In June, Dubai slashed municipality fees on sales at local restaurants and hotels from 10 percent to 7 percent to reduce the cost of doing business
With several F&B concepts in Dubai requesting customers to pay a 100% deposit for their meals upon reservation, dubbing it a ‘booking fee’, hospitality chief Tony Habre says the price is "too high" for a night out.
Habre is the founder and chief executive of F&B management and concept creation firm Addmind, which boasts several venues across the UAE and Lebanon, including casual Italian restaurant Matto Dubai, rooftop lounge Iris and social restaurant and bar Indie.
“A 100% upfront deposit for a dinner reservation is too high, and we don’t implement this practice at Addmind,” he said, adding that high booking fees do not represent the initial concept of hospitality.
“I agree with implementing a booking fee on busy days/nights, but I don’t think this fee should exceed 30-40% of an average, expected check as this doesn’t fall under the hospitality concept,” he said.
Habre told Arabian Business in 2017 that customers should not “need to eat with AED1,000 to have good food”.
“All over the world, the best places are not that expensive anymore. We’re going to hit the market where any person can spend AED300 but have the service and the quality of an outlet where you usually pay AED700,” he said at the time.
He added that expensive dining is an issue Dubai needs to solve, explaining that in major cities such as New York or London, few people spend over $200 per person on eating out.
“And now since Dubai is going down a little bit, rent is getting better. Everyone is getting to know that, ‘hey, we need to solve that issue’. The customers can’t pay AED800 anymore. That’s what happened all over the world in major cities,” he said.
Despite the city boasting more expensive dining outlets than affordable ones, Habre says, he expects competition to lead to “better” and “normal” practices adopted in all mature F&B markets, “with 100% [booking] fees not being the standard (with exceptions at restaurants that tend to be busy on a daily basis).”
He said restaurants who apply the high booking fees will likely experience a decline in business, unless customers find it worthy to risk losing 100% of their money on booking fees and potential guest no shows for group outings.
In June, Dubai slashed municipality fees on sales at local restaurants and hotels from 10 percent to 7 percent, in a move ordered by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, to reduce the cost of doing business in the city and help promote it as a destination.