There is a great little coffee/sandwich shop in the heart of Lakeview (New Orleans) called Nola Beans.
When Nola Beans first opened I made a special attempt to frequent it because it was started by a bunch of friends of mine and I wanted to do what I could to help make them a success. But then a funny thing happened... I discovered their Egg Salad sandwich. It is fantastic. Better than fantastic, it might be the best I've ever had. And yes, I'm a big fan of the egg salad. But that isn't the point of this post.
The point is: that sandwich and the wonderful atmosphere of Nola Beans has made the shop a destination for me. There are a good number of great sandwich shops or coffee houses between my house and Nola Beans but yet I pass them up to go to Nola Beans. Why? Because I crave that sandwich. BTW - if you're ever in NOLA, their chicken salad is the bomb too.
If I'm craving Lebanese Tea, I head over to Mona's and if I want a stiff drink, I hit New City Grille. In each case, these establishments have gone from "convenient" to "destination" in my mind. I pass up their competition to get to them. In fact there is a bar I can walk to from my house that I bypass in favor of New City. Drinks are cheaper but not as good and it's smoke filled. But man, is it convenient. So don't be fooled.. it isn't because these establishments are the cheapest or most convenient that make me frequent them. Hell the price of a drink at New City is as stiff as the drink itself. But I know that for my money I'll get a great drink, in a nice smokeless atmosphere. So in my mind, New City Grille has become my destination of choice when I'm looking for a good drink with no smoke.
Which brings me to the point of this post: Being a destination is important. It gives you a point of difference but more importantly it gives you a marketing angle that isn't price or location dependent -- the hallmarks of commodity establishment advertising. Destinations give consumers a reason to form a relationship with them and more importantly something to talk about with their friends. Kind of like I'm doing with you right now.
So what are you? Why do your customers frequent you? Is it because you're a destination or because your just convenient?