Jumping on the group buying bandwagon, Zagat Survey next month plans to roll out a new online program offering deals at restaurants beginning in New York City.
"Zagat Exclusives," powered by Groupon competitor DealOn Media, will offer restaurant discounts in limited quantities for fixed periods. The initial price will drop as more people buy the offer, with the final price at the end of the sale interval what all participants end up paying.
Restaurant deals can take the form of a prix-fixe menu (including appetizers, entrees, deserts and coffee) offered at a special price or, say, of a $100 voucher for $65. Zagat declined to name any New York restaurants involved at launch, but said they will range "from relaxed and casual to special-occasion spots" listed in its familiar red guidebooks.
"Zagat Exclusives" will start with three to four deals a week and potentially increase to a deal or more a day over time, according to Rafael Cosentino, vice president of business development at DealOn.
And because of Zagat's clout in the restaurant world, many of the offers will also include "meeting the chef, a tour of the kitchen or other unique experiences," according to Cosentino. In addition Zagat.com, deals will be appear on DealOn.com as well as other sites DealOn syndicates the offers to.
Zagat is counting on the group-buying trend to appeal to foodies and restaurateurs feeling the pinch of a down economy. A recent national Zagat survey found 39% of people say they are more attentive to prices in light of recent economic woes. After launching in New York, Zagat plans to roll out "Zagat Exclusives" in other cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Zagat follows rivals such as Yelp and OpenTable in adding a group buying feature to its online offerings. DealOn has been expanding its efforts in the space as well, introducing an Internet-based exchange last month dubbed OfferEx allowing deal suppliers to bid to get their offers displayed on third-party sites.