – value for our money and restaurants want value for their fare

    restaurants are forced to inflate their prices because of sky high expenses (rent, salary, etc etc)

    every restaurant wants at least 15% profit

    customer wealth does not match those prices – so we seek discounts

    expenses need to come down or customer income go up

  2. Hey – thanks for leaving a comment.

    It’s a tough one isn’t it – trying to find a balance to keep both sides happy. It’s also interesting to know what it’s like from the restaurant’s side.

    I see a lot of high-end restaurants popping up and ‘appear’ to be doing well, thoughts are they target a certain elite group which don’t mind paying 85 aed for a quinoa salad, and there is enough of them in Dubai to keep profits high ??

    I assume the ones struggling are the mid-level restaurants? Hopefully with building rents going down, it’ll help a little ><

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