Groupon Helps Restaurants Fill Tables During Off-Hours With Reservation-Based Deals

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With Groupon's new feature, timing is everything.

The daily deals site announced on Wednesday it would begin offering deals that could only be redeemed by businesses at specific times. Using the new platform, customers would need to make a reservation through Groupon after buying the deal, instead of redeeming the deal at any time.

The service promises to be a homerun for businesses who need to fill up their restaurants and bars in quiet hours, but don't want to miss out on customers paying full price during busier periods.

“They’re making it really easy for us to fill tables during off-peak times, which generates more revenue for the restaurant and gives us more opportunities to attract new customers and turn them into lifelong fans,” Rick Bayless, owner of Frontera Grill in Chicago, said in a statement released by Groupon.

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Frontera Grill was one of the approximately 100 food and beverage establishments in Groupon's pilot for time-based deals. Today, the platform is available to all restaurants that accept reservations, with plans to expand to other businesses that take appointments such as salons, spas and classes. 

The benefits for salons and restaurants trying to bring in new customers during off hours are clear. But what does the customer get out of the new option? The platform cuts out the need to bring along a voucher or whip out Groupon mobile after a meal, since the discounted reservation is in the books. For some, the ability to book ahead of time may also help ensure that every deal that gets bought gets used. However, the new time limitations can make the new feature a drag for Groupon-users who like the flexibility of being able to use a deal whenever they want – not just at inconvenient times that work best for a restaurant. 

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