This Tequila Bar Uses an Uber-Like Pricing Model

gold tequila with salt and lime

gold tequila with salt and lime

We’re accustomed to prices for everything from airplane tickets to car rides (hello, Uber!) being moving targets — subject to something called “surge” or “dynamic” pricing, in which the amount you pay for goods or services fluctuates depending on real-time supply and demand. If a lot of people want flights or rides when you do, you’ll pay more; on an off day, when demand is low, you’ll pay less.

But barring happy-hour specials, most of us are used to the price of a drink at our neighborhood watering hole being pretty stable — not something that changes from one minute to the next, depending on what and how much you and the guy at the other and of the bar are tippling.

That is not the case if you’re drinking tequila at The Blind Burro. The San Diego Mexican restaurant and bar, which lists more than 100 tequilas on its menu, uses a dynamic pricing software system called The Drink Exchange to track patrons’ orders in real time and set menu-item prices accordingly, the Associated Press reports. The fluctuating prices of the bar’s selection of tequilas are displayed on TV screens around the bar: Depending on demand, a drink that costs $8 one minute may be $7.50 the next — or it may shoot up to $12.

“Just purchase a drink featured on the TV Display and watch the prices change!” The Drink Exchange website touts.

The software, which the company’s website describes itself as “a Stock Market pricing system designed to increase profit, attract patrons, and create an exciting and dynamic environment,” is now being used in about 20 food and drink establishments.

“In the old days, dynamic pricing was thought of as a pricing technique used in fixed capacity industries such as airlines,” pricing strategist Rafi Mohammed told the AP. “But the new thinking is dynamic pricing can be used in any industry where demand or supply fluctuates.”

The gimmick sounds like fun, but drinker beware: It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and drink more than you might have otherwise — and The Drink Exchange is designed to take advantage of this likely occurrence. “Patrons will capitalize on ‘good deals’ and purchase more items than usual,” the software system’s website promises potential clients.

Plus, The Drink Exchange encourages its clients to list high-profit-margin items in the system, as well as products for which they are receiving “kickbacks” from liquor distributors.

“Most Drink Exchange clients are being compensated by their liquor distributor to assure that specific items are listed in the system,” the company’s site notes. That’s something to be aware of as you choose your booze, but the relationship with vendors may actually work in bar patrons’ favor.

A while back, The Drink Exchange makers told Wired they wanted to use the system to help companies test market new products — in which case price parameters may be set very low in order to gauge interest and response.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Keep Reading

Next Up

Some Like It Hot: Using A Thermometer

Millions of people get sick from undercooked food each year— many chalk it up to a stomach bug or the flu, but oftentimes the cause is the food in your own home. Using a thermometer makes sure you’ve killed those pesky bacteria lurking in your food.

How to Eat Like You're at the US Open

Make these Food Network recipes during the tournament and you’ll feel like you’re sitting courtside.

Are Meat-Based Protein Bars Worth the Epic Price-Tag?

An RD gets to the meat of this popular food trend.

Creative Uses for Tortillas

Think beyond the fajita and find fun new uses for corn and flour tortillas for every meal of the day.

Your Bacon Obsession Is Boosting Prices

Demand for bacon in or on everything from doughnuts and funnel cakes to Tater Tots and shrimp tempura is driving up the price.

Peanut Butter Prices on the Rise

That peanut butter you’ve been snacking on since childhood is soon to undergo a price hike.

Beyoncé Goes from Workout to Treat Yoself (Just Like Us)

You know how you sometimes reward yourself with a post-workout treat? Beyoncé, too.

New Uses for Leafy Greens

The health benefits of leafy greens are numerous and to eat more of them you'll have to think beyond kale chips and sauteed spinach.

Creative Uses for Pita Pockets

Sure you can stuff a pita pocket with healthy sandwich fillings, but think beyond the sandwich and try one of these 7 new uses for store-bought pitas.

Using Fresh and Dried Herbs

Can you use dried herbs instead of fresh?