Malaysian online restaurant reservation startup TABLEAPP has just been acquired by Taiwanese on-demand lifestyle booking app FunNow.
While operating in similar markets, the two apps themselves function quite differently. However, through this acquisition, they can take advantage of each other's offers.
We spoke to Benson Chang, CEO of TABLEAPP, to find out more about what this acquisition would mean for the Malaysian startup.
Stronger and better together
The strength of FunNow is that users can make instant (last minute) reservations for various entertainment and leisure facilities such as lounge bars, bistros, spas and beauty centers.
The company has been present in Malaysia for about 5 years and has about 1,000 offers today.
FunNows page for its deals in Kuala Lumpur
On the other hand, TABLEAPP has been serving guests in Malaysia since its inception in 2013. To date, it has more than 6.3 million guests.
Via the website and the mobile app, guests can make free restaurant reservations in real time around the clock and confirm them online immediately.
In addition, a table management system for dealers has been activated.
With the acquisition by FunNow, TABLEAPP now enables restaurants to sell their empty tables at the last minute, expanding the user base, Benson said.
However, users now have to pay when they make reservations, though they also get a discount offer to sweeten the experience.
This change is to allow merchants to reduce or eliminate their no-show rate, which is more likely with free reservations.
This means that retailers can not only offer their planned reservations, but also fill empty tables at the last minute.
Users get the best of both worlds
Benson believes this move will bring TABLEAPP before the game, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic, where every filled table is more important than ever.
The current site of TABLEAPP
"Imagine if you get 8 no shows out of 10 reservations, it is going to be very bad for restaurants," he said.
Here he sees the advantage of the combined platform in helping restaurants avoid no-shows and optimizing sales.
The IT integration of both platforms will begin in the first quarter of 2021, and dealers with TABLEAPP will not have to worry about system changes.
Benson said both platforms will continue to operate independently despite the acquisition, with TABLEAPP continuing to focus on serving restaurant retailers while FunNow continues its consumer-facing services.
Users simply get the best of both worlds.
Combining several existing concepts into one platform
The combined platform will not be fully renamed. TABLEAPP is now referred to as TABLEAPP by FunNow.
Leveraging TABLEAPP's local presence and FunNow's international resources, Benson is confident that they have what it takes to become a top lifestyle platform in Malaysia.
To further expand their offerings, they plan to expand the FunNow services to other sectors in Malaysia. For example, Benson said they will be launching a hotel room booking service soon.
From what I've learned so far, the additional services that FunNow's TABLEAPP would offer in the F&B sector are reminiscent of what Eatigo is already offering.
At Eatigo, you can also get instant or scheduled reservations with discount offers. So it's not a completely new concept in Malaysia.
However, when we talk about what TABLEAPP and FunNow can offer as a combined platform in terms of F&B and lifestyle on demand bookings with discounts, I still don't think we have such an all-in-one platform .
It would be interesting to see how the combined platform will be received once it's fully rolled out, but I am amazed at their plan to offer hotel room bookings.
With platforms like Agoda, Traveloka and Booking.com already dominating this market, it could be difficult for the team to break into this market.
Not one who rests on his laurels
Despite my concerns, TABLEAPP has proven to be a startup that does not stay idle for long with its offers.
In 2017 TABLEAPP launched its first paid membership program, TABLEAPP ELITE, which allows members to redeem premium signature dishes in top restaurants in Klang Valley for free.
In April 2020, TABLEAPP launched its delivery service and meal voucher program to help restaurateurs in difficult times of the pandemic.
This time, I believe the startup will find a way to achieve what it plans to do now. From the consumer's point of view, the more convenient the services we have, the better.
- Further information on TABLEAPP and FunNow can be found here.
- You can read more acquisition stories here.
Selected image source: Benson Chang, CEO of TABLEAPP / Philip Ting, founding partner and head of Southeast Asia of FunNow