Earlier this month, Verify announced a partnership with eat, The Middle East's fastest-growing real-time reservation platform for restaurants. Eat currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, and has seated more than 1 million diners across 500+ restaurants. The reason this partnership is ground breaking is because there is a serious problem with restaurant reservations in the Middle East: A staggering 23.7% of people who reserve a table never show up at the restaurant.
To be fair, we've been improving this metric since the launch of eat, introducing innovative restaurant front-of-house technologies. We first launched our table management system to help restaurants stay organized, and manage reservations and customers efficiently. The system has a feature that allows restaurants to send SMS and email notifications to customers to remind them of their upcoming reservations. Eat's consumer-facing app also integrates with Google Calendar and iCal and has push notification features to continue reminding guests of their reservations. All this helps, but still isn't enough to completely eliminate the issue of no-shows.
Several interesting solutions have surfaced in the market, including "ticketing" solutions, like Tocktix. You pre-purchase your ticket (or meal) online, arrive at the restaurant, dine and walk-out without asking for the cheque. If you don't show up, well, just like a cinema ticket, the seat is gone and is non-refundable.
In 2015, I've personally worked with Yazin Alirhayim, founder at Verify, and launched "Ticketing by Eat" together at Enigma at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, the first restaurant in the Middle East to accept restaurant ticketing. Yazin was at Start by PayFort (Amazon company) at the time. The concept was great, you can see our designs here.
The problem was online payments: every restaurant had to sign up at PayFort and get verified and acquainted with their acquiring bank. Some countries were allowed, others weren't. For example, we couldn't launch this in Bahrain because there was no acquiring bank in Bahrain. It was also very expensive; ~ 3% was charged by the acquiring bank. This "Middle Man" business and online acquiring banks made the execution too difficult to scale, so we ended up discarding the project all together.
When Yazin launched Verify and showed us the demo, we knew this was ground breaking because it solved the exact problems the traditional payment gateway solutions were lacking. We're really excited to revive "Ticketing by Eat" via Verify.