Promotions have been the lifeblood of restaurants. Years ago, a deli in Queens had Dr. Ruth Westheimer give out condoms to attract new customers. (I know. I created the event.)
However, technology has now allowed restaurants to target certain segments of the population. If you dined at an established and reserved on line, you’ll probably receive e-mail alerts. Text messaging has taken that to the next level.
Four Food Studio & Cocktail Salon in Melville asks customers to join their list of "valued guests" and provide their phone numbers used for making reservations along with their e-mail addresses. Promising "no spam," the restaurant wants to inform guests about special events - and those who sign up may win a free lunch.
In Minneapolis, SuddenDeals.com has 10 restaurants that text customers regarding specials and deals. SuddenDeals.com is free for Shoppers. Julian Reytel is CEO of New Idea Technologies, a new entrant in what are called "location-based services.”
“For merchants, SuddenDeals.com operates on Credit basis,” explained Reytel. “A merchant account comes with a certain number of Credits with each monthly plan. Once you have used up all of your Credits, the system will STOP delivering your Sudden Deals until more credits are purchased. To load more credits in to the account, a merchant clicks “Add More Credits.”
Suddendeals.com has clients that range from the Envy Nightclub -- which calls itself "the downtown hot spot to see and be seen" -- to the quaint Malt Shop. While texting has worked for Envy, it is not the case for The Malt Shop. "No, Sudden Deals is not working for us,” said owner Richard Shenke. “I don't think we've had a single response in the year we've been listed."
But the segment is growing, and it’s not just in dining and shopping. Recent research from the U.K. showed taxi companies getting more than half their bookings from mobile phone text messages and an increasing number of people using discreet texts to make medical appointments.