Come Thursday, and the missus and I start looking out for restaurant deals for the weekend. We used to look up sites like Snapdeal, MyDala, Crazeal, and the numerous other deal sites that feature restaurant deals, if at all, before we found GroupTable, is a one-stop-shop for people like us, that provides the best restaurant deals.
GroupTable is one of a kind, fine dining platform that provides connoisseurs of good food with unique value propositions at the best of fine dining restaurants in Bangalore. The model works on 25-30% discount on the regular menu prices, and 20% off on buffet prices. Apart from restaurants, you can also book banquets for parties at discounted prices. There is a quick search for a restaurant in the locality you want to dine.
“We negotiate with restaurants, on behalf of our member-diners, and get them to structure & feature exclusive restaurant deals on GroupTable platform. Restaurants & hotels are more than happy to lower their pricing if they are assured of numbers.”, says Mohan Rao, co-founder Group Table.
When asked about how different is GroupTable from a daily deal website, Rao replies: “Very different. Our model is based on solid economic logic—involving value addition both to restaurants and to diners. Daily Deal model, we must say,is based mostly on hype, and more often than not, based on inflated presentation of discounts! We have even heard of ‘manufactured menu cards’— that are displayed along with the deal for inflating ‘original price’ in support of supposed deep discounts!”
The reservations can be made directly at the GroupTable site and you need not call the restaurant that you would have done otherwise. You do not need a printed coupon from Group Table, a mobile passcode usually works in most restaurants. There is a small or no upfront payment to be made while booking, depending on the restaurant. Another major advantage of Group Table over its distant cousins is that you get a discount on the entire bill, and not only on a certain amount (Pay Rs 150 to get Rs 300), as in deals from other sites. Also, unlike a daily deal coupon, you can cancel your deal four hours prior to the reservation and get the amount credited back in your account.
I remember the first time I got an sms from GroupTable, and I was excited to try it out. GroupTable had welcomed me with a sleek, clutter-free UI, offering deals for ‘fine dining at affordable prices’. However, I was in for a surprise when I went in to register and was told both my number and email were already taken!
Since I use the same password across all such sites, I was quickly able to get in, but it took me a while to decipher that Group Table is the same as GroupOff.in, the company that had started off as Group Off and had later bought the Groupon.in domain (last January), which prevented the original Groupon to launch Groupon.in for their Indian operations.
So Group Off became Group On (They used the tipping point as the turning of the Group from ‘off’ to ‘on’), but perhaps the company couldn’t compete with the other biggies in the Indian market, planting the seed for a niche deal site for restaurants. This is where most of the other daily deal sites started with, but later digressed to provide deals in all possible areas, most turning into partial e-commerce sites with discounts on. And now Group On has given way to Group Table.
The domains groupoff.com, groupoff.in.in, groupon.in, grouptable.in, and grouptables.in, are all owned by the same people, and barring groupon.in, all redirect to Group Table. Groupon.in also redirected to grouptable.in till about a month ago, but now it gives you a 404. GroupTables.in still says “Group On to get Group Off” in its title bar, the original caption of GroupOff. We asked the founding members last week about the transition from GroupOff to GroupTable, and still holding the goupon.in domain, but they haven’t responded yet.
The concept is no doubt good, and provides a win-win situation for both restaurateurs and diners. No matter what, people will always go out to eat. Cashing in on that aspect while also saving customers a few bucks has a huge potential. The business will flourish, but what would be interesting to seen is which way would the rechristening of Group On to Group Table head? And is the Daddy of all deal sites trying to negotiate on getting the groupon.in domain back?
The next time you plan to eat out, you may want to give GroupTable a spin and share your comment.