With free Wi-Fi being offered by major chains such as Starbucks and Second Cup, the majority of people in cafes are armed with laptops and a willingness to hang out for a long time.
For cafe owners, it’s a mixed blessing because free Wi-Fi draws customers but these customers also take up valuable real estate because they stay a long time without consuming a lot of product – at least product that costs money.
So it was interesting to stumble upon Snakes & Lattes in downtown Toronto, which does not offer free Wi-Fi or, for that matter, Wi-Fi at all. Instead, S&L has more than 1,500 board games that people can play for $5/table. It means that instead of staring into the digital abyss, people are playing a game and interacting with each other.
In this day and age, this is a pretty awesome (and old school) thing that S&L is trying to encourage. It’s also pretty fantastic marketing given it must be difficult for cafes to differentiate themselves now that everyone is offering free Wi-Fi to lure Internet users.
Here’s hoping that games rather than data will give S&L the competitive edge it needs to survive a crowded marketplace.