Ankit Mehrotra.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Aug 26 : As the battle between online food aggregators and restaurants turns serious with more than 2,500 restaurants now logged out against the deep discounting practices of online food apps across the country, Dineout is concerned that the feud has led to confusion about the discounts among consumers who will be the worst-hit.

In an interview with IANS, Ankit Mehrotra, Founder and CEO, Dineout said they want an early resolution to serve their customers better.

"We all want early resolution as customers are the worst-hit. They don't have any clarity about the discounts and are receiving poor experiences at the restaurants. We want the restaurants to #loginback again and all of us should move ahead with an agreement in place," Mehrotra emphasized.

According to him, the real challenge happens when one platform gets a higher discount for their customers and then, the others go back to the restaurants to demand the same discount.

"It then becomes a race to the bottom. So from our perspective, we just want things to return back to normal with uniformity around discounts," Mehrotra told IANS.

Founded in 2012, Dineout is one of the largest platforms in the country, seating more than 3 million diners on a monthly basis and working with more than 15,000 restaurant partners across 17 cities.

The food aggregator is looking to build a more sustainable and viable eco-system for both its restaurant partners and users using the Dineout platform.

"We actually don't have an issue as such with the restaurants that have gone offline as they are still accepting reservations from us without a discount. Our only request is to clarify the stand on discounts and to make it uniform for all aggregators," said Mehrotra.

"The main challenge is with deep discounts which, anyways, we do not take part in," he informed.

Mehrotra said they are happy to have come to a positive consensus with the NRAI and support their restaurant partners.

"We have offered to extend our loyalty management module of our B2B platform -- "inResto" -- at zero cost to our restaurant partners in order to further our mission of making every restaurant in the country to be tech-enabled," he said.

Over and beyond, Dineout's premium offering of "Gourmet Passport" limits the redemptions to only three coupons per restaurant compared to unlimited redemptions on other platforms like Zomato Gold which offers 1+1 on food or 2+2 on drinks daily, 365 days in the year which has led to the turmoil in the industry.

"In consultation with the restaurants, we run promotional campaigns for shorter durations ( and not through the year) such as the 'Great Indian Restaurant Festival' which gives a higher discount to the consumer but for only limited covers per restaurant per day," said the Dineout founder.

The festival as a concept was pioneered by Dineout in 2017 to five a boost to the industry.

According to him, their key demand is to stop deep discounts, which are unlimited in nature as they permanently devalue the product in the consumers' mind.

"From Day 1, the Dineout platform has been designed to enable restaurants to provide discounts which are completely customizable depending upon the days of the week and the time of the day," he noted.

Each restaurant is free to decide its own discount and we don't enforce a common unlimited discount strategy, said Mehrotra, adding that they want restaurants to enforce uniformity which levels the playing field for all aggregators.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at nishant.a@ians.in)

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