Aviation and the $6 Hot Dog
One thing that's most noticeable in the current economy is that everything is negotiable. Customers can expect some wiggle room on prices from businesses they buy from, vendors selling to businesses are becoming ever eager to play let's make a deal. This is especially true in aviation, where many businesses are struggling mightily to keep the doors open. As the economy retracts, prices soften.
As the air show season gets fully underway, we will soon see if the organizers of these events have gotten that message, especially the food and catering vendors. One thing that frosts me about the big shows is that the cost of food at these events is nothing short of usurious. In flush times, I think most of us grin and bear it, but these aren't flush times and from my e-mail and conversations, irritation with what's seen as abuse of the show goers is likely to rise to the surface. So, will the vendors continue to squeeze us, or will they wise up and roll back prices to something reasonable?
I don't know enough about show economics and business plans to reveal the truth behind $6 hot dogs and $4 bottles of water. For reference, bottled water in a convenience store is under $2 and hot dogs are a third of what they are at a typical air show. Now I understand there's a cost related to setting up a temporary tent, staffing it and breaking it down after the show. But I fail to see why this requires a doubling (or more) of prices. Modify that: I fail to see why just because you've got a captive audience, you feel it to be good business practice to employ market-will-bear pricing on people who just want a nice outing for a day or two.
The aviation industry is flat on its butt. Many marginal participants are on the verge of abandoning it entirely and I wonder how many of them will have that switch flipped by the $40 lunch for four.
So, to the air show industry, this is the year you might want to think about carving the margin down in the food court. We're all trying to save the industry in any way we can, even to the extent of one $4 hot dog at a time.