Seven years ago, when online dining reservations were not yet a norm, Singaporean entrepreneur Arrif Ziaudeen founded Chope, a company that started with just nine restaurants on its reservation platform. Today, it is a leading online reservations app, helping diners to instantly book tables at restaurants across Singapore, Phuket, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok, Bali and Jakarta. The company, which amassed more than $10 million in revenue last year, also assists restaurants with various services, such as table management and analytics & insights.
Do you view food as a luxury?
I think food should be made accessible to everyone and anyone should be able to enjoy it. That said, I certainly think travelling the world to experience different cultures through local cuisine is the one luxury I value most.
Having dined out and worked with so many restaurants in your course of work, what’s your definition of a luxurious meal?
While luxury is often defined by an expensive price tag, the most luxurious meal for me revolves around the luxury of time. I imagine a carefree Saturday afternoon lunch shared with family and good friends over laughter and great conversations, with nothing but a solid nap waiting afterward!
With the rise of dining in and gourmet meals available via delivery, will it be increasingly more luxurious to dine and order in regularly, versus dining out?
Delivery helps you eat, but Chope helps you dine. Nothing can replace the unique human experience of sharing a meal with friends—since cavemen days, dining has been the centre of social life. Of course, brilliant service, ambience and food, are all factors that make dining out with the ones whose company you love that much more special.
How do you think Millennials and Generation Z’ers will define a luxurious dining experience in the next five years?
As a tech start-up, we attract many self-motivated Millennials and Gen Z’ers to work at Chope. If I dare say I understand them, I think they would look to define a luxurious dining experience as meaningful, innovative, and one that tells a story. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are attracted to things that serve a greater purpose.
How do you see the fine dining restaurant scene changing in the next five years?
The dining scene itself is fiercely competitive, especially in Singapore. The landscape is already rapidly evolving, and the traditional definition of fine dining has already shifted from one of exclusivity that offers the stereotypical white tablecloth experience to one that’s more accessible with a range of experiences. There may even be a boom of more local chefs stepping into the game and sharing their stories through food, simply because we’re starting to appreciate local talent. As the accessibility of art and entertainment widens, there will be a change in how people view and appreciate fine dining as an activity.
You’re already providing support services to restaurants such as running their bookings and tracking their diner data. How do you think you can take this up a notch to help them snag the lavish yet fickle diner? Chope’s table management system helps restaurants understand who their diners are from the moment they pick up the phone or walk in the door—imagine
being able to usher VIPs out from the queue, know a regular’s seat preferences, or offer a customised deal. Despite being a tech company, our goal isn’t to replace the human touch. Indeed, it’s to give hosts time and space to do what they do best.
What does Chope have in the works to keep itself ahead of the competition for diners seeking topquality meals?
Technology is changing the way we live and work. Not only does it give us greater convenience and speeds up our processes, it also redefines how we interact with each other and our loved ones. At Chope, we harness technology and data to do the reverse. We understand that people drive our business—people going out, to enjoy each other, to dine together. As such, we continue to connect diners to restaurants in innovative ways such as intensely personal restaurant recommendations, availability at the hardest-toget tables in town, and providing better value for the savvy diner. We keep ahead of the competition by not looking at them—but by staying focused on understanding and catering to the needs of our restaurants and users.