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Many people who choose to eat at upscale restaurants consider themselves gourmets who enjoy showing off their knowledge of fine food by ordering dishes using correct French pronunciation or by knowing the difference between flambe and flame-broiled. To have the meal pre-ordered takes away the excitement of interacting with fellow foodies or people who enjoy such dining experiences. In addition, no online reservation service can routinely offer diners with table selection or other fastidious details that a live hostess or waiter can.
However, this service could appeal to event planners and people who are responsible for organizing and arranging meals for large amounts of people. By allowing people to order online, conference and other large event planners may be able to provide more flexibility in the menu offerings and hasten the ordering process by having drink, appetizer, entree and dessert choices in hand instead of having to collect even pre-ordered orders once again.
Expanding the market
Another option for this kind of service is to use it as an advertising vehicle for tourist sites and chamber of commerce web site. The site could then expand its offerings to less upscale restaurants, but serve more as an online advertising vehicle than as a service vehicle. An online service that is already used in this manner is online service information for families who are visiting different places. Offering a link to this web site on chamber of commerce web sites and tourist advertising web sites. Families visiting in new places can use this service to make reservations at a restaurant and preview the menus and make orders before going to the restaurant. In this way, parents bringing their children to family restaurants could pre-order their dinner so that they do not have to wait a long time for their meal at the restaurant. In this way, families can still enjoy a meal out without having to contend with entertaining their children while waiting for a waitress to arrive to take orders and then wait again for the food to arrive. Such extended waits for families with young children is a significant deterrent for families to eat out.
The idea for this business is feasible for a number of reasons. First of all, the technology to execute such a business has already been developed and with just a little work it can be integrated onto one network. Several web sites already provide table reservations services online and allow the ability to order food to be delivered or picked up. The start up costs are minimal, most efforts should be directed toward finding feasible markets for the product, examining current offerings and exploring ways to tweak the online or ordering aspect of the business to make it competitive in both the online reservation and the online food ordering market. The business would also appeal to restaurants as the advance alerts to the restaurants would allow them to plan for ordering supplies more accurately and plan better for staffing. Knowing that such a service would enable them to save money, plan more efficiently and increase their image by providing advertising in advantageous places.
Such a business at this moment may not seem like a slam-dunk success as there are dominant players in the online restaurant reservation business and the online food ordering business has not taken off in the way that had been hoped. The primary users of such a service, people between the ages of 30-54, are less inclined to use the internet for uses other than shopping and information than younger, more tech-savvy teens and young adults. In addition, the current technology will undergo improvements as users give them input for possible improvements.
Implications of Research
The research indicates that the market for online is doing well with two significant players doing well. The market for online food ordering appears to be less successful as people still prefer to order food online with a phone. There are many factors that would lead to the success of this business. There is technology that is already developed, a maturing population that is increasingly tech savvy. It appears that with tweaks to the technology and improvements that would allow more flexibility for patrons, it would be more popular.
As today's teens graduate from college and enter the working world, they will bring their tech-savvy sensibilities to every aspect of their lives, including eating out. Younger consumers, already used to turning to the Internet for a variety of purposes, from entertainment to communication and socializing, will feel less squeamish toward using the Internet to reserve a nice table and order a good meal.
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