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Pros & Cons: Free mineral water for all guests?

Free Water Article
Service – or a revenue killer? 
Free mineral water for guests in outdoor areas is a hotly debated issue and has its positive and negative sides. Find out how offering free mineral water could work for you. 

PRO! The best reasons for offering free mineral water:

Strengthening your image

Anyone offering guests free mineral water at their tables shows generosity. You can do it at your first contact with guests at the table. This speaks for the style of your establishment. Alternatively, you can serve it on request. This signals that you are prepared to respond quickly to the wishes of your guests without complications. It also shows that you are a caring host and increases the wellbeing of your guests from the first moment.

  • Image
  • Service philosophy
  • Anticipatory service
  • Feel-good factor

Involve your service staff

For your service staff, serving free mineral water immediately establishes a relationship to their guests. Now, if orders take a while to appear, your guests at least have a refreshing extra on the table with which to pass the time. They feel welcome and appreciated from the start. This, in turn, increases order frequency. Serving water as an accompaniment to classic beverages and drinks such as coffee, spirits, or liqueurs without being asked adds to the pleasurable experience. 

  • Increased order frequency
  • Positive guest relations
  • Satisfaction
  • Competence

CON! Reasons for not offering free mineral water:

Loss of revenue

In the catering segment, the revenue share brought by mineral water sales may be as much as 8 per cent. If you work with tight margins on drinks, this is a factor that cannot be ignored. Premium mineral waters bring high profit margins even though there is, of course, a physical limit to the amounts actually consumed. Guests will also tend to order their favourite brands of mineral water and are prepared to pay more for them.

  • Loss of revenue
  • Lower profit margin
  • Additional sales
  • Brand awareness

You weaken your market positioning

If your guests expect branded mineral waters as an expression of quality in line with your positioning on the market, inexpensive table waters may be seen as inappropriately cheap alternatives. It may also happen that certain guests will miss the advice of a water sommelier as a part of the fine dining experience. In addition to this, premium waters with precise descriptions and origins on your menu are a persuasive argument for premium pricing structures. 

  • Image loss
  • Service quality
  • Experience potentials
  • Pricing control

You unnecessarily limit the range you offer

Non-alcoholic beverages are a cresting trend. Of these beverages, mineral water is regarded as one of healthiest. It has the enormous advantage that it can be served not only alone for refreshment but also as an accompaniment to food. This means that you can offer an extensive range of regional mineral waters with low capital commitment. 

  • Health trends
  • Versatility
  • Diversity
  • Demand

Bottom line

For you as a restaurant owner, the decisive factor is the particular market positioning that sets you apart from your competitors. In this, the question of free mineral water can  be decided by your consideration of many factors: the size of your business, staffing structures, and, of course, your guests. After all, you are the one who knows them best.

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