AR­RIF ZI­AUDEEN

CEO, Chope

Wine & Dine - - LUXURY REDEFINED: VISIONARIES -

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.

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