Australian restaurants overcome Cloud reservations

Online booking system improves customer service, restaurant loyalty

Unanswered phone calls and lost business are a thing of the past for some 2000 restaurants across Australia, who have taken reservations into the 21st century by adopting the Dimmi real-time, online booking system.

Dimmi founder and managing director, Stevan Premutico, developed the system to help foster better relations between restaurants and their customers.

“I think treating customers like an ATM machine where they’re in and out are over,” he said. “Restaurants today understand they need to build customer loyalty and value.”

The system works by using an online widget on a restaurant’s website, where patrons click on the widget and make a booking, with customers receiving a confirmation email and a reminder 24 hours before the booking.

Following the meal, patrons can provide feedback on the experience and if the diner comes back on repeat business, then the restaurant has notes on their past experience and food/wine preferences.

Launched in November 2009, Premutico was inspired to create the system due to his experience working in marketing at the Hilton Hotel in London. During this time, he noticed how ingrained online restaurant booking systems were in the UK market.

“The reason why Australia is so far behind the curve is the reservation platform has been cost prohibitive,” he said. “For a restaurant to invest in a system, they were paying in excess of $AUD20,000 just for the platform.”

There is no upfront cost for restaurants, as the company uses a performance-based model. For example, the restaurant pays a fee starting from $1 to Dimmi every time a booking is made using the widget.

“Australian restaurants are generally great in the kitchen but we help them be great online,” said Premutico. “We’ve seated 750,000 customers across the country so far and we’re seating a new diner every 25 seconds.

According to Premutico, some of the benefits restaurants will receive by using this system include no more missed phone reservations, the elimination of handwritten bookings and unanswered emails.

“The research I conducted in the hospitality market indicated that six in 10 calls that go to restaurants across the Australian market are not answered,” he said. “That’s traditionally lost bookings and frustrated customers.”

Prior to launching Dimmi, Premutico spoke to restaurant owners to see what they wanted from the offering and it soon became apparent that Cloud technology was critical for the system because he found owners needed three key requirements.

“Operators didn’t want big clunky computers in the restaurant, the system had to be cost effective and they didn’t want to have to manage IT or have in house servers.”

All of the booking data is stored and backed up in Sydney using international data centre owner, Global Switch.

Looking to the future, Premutico plans to have 4000 restaurants in Australia using Dimmi by the end of 2011 and while he is concentrating on the domestic market for now, countries with a robust hospitality industry such as New Zealand are next in line for development.

The system can be accessed on a variety of form factors including the PC, iPad or iPhone.

The fine dining section of the hospitality industry is not alone in the online revolution, following news takeaway franchise Eagle Boys has recently announced it is undertaking a $3 million overhaul of its IT infrastructure to meet increasing demand for better online services[new.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags online bookingCloudrestaurantsDimmiDimmi Stevan Premutico

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