However, an extension of daily deals websites have extended to "Group Buying" sites and have particularly exploded in Australia in 2010 even though it is already big in the States. The way it works is quite simple - a single bargain goes on sale, for a limited time usually 24 hours, and must reach a minimum number of buyers before the deal is on. Fail to reach the minimum and the deal doesn't go through, though in practice this rarely ever happens.
Today, the market is made up of sites like Scoopon, Spreets, Cudo, LivingSocial, Zoupon, JumpOnIt, OurDeal, Ouffer, Crowdmass and Vowcha.
The original daily deals concept of selling PRODUCTS at a heavily discounted price have since then been extended to everything else from restaurant deals to adventure holidays to spa treatments via these group buying sites.
Why am I telling you all this?
Like I said, eBay is no longer my biggest online shopping temptation. I am now constantly being tempted by restaurant deals from these group buying sites claiming a whopping 60% discount and extremely great "value for money".
So I have recently purchased three separate vouchers from three different Group Buying Sites and I'd like to share with my readers just how much "value for money" you really get from these deals.
Deal One: "A sumptuous seafood feast for two at The Lounge Hotel, Docklands! A dozen oysters, two grilled seafood plates and wine - only $40! You save 62%!
Firstly, a few facts about what I think of this deal:
- I've never heard of The Lounge Hotel at Docklands
- If I never saw this deal, I probably would continue never hearing of this place
- If I never saw this deal, I would probably never go to The Lounge Hotel
- But I saw this deal and I bought this deal, because I would pay $40 for two people to give it a go
- If it wasn't $40 for two people, I would probably never give this place a go
- Now that I've only paid $40 to eat here, I'm not sure if I will ever go back and pay full price
- On the other hand, now that I've sampled their food and know exactly what to expect - if I honestly think the food is worth $130 (not $40 which is what I paid for - because remember, I am getting a "really good deal" aka a "bargain") then I am more likely to consider coming back for a special occasion fully aware of what to expect.
A few other points worth pondering:
- When thousands of deals are sold, and the vouchers are only valid for say, 6 months for argument sake - and a limited number of tables are allocated to "deals vouchers" each night in order for the restaurant to maintain a reasonable profit margin - what happens then when the restaurant is unable to accommodate the demand?
- Will they extend the validity of voucher?
- Will the restaurants be counting on some people not being able to use their voucher for any reason?
So we finally come to the part where I start reviewing my first restaurant experience purchased via a Group Buying Site. In this case, CUDO.
My workmate and I decided to book our lunch at The Lounge Hotel, Docklands as we thought it would be less busy at lunch time and hopefully I get better lighting for photos.
As we were approaching The Lounge Hotel, which is basically a pub that's not too big but clearly looks like it could be quite a cosy yet cool hangout place at night with Live Music, the restaurant looked rather empty. I suppose it's not much different to all the other restaurants on a Tuesday afternoon. It's just quite normal for The Docklands! It's ... quiet! It's quite strange, because The Docklands actually have some great restaurants and if it was buzzing with activity it would've been an ultimate place to check out in Melbourne.
Anyway, back to my review. We sat down and quickly realised that the couple on our left were there to use the same Cudo voucher, and so are the two ladies on the table on our right. Part of the deal included a bottle of house wine, but we were not interested in having wine in the middle of the day so we just opted to swap with a glass of Coke and pineapple juice. The restaurant was more than happy to accommodate.. after all, the soft drink and juice is a lot cheaper than the bottle of wine!
Our entree arrived nice and quick. Nothing could've gone wrong with this entree. The natural oysters were fresh and the sauce complimented them very well. The dozen oysters alone on the menu was $26 so our $40 bill was already more than halfway there with these oysters. They were an incredible treat for a weekday lunch.
And then comes the waiting...
And more waiting...
I was so tired of waiting, I decided to chat to the couple next to us and ask if they were happy with their meal and if they would ever come back to this restaurant again and pay full price. They both said a big fat NO and they were happy to spend $40 on this meal but didn't think it was worth more than $100.
45 minutes later, our Grilled Seafood Plates arrived. It's actually quite an attractive looking plate. According to the menu, this plate was about $27 each - so we very well and truly exceeded our total bill of $40 at this point. The fish was beautiful, soft and tender the way I like it. I hate fish cooked to the point of dryness more than I hate beetroot. The scallops were just a little bit overcooked, but it was okay. The prawns were fresh and deliciously flavored with a hint of garlic and herbs. The mussels, well they were cooked mussels. Fresh and tender. The CHIPS were surprisingly really good pub chips. It was nice and crispy, not soggy at all. And the seafood sauce? Pretty average but I really like how they were served in a seashell. Very pretty.
But here's one thing I didn't get - the restaurant was pretty empty at that time. WHY did it take 45 minutes for our mains to arrive? They knew we were coming because we booked in advance and mentioned our Cudo voucher. It IS a work day and therefore we had lunch break time constraints to be mindful of. If it was that slow on a slow day, how much slower would it be on a busy weekend night??
Overall though, for $40 it was an excellent meal for two.
- I don't think I will go back to The Lounge Hotel and pay full price. Sorry.
Over 2,000 deals were sold on Cudo for this deal. The Lounge Hotel made over $80,000 in a DAY. Need I say more?
My next review will be on another deal from JumpOnIt.com.au at Santorini Hawthorn sometime middle of March. We bought 3 coupons between 3 couples going together on the same night on a Friday night! Should be interesting. Stay tuned!