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Kiwi online marketing tool First Table smashes expectations

Kiwi online marketing tool First Table smashes growth expectations in 12 months

An online start-up business that acts as a marketing platform for restaurants has exceeded expectations in the first year of operating.

First Table – which offers customers early bird dining deals at participating eateries – has signed up 120 restaurants throughout New Zealand since launching on September 20 last year.

Starting out in Queenstown, the concept has been picked up by restaurants in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo, Hamilton, Manawatu, Nelson and Dunedin.

It’s also been well-received across the Tasman, with Sydney restaurants joining in and Australia’s Gold Coast eateries expected to follow shortly. First Table’s Australian website went live at the weekend, launching in Sydney’s Manly.

First Table is the brainchild of Queenstown tech entrepreneur Mat Weir. He had hoped to get 100 restaurants on board within the first 12 months and is blown away by how successful it’s been so far.

“The vision is for First Table to be a key marketing platform used by restaurants across the world,” Weir explains.

“Restaurants are able to leverage quiet times of the night to their marketing benefit. Diners are using First Table to try out new restaurants. Restaurants are ensuring that their First Table diners are treated to an amazing experience and the customers are then coming back at later times and happily paying full price.”

Diners search for participating restaurants in their town or city of choice. To secure the booking, they pay the website $10 and then dine at the restaurant for 50% less than the actual dinner menu price. The deal covers up to four diners and does not include discount on drinks.

The idea for First Table was sparked when Weir noticed a rise in restaurants offering early bird specials.

“I saw an opportunity to offer those specials on a scale that only the web can offer, and in a way that provides marketing benefits to restaurants and incentives, savings and new experiences to customers.”

Since starting out, 85,000 people have visited the website and 10,000 people have signed up.

Weir has also employed one business development manager in Auckland, one in Wellington, two in Sydney and one account manager in Queenstown. He is also looking at raising capital overseas and taking the venture to the United States.

Takapuna restaurant The Commons has embraced First Table and is thrilled with the results, functions manager Deahla Stockman says.

“First Table has helped to open our doors to customers that might not have thought there was classic European food available in the North Shore. Through the deals provided by First Table, guests feel more relaxed to explore our menu and try dishes they wouldn't normally eat. From this, we have seen an influx in repeat diners who want to bring their friends and family in to discover the same quality experience they had at The Commons. We are excited to see guests enjoying the quality experience we strive to provide and look forward to continuing our association with First Table.”

Popular Queenstown restaurant The Jervois Steakhouse jumped at the chance to sign up to First Table in February and hasn’t looked back, general manager Hayden Davison says.

“It has definitely been a great marketing tool for us. It’s a brilliant way for our local market to try us for a nice dinner out without breaking the bank,” Davison says.

“Early dining is always a quiet time of night in Queenstown so it’s great being able to create some real atmosphere in the restaurant at an early stage of the evening. It’s also a great opportunity for our staff to show the First Table diners what we do here and add a personal touch to their experience. We get a lot of return customers as a result.”


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