Restau­ra­teurs need a plat­form to stay afloat

The Freeman - - Business -

Un­de­ni­ably, we al­ready sound like a bro­ken record in stress­ing that our econ­omy’s con­trac­tion this year is the high­est in the ASEAN and the worst since the Mar­cos era. Also, we al­ready feel like vom­it­ing ev­ery time we talk about the un­prece­dented highs in un­em­ploy­ment rate due to our overindul­gence of it.

Yet, for the call of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment on the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion (EC) to ini­ti­ate the pro­ce­dure that may lead to the tem­po­rary with­drawal of the coun­try’s GSP+ pref­er­ences (like zero tar­iff on some of our prod­ucts ex­ported to the Euro­pean Union), Pres­i­dent Duterte’s spokesper­son Harry Roque goaded them to “go ahead” with it.

Whether he felt he was in a poker game try­ing to bluff, we do not know. What is cer­tain though is that if the EC will with­draw our GSP+ pref­er­ences, our econ­omy will cer­tainly con­tract fur­ther and more of our coun­try­men will be ren­dered job­less. Why? Be­cause such with­drawal will make our prod­ucts less com­pet­i­tive.

These prod­ucts in­clude items that are farm-based (like dairy, fruits, veg­eta­bles, co­conut oils, cof­fee, co­coa and to­bacco), fish, chem­i­cals, fer­til­iz­ers, es­sen­tial oils, soaps, ar­ti­cles of plas­tics and rub­ber. Ob­vi­ously, from la­bor-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries.

So that, be­fore we vomit again, let us talk about jobs in a dif­fer­ent way. First and fore­most, we must be all re­minded that the pan­demic has changed some of our habits a bit. For in­stance, in­stead of hav­ing weekly dine outswith our fam­i­lies, we are now opt­ing to ei­ther cook or go for home de­liv­er­ies. There is noth­ing wrong with that. The down­side though is that, some em­ploy­ees (par­tic­u­larly those in the din­ing area) lost their jobs tem­po­rar­ily.

This sit­u­a­tion is glob­ally felt or ex­pe­ri­enced. Luck­ily though, some coun­tries are so wealthy that they are able to help restau­ra­teurs and their em­ploy­ees sur­vive. For in­stance, in the United King­dom (UK), the govern­ment launched its “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme. In this scheme, the govern­ment essen­tially “sub­si­dizes the cost of meals by up to 50% when peo­ple eat out at par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants.” Thus, restau­ra­teurs and their em­ploy­ees are still able to breathe com­fort­ably. Well, the UK is awash with money. So, that’sa no-brainer.

In the USA, on the other hand, a restau­rant book­ing plat­form, Seated, stood out in this try­ing time. As a tes­ta­ment, amid the coronaviru­s on­slaught, it raised US$30 mil­lion in fund­ing. Uniquely, it is a plat­form that re­wards cus­tomers with gift cards for din­ing out. As if, one gets paid for din­ing out. By the way, these are no or­di­nary gift cards. These are com­ing from known com­pa­nies like Ama­zon, Nike, Sephora and Uber.

ThisNew York-based Seated started only in 2017 book­ing ta­bles for “in-restau­rant eat­ing.” Through­out its ex­is­tence, it has al­ready ac­cu­mu­lated some 900,000 re­served seats (for around 800 in­de­pen­dent restau­rants) and US$37 mil­lion in rev­enue for its restau­rant part­ners across New York City, Bos­ton, At­lanta and Chicago.

Im­pres­sively, in try­ing to sup­port its restau­rant part­ners amid this on­go­ing pan­demic, it went be­yond pro­vid­ing reser­va­tions to “in-restau­rant” din­ers. It re­cently launched Seated at Home, a take­out ser­vice. It is ex­pected to com­pete against the likes of Grub­hub and UberEats, with 0% com­mis­sion on or­ders. This way, it is able to help restau­rants make use of their un­der­uti­lized kitchen.

Not only that, it also ac­quired VenueBook, a plat­form for “event plan­ners to re­serve space at restau­rants and other venues.” Re­port­edly, it has 120,000 event plan­ners in its fold.This way, they are able to help restau­rants make money for their un­used spa­ces or pri­vate rooms.

Sim­ply put, with its plat­form’s “in-restau­rant” book­ings, Seated at Home and Seated Events, Seated­of­fers three dif­fer­ent ways for restau­rants to earn and stay in busi­ness in the long haul. First, when the sit­u­a­tion goes back to nor­mal, “in-restau­rant” din­ers will be com­fort­ably guided where to go. Se­condly, as the kitchen is cur­rently un­der­uti­lized, take-outs will be able to fill in the gap. Lastly, with book­ing for events also in the fold, some un­used spa­ces or pri­vate rooms (for health or safety rea­sons) even dur­ing this pan­demic can also be filled up.

In­deed, from this kind of plat­form, we can surely learn a thing or two. That clos­ing one’s restau­rant, just be­cause of this pan­demic, is not an op­tion. That we can al­ways find a way to stay afloat (us­ing­what­ever struc­ture or equip­ment we al­ready have) by tweak­ing a bit the way we do or op­er­ate our ex­ist­ing busi­ness.

Cer­tainly, this kind of plat­form, if we can repli­cate, will make restau­rant busi­nesses in the coun­try re­main prof­itable.

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