Overpriced Mexican food


My family has a vacationing tradition: try to cram as much as possible into as little time as possible. 14-hour days. Photographs requiring the entire group to pose minus the photographer every three minutes (often in crowded locations where we are blocking faster-walking people behind and in front of us). Bigger tourist attractions only: in our case, Vegas and Hollywood Boulevard on Memorial Day Weekend — lots of walking, lots of driving, mostly in traffic.

And a funny thing happens when large groups of people cram into a single tourist attraction, trying to get the most out of it as possible: they become very much willing to part with their hard-earned money when they normally wouldn’t.

Case in point. We ate at a Mexican restaurant at Universal Studios’ City Walk whose primary marketing strategy was very apparent: upsell, upsell, upsell.

After suggesting alcoholic beverages for purchase (normal), the server gave us three (yes, three) opportunities to order appetizers, and asked us if we’d like to pay for an additional side order (guacamole) that we had finished before offering to take our order (which I had to aggressively push them to do).

While the food was being prepared (over 45 minutes), someone came by and took photographs of the entire table from many different angles — which later proved to be akin to purchasing a Splash Mountain photograph, teasing us with the finished and printed photos and then dropping the bomb: $20 per photograph.

The bathroom had no option to grab napkins or soap our own hands; an attendant provided those and a tip jar was filled with dollar bills, suggesting that a tip was required.

Now, I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I feel a little bit insulted. Mediocre food, mediocre service, high prices to begin with, and continuous upselling. Some might call that a lack of integrity.

On the other hand, I speculate that this is intentional because the goal isn’t to please repeat customers. The customers are hungry now, and they are here, and they will probably never be back, and possibly they will have bratty kids who are sick of walking and waiting in lines all day. If I was a business owner of a food establishment located directly next to an amusement park, it might make the most sense to increase conversion per customer, given the likely statistic that they are unlikely to come back again. Smart business move.

Anyways, what do you think? Smart business move or modern-day charlatan?


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