Reach new customers with RedBalloon

by Lauren Gleeson

How one restaurant group reached over 14,000 new customers by engaging online experience reseller, RedBalloon.

Seagrass Boutique Hospitality owns 12 full service restaurants around Australia, including The Meat & Wine Co, Hunter & Barrel, Butcher and the Farmer and Stix & Stones. Last year they nudged an additional 14,000 new customers they would not have otherwise reached. How? Read on to find out more.
10 ways to explore the great outdoors
10 ways to explore the great outdoors
On average, Australians eat out two to three times a week. That’s more than 50 million meals every week across the country. Or 2.5 billion meals every year. As at 30 June 2016 there were 85,284 eating out establishments in Australia. Dining is big business.
But despite this hunger for eating out, acquiring customers and staying in business has never been more difficult. It’s estimated that 60 per cent of restaurants will fail within the first year, and 80 per cent within the first five years.
Restaurants can no longer rely on walk ins, walk bys or word of mouth to bring customers to their door - new customers rarely find a new place to eat by walking past it on the street. Acquisition is now largely done on the digital sidewalk. Restaurants not only have to lead the horse to water, but also make it drink (and eat).
Staying wise to the digital age, and the opportunities it presents, is not only a good idea - it’s imperative to staying competitive.
The issue is, many restaurant owners don’t like the notion of paying commission to online aggregators or booking agents in order to acquire customers. Some also find it hard to envisage how to ‘create’ and sell a dining product or experience online.
10 ways to explore the great outdoors
Sam Hasim, Marketing Manager for the Seagrass Group understands this difficulty, especially given the aggressiveness of the dining market when it comes to pricing. He says the restaurant business is a tough one, and working with partners such as RedBalloon can sometimes be put in the “too hard basket”.

“We understand that we take a hit on our general pricing structure when we work with a third party booking agent, but we do this as a value exchange for customer acquisition through RedBalloon,” Mr Hasim said.

For us we get new, and repeat, customers we wouldn’t otherwise attract and we do a great deal of additional volume through RedBalloon.

“We’ve reached an additional 14,000 customers via our relationship with RedBalloon, and this number continues to grow and deliver real commercial outcomes for our restaurants as we expand the range and appeal or our different restaurant experiences.”

10 ways to explore the great outdoors
With an increasing shift to mobile and customer expectation that they can access what they want when they want it, online experience aggregators can be an ideal solution for restaurants - offering customer acquisition - ala food delivery services like UberEats, while also maintaining the integrity of the product and experience.
The issue with online ordering and delivery services as a way to tap into new customers is that once the product leaves an establishment, that chef/restaurant/owner cannot control the end product received by the customer. A cold 'deconstructed' burger that's been driven around in a van for an hour is not the product that was prepared for the customer. Yet it will be the restaurant receiving a positive or negative review at the end of the day.
By comparison, digital aggregators can still offer access to new customer audiences, but also allow the establishment to control the dining experience from start to finish, as they’re delivering the customer to the food, and not the other way around.
Mr Hasim concludes,“It’s not hard to execute or to see the value in working with a booking partner like RedBalloon - so I’m not sure why other hospitality businesses aren’t jumping more at the opportunity.” “At the end of the day, you only get out what you put in - and we’ve done the research and we know it’s worth the effort working with the likes of RedBalloon.”

RedBalloon has delivered more than four million experiences since 2001. With a multi-million dollar marketing spend and millions invested in world-class technology, we deliver a frictionless customer experience and offer our dining partners access to a platform which offers both voucher-based products and live booking functionality. Let us work with you to create and distribute dining experiences on behalf of your business, and deliver new customers and commercial benefits you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

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