An online restaurant booking platform that is part of the Catch Group has partnered with controversial ride-sharing service Uber in order to improve its customer experience and gain a point of difference in a competitive market.
Yumtable is an iPhone app and website that allows people to instantly book a table at a restaurant without having to call a restaurant or fill out a lengthy form on a business’s website.
The startup was launched in September last year by the company behind Catch of the Day and Scoopon, hoping to snap up a chunk of the restaurant booking market in the same way sister business Eatnow has gained a foothold in the takeaway space.
With the support of the Catch Group, Yumtable has hit 20,000 downloads on the App Store and has partnerships with more than 2000 restaurants in Australia.
Yumtable has now scored a partnership with $48 billion startup Uber so that its users can get to and from restaurants without having to stress about parking or waiting for public transport. The Yumtable and Uber apps will be integrated, meaning when a Yumtable user makes a booking they will have the choice to book an Uber trip with the click of a button.
From May, the companies will also run #UberDINING every Friday, with selected users winning the “ultimate dining experience” of a private Uber trip to a surprise restaurant destination, dinner for two and a ride home.
It’s the latest promotion from Uber in Australia, after the startup delivered kittens to workplaces in February and previously delivered ice cream to businesses through a promotion with Gelato Messina.
Yumtable general manager Levi Aron told SmartCompany while not everyone will be happy about the partnership given the controversy surrounding the safety of Uber’s illegal ridesharing service UberX, he says the partnership made sense because the two companies have similar customers.
“Their demographic is young people and young people going out at night and whose social lives are quite active,” Aron says.
“We looked at this partnership quite carefully and had lots of conversations with Uber. In those conversations they reassured us they are not going to be disappearing any time soon and quite forward-thinking. We understand there will be some out there who won’t be so happy with this partnership and we hope this will change as Uber becomes more popular in Australia.”
Aron told SmartCompany Yumtable is seeing week-on-week growth of 15-20% and a customer return rate of around 20%.
“Our aim is to have the most restaurants online that people can book in Australia,” he says.
“When making a booking with a restaurant we’re used to calling phones and leaving messages or filling out forms online and waiting to hear back. But our lifestyles have changes – we’re getting busier and expecting things to happen now. We’ve trained consumers and ourselves to think that things should be done instantly.”
As part of its agreement with restaurants, Yumtable has a set number of seats set aside for customers using its booking platform. That way, users get an instant booking confirmation instead of waiting to hear back from the restaurant.
“There’s a boom in the restaurant industry in terms of how many restaurants are opening,” Aron says.
“We have cuisines from all over the world and restaurants opening up in all different styles, which is great for the consumer. But the thing with so many restaurants is that there’s fierce competition. They might only be 50 or 70% full – but those empty seats are costing them money.”
Aron says the key to scoring partnerships with bricks-and-mortar stores when you are an online platform is to listen to the businesses and figure out how you can improve what they’re already doing – particularly in areas such as marketing.
“We went out there with quite a strong pitch and looked at the kind of restaurants we wanted to get on Yumtable,” he says.
“We looked at their current marketing and capacity and sat down with them and found out what they’re currently doing with marketing to get their now out there.”