Saving Seats for Strategic Customers

Operations Research, 61 (6), 2013

26 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2015

Date Written: August 16, 2013


We consider a service provider in a market with two segments. Members of the first request a reservation ahead of service and will not patronize the firm without one. Members of the second walk in and demand service immediately. These customers have a fixed cost of reaching the firm and may behave strategically. In equilibrium, they randomize between walking in and staying home. The service provider must decide how much of a limited capacity to make available to advance customers. When the advance demand segment offers a higher per customer margin, the firm may opt to decline some reservation requests in order to bolster walk-in demand. When walk-in customers are more valuable, we have a variation of Littlewood (1972). Where Littlewood would always save some capacity for valuable late arrivals, here it is possible that the optimal policy saves no capacity for walk-ins. Thus, it may be better to ignore rather than pamper walk-in customers. This outcome is robust to changes in the model.

Keywords: Revenue management, service management, reservations.

Suggested Citation

Cil, Eren and Lariviere, Martin, Saving Seats for Strategic Customers (August 16, 2013). Operations Research, 61 (6), 2013. Available at SSRN:

Eren Cil (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - Department of Decision Sciences ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

Martin Lariviere

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States


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