'No discount no customer' is simply hoax: NRAI

By Rituraj Baruah

New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) As restaurants across the country, led by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) are taking online food aggregators head-on against deep discounts in the dine-in segment, an official with NRAI has said that the fear psychosis being spread that lack of discounts would hurt sales and customer footfall is wrong and there are "enough" people who would like to pay for good quality food.

Speaking to IANS, NRAI's Mumbai Chapter Head, Anurag Katriar said that after the logout from the aggregators' services, restaurants have in fact witnessed a rise in average per customer (yield). He, however, said that the exact value has not been ascertained.

"This whole fear psychosis is being created that if you don't give discounts people will not comeā€¦. There are enough people in India who are happy to pay for quality," Katriar said.

He further said the discounts have been there for years, but for a specific time period, days or festivals, but aggregators such as Zomato Gold have made it a daily affair.

Speaking about the impact of the steep discounts provided by the online aggregators over the last couple of years, "They are running a loyalty programme for the masses, the cost of which is borne by the restaurants and the money is being collected by them."

"We were told it was an exclusive dine in program for elite people, 4,000-5,000 people will be invited across the country... The problem happened when 5,000 became 10 lakhs."

"They said if consumers buy one main course, we would have to give them one main course free and the customer will pay for everything else, that is what we were told initially," he said. But, Katriar told IANS that there are several instances where the schemes were misused and the restaurant had to bear to cost, not the aggregator.

Katriar who is the Executive Director and CEO of deGustibus Hospitality, observed that there cannot be a situation where a broker (referring to the aggregators) directs the owner about the discount to be provided, that too at the cost of the restaurant's finances.

Mumbai-based Katriar told IANS that, NRAI has reached into an agreement with most of the food aggregators, except Zomato and likely to log into those aggregators soon after the intricacies of the deal is done.

NRAI in a statement has said: "We thank Dineout, Eazydiner, Magicpin and Nearbuy for rejigging their features to eradicate the deep discounting epidemic. However, Zomato has decided to cut all ties through a statement of their assertion of logging out of the logout campaign. From our end, that simply implies #ZoGoisNoGo."

So, it seems that the NRAI, which represents the interests of over 5 lakh restaurants has had its way in terms of agreements with most of the aggregators but a truce with Zomato is unlikely, at least in the near future.

(Rituraj Baruah can be reached at rituraj.b@ians.in)

--IANS

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