Original Source: Vulcan Post

DiineOut was established in January 2018 as an online platform where anyone can buy tickets for F&B events.

It’s a platform that benefits both the food lovers who attend the events and the restaurateurs.

Behind its establishment are Lionel Lau, Managing Director, and his co-founder Michael Kwan, a web development expert who built the platform and currently maintains it.

Fire in the belly

As an avid food enthusiast, Lionel loves exploring F&B events himself.

Over the years, he’s found inefficiencies when it came to remembering the contacts of restaurants for bookings.

There was also the fact that you had to do self-research across different platforms to find F&B events that interested you.

Furthermore, most of these dining events conducted payment at the end, causing outlet managers to scramble for collection and for customers to get frustrated over the wait in line.

So, “I had a thought,” Lionel told us, “With the advanced level of technology we have these days, we can buy literally anything online.”

“Why not F&B events?”

He then did his research on whether such platforms existed and found only reservation booking sites but no event ticketing sites.

“That’s when it dawned on me—DiineOut would be the ultimate platform that will benefit both food lovers like me and the restaurateurs.”

“This will also help F&B outlets eliminate no-shows and last-minute cancellations for these kinds of events.”

Browsing the market

Restaurants aren’t new to F&B events. However, they tend to use rather outdated approaches to marketing such as distributing flyers and at best, sharing digital versions on social media.

In addition, “the process of waiting for the restaurant is antiquated, to say the least, and at worst time-consuming and a real hassle,” shared Lionel.

Thus he believes that DiineOut can be a good starting point for restaurants to innovate and tap into at least 10% of the market of modern diners effectively.

“As Malaysians become increasingly affluent and educated, there’s a demand for unique dining experiences from F&B outlets as opposed to routine meals,” Lionel said of the market behaviour.

“At these dining experiences, we also get to meet like-minded people who share a common interest in food with us.”

“Most importantly, they give us good insight on what the restaurants are capable of in terms of creativity, culinary techniques and skills in handling the ingredients they use.”

Variety is the spice of life

Getting a seat at a desired F&B event doesn’t come any easier than clicking the button that says “Buy Ticket”, selecting the number of tickets and choosing a preferred payment method.

With DiineOut’s extensive network of over 100 partners and their record of featuring more than 200 F&B events, you’re sure to find one of personal interest.

No matter the type of F&B event or the scale of it, DiineOut lists them on its platform.

“We have listed events priced as low as RM20 per pax for a rice cake decorating workshop to RM1,000 per seat for a 5-star hotel dining event,” said Lionel.

Coming back for round 2

About 5,000 users are registered on DiineOut’s site and over 50% of them are returning users who come back to discover what’s new on the platform.

To enhance customer experience, DiineOut has now embedded a filter on their site which categorises events under different audience interests such as special lunches, dinners, tastings and pairings, workshops and masterclasses, and even nightlife.

“We realised that the more events we have on DiineOut, the higher the number of visitors—whether they are our regular or new users,” Lionel said.

The team isn’t just monitoring their statistics, they’re aware of their demographic, too.

“Since our inception in January 2018 till May 2019, 82% or more of the platform’s traffic comes from our users’ mobile phones,” revealed Lionel.

“Mobile is the way of our future, and it’s all about the speed of the Internet and our mobile. More than 90% of the purchases [on our platform] are done via mobile.”

It’s not peaches and cream

The most challenging thing DiineOut faced was convincing F&B players to adopt their platform.

It took the team over 6 months to convince them that the platform would work.

They spoke to various F&B establishments and found out that they had to adjust their platform’s functions accordingly to all the different business models.

“After several tweaks and getting some constructive feedback—and only when we entered the second half of 2018—did the ball start rolling.”

Now, to date, DiineOut has an average of 30 to 50 events per month.

Bringing home the bacon

DiineOut doesn’t charge any upfront fees and instead monetises by taking a certain transactional fee from every ticket sold.

“The fee depends on our service packages that the partners have selected from. We only earn based on the success rate of the ticket sales,” Lionel shared.

The platform’s biggest accomplishment is having worked with renowned F&B establishments such as Dewakan, one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

“Having reached over 100 partners on the platform definitely marks a new milestone for us,” Lionel said, proud that the team is working closely with other prominent F&B giants like The Glenlivet, Chivas Regal and Martell.

DiineOut has big ambitions of being not only Malaysia but the world’s biggest online ticketing platform for F&B events.

At the moment, however, they are simply focusing on ensuring the sustainability of their business and looking to expand to Penang and Johor Bahru in the near future.

The implementation of a cashback system to reward users is also in the plans.

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