Saturday, December 12, 2009

Price resistance

I think I'm going to pass on tonight's Christmas Party for the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.
Feeling a bit pooped after a more-than-usually gruelling week.  Ill, too.  And it seems as though none of my friends are going, either.  I realise, in fact, that I'm not that well connected in that crowd any more - there was a big rotation of personnel after the Olympics, and the journos I knew best have all now left.  I suppose I should be starting over and making new contacts... but I just haven't got the energy at the moment.
Mostly, though, I'm put off by the price tag.  I suspect others of my more impecunious friends will have been as well.  In fact, anyone who cares about value-for-money is likely to be given pause.
200 kuai??  (250, if you're not up-to-date with your subscription.)
That's a big chunk of change.
And for what?  If it were a completely open bar and food were laid on, it would be an appealing deal.  (They had a summer party a year or two ago on the roof deck at Obi-Wan, where there was a completely open bar and a decent buffet barbecue for several hours.... for 100 or 150 kuai, I think.  Good times!)  But this time, it seems, only beer and house wine are on the open bar - no spirits or mixed drinks at all.  Tsingtaos and house wine are pretty cheap at The Bookworm anyway; and usually they offer a small additional discount (on mixed drinks too!) for FCCC events.  At the Worm's own 'murder mystery' panto last month, there was a completely open bar for a couple of hours (well, not the top shelf, of course; but I wound a few regular blended whiskies into me) for only 80 kuai.
On this occasion, it seems, we are being asked to pay merely for exclusive use of The Bookworm.  And I'm afraid that just ain't worth it.
Most open bar or all-you-can-drink deals around Beijing (or, as the Chinglish often has it, 'Open Mouth' deals!) these days are in the 80-100 kuai range; some are as little as 50 kuai.  If things get much more expensive than that, you do start asking yourself if it's going to give value.
I very seldom spend more than 200 kuai in one night.  Not unless I'm drinking spirits or cocktails, anyway.  Given that a stubbie of Tsingtao is usually only 15 kuai (and would probably be reduced to 10 or 12 for an event like this), I'm thinking I'd have to drink something like 20 bottles of that fizzy crap to "make a profit".  Could I do that?  Well, maybe - but it would be a stretch.  And I'm not sure I'd want to try.
No, I'd inevitably feel the need to mix my drinking up with a few whiskies or G&Ts, which I'd apparently have to pay extra for.  And no food either??  So, add in dinner beforehand.  And a taxi home.  That's going to be a 400 or 500 kuai night out.  Er, NO, thank you.
A properly open bar (and maybe a little bit of free finger food) would make all the difference here; if I could chug a Jameson's or two each hour, I'd be a happy camper.  (And The Worm wouldn't lose money: a bottle only costs a little over 100rmb; less, if you've got a good wholesale deal.  And I'm not going to get through more than half a bottle, even if I'm really going for it!)
I can't help feeling that The Bookworm is being a little bit greedy here.  Saturdays are usually a bit of a dead night for them.  And I'm sure their average punter spends much less than 200 kuai per visit, even if they order food.
Or maybe they're afraid of the notorious thirst of journalists??
That may be the case; but if so, I think they've exaggerated, miscalculated that risk.  I mean, for that sort of money (wholesale cost) you could provide 2 bottles of whiskey OR 2 or 3 (or maybe even 4) bottles of semi-decent wine OR 3 or 4 bottles of gin or vodka OR 4 barrels of cheap local beer.
Not even a journalist can drink that much.

1 comment:

Froog said...

Rahter gallingly, some friends who did attend have suggested - though their recollection of the matter is imperfect - that in fact some spirits and mixed drinks were included in the open bar.

If so, it was a serious error to omit to mention this on the flyer!

Apparently, it was rather a good evening.

But I think I got in more fun - and more liver damage - for less money elsewhere.