you one of those owners who doesn't want to raise fees because you're afraid of
losing patients? Assuming that you have a reasonably good location, a nicely decorated
office and an efficient, well-trained staff, I have some advice: Please quit worrying
so much. Your middle and upper income patients don't want cheap, they want nice.
If you don't believe me, just look at the startling
transformation Las Vegas has undergone in the last decade. Historically known for
luring gamblers with $9.95 lobster buffets and $49 rooms, Las Vegas has gone upscale
big time. Last year my room at the Venetian cost $275 per night and dinner
with a group of optometric colleagues at a fancy French restaurant cost $100 per
If you are one of those optometrists
who thinks consumers go elsewhere when prices go up, then you would assume that
traffic has to be down in Las Vegas. But just the opposite has occurred. The city
Take room availability for Vision Expo
West. As of this writing, approximately six weeks prior to the meeting, the Bellagio,
a five-star property with 3,000 rooms, was quoting $459 per night for September
16. That's about five times what the average optometrist charges for a basic exam.
Of course, the Bellagio doesn't have to contend with managed care. But they do have
plenty of competition as Las Vegas has more than 125,000 hotel rooms.
draws a crowd
With that much supply, there have to be a lot
of cheap alternatives for places to stay, right? I checked with the desk clerk at
the 'Best Western Mardi Gras' in Las Vegas and she told me they have plenty of their
314 rooms available for only $95 per night. If everybody wants cheap, why don't
those sell out rooms first? The reality is that the overwhelming majority of visitors
are willing to pay extra to stay at premier properties like the Bellagio and the
The same thing goes for entertainment
in Las Vegas. You can easily get a last-minute seat for a low-cost, even free, show
that would be a big act back home. But try buying a $110 ticket (that's $220 a couple,
enough to buy a nice pair of glasses in most practices) for Celine Dion, Danny Gans
or Cirque du Soleil. They sell out months in advance. That's because middle and
upper income consumers don't want the best deal, they want something special.
Another surprising development in Las
Vegas: Business is so good in these high-quality venues, revenues from non-gaming
sources such as fancy hotels, expensive restaurants and big name entertainers now
exceed gambling income. The executives running these mega resorts have discovered
our point: class outweighs cost.
Here's the catch
Even though they have a lot of disposable income,
consumers at the middle and upper end of the market are quite discerning, which
means they aren't going to pay $459 a night to stay at the Best Western. They want
something nice. They want the Bellagio. As I mentioned above, if you want to attract
this crowd, you must have a reasonably good location, a nicely decorated office
and an efficient, well-trained staff. Just be sure to charge the proper fees.
THE FOUNDER OF
THE HAYES CENTER FOR PRACTICE EXCELLENCE AT
SOUTHERN COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRY IN MEMPHIS, DR. HAYES
IS A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR TO OM. E-MAIL HIM AT