Is it a good PR move to allow non-customers to use washrooms?

Image by mattsaxey via Flickr

Is it a good PR move to allow non-customers to use washrooms?

Here is the scenario:

Occasionally, I pay a visit to my local comic book store. It’s in a local strip mall and the local bowling alley has the only washroom.

For months, I visited their washroom before visiting the comic book store. Recently I paid a washroom visit during low tide (i.e. there were few customers in the place). I was dressed in business casual, while a red-headed, middle-aged man waited on customers.

So I walk by this man and turn the corner. He is waiting on another middle-aged man and his kids. As I round the corner, I can hear him remark: “Washrooms are for bowling customers only.”

So he’s looking at the customer but talking to me? Clearly I wasn’t in his line of vision. But it raises many interesting PR standpoint questions.

  • The bathroom (i.e. both men and women) have many stalls available. Not much is distracting from regular customers – unlike those for small mom and pop store, etc.
  • How does the attendant know that I haven’t been a previous customer? If so, does that mean I need to bowl every time I use the washroom?
  • A bowling alley usually has several components that make money. In this particular example, there is a store that sells bowling equipment. There is a full service food restaurant. One also finds a full service bar there. That’s as well as providing bowling for all interested parties. Since the bowling attendant has much to entice me, can’t he see the value of a free washroom visit?
English: Slot machines (las vegas)
Image via Wikipedia

An example from Vegas casinos

I haven’t been to a Vegas casino. Nor have I gambled in an Illinois casino. But I have talked to people who visited Las Vegas casinos. The closest I’ve come to casinos is playing the Publishers Clearing House PCHSLOTS.

But I do know enticements – to play the slot machines.

Why do you think that casinos place slot machines in food areas? These are food areas with free buffets and reduced price drinks (or even free). Why do you think that is? It’s so you will play the slot machines as you sample the buffet or drink a refreshing alcoholic beverage.

Perhaps this bowling alley operator or owner needs to take an example from Las Vegas. Perhaps as I walk to and from the washroom, I might be enticed to:

  • Have a refreshing alcoholic beverage.
  • Play a bowling game.
  • Have some food.
  • Buy some bowling equipment.

Perhaps this guy will get so progressive as to put video games in each toilet stall. For a small fee, you can play a video game, connect to the Internet, check your email, etc. I hope you realize I’m just having a bit of fun – don’t take me seriously.

Back to basics

Now let’s get back to basics – the original question. Is it a good PR move to allow non-customers to use washrooms? What do you think?




1 thought on “Is it a good PR move to allow non-customers to use washrooms?

  1. I know you have focused on positive PR but what about the negative PR this “rule” brings with it. Recently we went to a local parade and they small coffee shop, with only a one person bathroom, had people lining up completing interfering with the customer experience but nothing was ever mentioned to the “guests” waiting in line. Morally its rude and I do not want to do business with rude establishments, so they would certainly lose any chance of enticing me after an episode like this.

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