Sunday, December 06, 2009

Has anyone done a paper on network effects and restaurant ordering?

Some years ago, I was awaiting a flight from LA to Washington (I think). It was winter, and so the flight was delayed, so I went to the bar to have a drink. I ordered a Ketel One Dirty Martini; after I did so, the man two stools down from me said, "that sounds good," and ordered one, and then a women across the bar also said, "that sounds good," and ordered one, and so on, until 5 or six people at the bar had Ketel One Dirty Martinis in front of them.

I thought about this while in a restaurant last night, when one order of gumbo seemed to lead to a cascade of gumbo orders around the room. So I would like to know whether these were isolated incidents, or whether one order generally influences the surrounding orders. In the case of married couples (or significant others) who like to share, one order might have a negative influence on the probability of a similar order. When the boss is buying lunch, perhaps her order places a ceiling on the price of other orders.

Anyway, it seems like there is a paper in this, but until I finish the half-dozen papers that are currently between 10 percent and 80 percent done, I am not working on it.

4 comments:

Morgan Price said...

Dan Airely talks about how your order affects your friends' order in "Predictably Irrational." E.g. see "Sequential Choice in Group Settings: Taking the Road Less Traveled and Less Enjoyed"

Stanley Webber said...

This post struck me as funny. As if you were shilling for Ketel One. (A Dutch Vodka manufacturer???)

You've probably already seen this making the rounds:

http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/2009-gosline.php

This also relates to the Balloon Boy incident and the recent DARPA/MIT/Mobclix/ETH project

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/dec/07/darpa-challenge

OGT said...

Morgan Price beat me to it. The chapter involves an experiment in beer ordering in a North Carolina brew pub. People who knew what their fellows were ordering ordered more varieties of beer from the menu, and enjoyed their beer less.

Perhaps mixed drinks change the equation. Or the number of choices? Still a paper in there if you want it.

Richard K. Green said...

Stanley, I wish I could shill for Ketel One--that would mean they would pay me to drink their Vodka! Alas, not.