There's been a lot of discussion lately about the value of couponing for restaurants. This week's NYT dining section dug into Groupon and the "social-coupon gold rush" phenomenon, what with all the deal wheeling that seems to be coming from all angles.
Just in time, it seems, Dave Ostlund (the brains behind those addictive TCFoodFinds quizzes on Twitter and companies such as Deal Stork) has launched ReservePerks.com. Although it's in beta testing right now, it's making a play against both Groupon and OpenTable.
Here's how it works: You sign up as a member for free. You make a reservation at a restaurant (right now there's a free trial, eventually it will cost you $10 to make a reservation). Your reservation will automatically earn you a 30% discount on the entire bill. There are no coupons, the discount will be applied automatically and discreetly to the total bill.
How does this benefit you? Hello, go out with a party of six (read: my family) and pay $10 for a reservation for 30 percent off the total bill? And no coupons to lose in your purse or forget in the car? OK.
How does it benefit the restaurant? The specific reservation times and dates will be offered by the restaurant, so while you might not be able to get a table during peak hours, you will be getting a discount for eating during off-peak times. The fact that the restaurant can also control the number of offered times, means that it's less likely the places will be slammed with discounters (which can produce longer waits, poor service, lack of menu choices).
Right now there are five eateries available during beta but Ostlund says that after testing, he has 30-40 restaurants on board for the official launch. Phase 2 will include golf courses, hotels, and salons.
What do you think? Is this the way to take down the juggernaut OpenTable (which charges restaurants $1/reservation)? Is this a tool you'd use exclusively or as a compliment to your OT/Groupon ways?