As new fangled cuisines make their way; celebrity chefs open restaurants or chain of restaurants, PE/VC run after them with funds, would a ‘Technology disrupting App’ funded or looking for funds left behind?
And suddenly there are half dozen of them floating around. I have looked at trying the well known four of them:
Eazy Diner – Launched by Vir Sanghavi and team, which depends on crowd sourced reviews, recommendations, offers 10-25% discount on restaurants. BUT mostly chain or 5 star where most of the times walk in or just a call can get you in; and the same/similar discount is available on multitude of cards – credit, loyalty, debit what have you.
DishCo – More like Burrrp and Zomato in a different avataar, again dependent on crowd sourcing votes; but yet to initiate Table reservations model.
Dine Out – From the Times of India Internet stable, which I thought would have a lot of synergies and could capture the market, provide competition to Zomato. But the listing of where you could reserve and get a discount is just ordinary restaurants. Their search and find, recommend location has always let me down. (example of Svenska which did not pop up) And in spite of constant feedback there has actually been no relevant change as far as I’m concerned. In fact somebody had called up, wanting to understand this better a month of so ago.
They have recently launched Dineout Plus where you pay Rs. 5000/- and get a card, which entitles you to 25% off on your meals at top restaurants in 5 star hotels for 12 months (The Orchid, Svenska, Royal Orchid central, Ramada plaza are examples shown)
Given an average of Rs 1750/- per person (excluding taxes) a couple would need to do 6 visits in the same city to recover Rs. 5000/- Given the options outside, with lesser prices and taxes, do not know how many would actually renew. Remember there are many more already around. Read here
Zomato – The big daddy of them all, recently introduced the service and it is this that I saw had some additions that would be of use to me. However, the first use showed me that, this is still in the nascent stage and unless, there is a clear investment, communication which is common for the consumer, it is not likely to work.
On all four, I felt the following:
- An attempt to crowd source the main aspects – review, recommend.
- Try to use the low lying fruit – restaurants, cafe, bars that are desperate/need footfalls and willing to play ball with discounts, offers.
- There does not seem to be an offer differentiator, just the same 10-25%
- Restaurants that are doing well by them selves do not wish to play ball; because they do not see the value this will bring to them – similar to food tech delivery companies.
- Deal seekers flit from one app to another; one card to another; one reference to another.
- Those who consistently visit the same places, know the staff and can get direct bookings, maybe even discounts, so why bother.
- Then there are those who look at an experience at a new place, would be open to use the app provided there is a guarantee of the booking.
So, what exactly are these table reservation services providing, value addition to? The restaurants? consumers?
I checked with a few 40-60 age group, many not on social media, most CXO level, who entertain at least twice a week, who had not even heard of these, and use their assistants or phone number directly to reserve a table.
My pitch to them:
- Would you download an App paying Rs 100
- Would you pay for reservation or table cost (High roller method of fine dine, casinos, hotels, airlines)
- Would they like places to be recommended to them based on data provided whilst registering?
80% said Yes. They were willing to pay for convenience, ego massage, avoiding the bill tussle, able to try out places.
What is in it for the Restaurants? All of the above and much more!
Now, if only somebody wants to take the difficult, but longer retention path.