Calling a truce, Zomato has suspended its contentious Infinity Dining programme from its app. Restaurants were furious with Zomato over its "deep and unsustainable" discounting.
Over 1,000 restaurants in major Indian cities have reportedly de-listed themselves from the dine-in programmes of services like Zomato over the "unsustainable" deep discounts offered by the aggregators, saying the table reservation services were hurting their business mode.
What is the Infinity Dining programme
Zomato Gold was introduced as an exclusive dining-out social drinking membership program that extends special perks like a complimentary dish and up to two complimentary drinks every time a Gold member went to dine at or hit the bar at more than 6000 partner restaurants across India.
The plan has been introduced in partnership with 350 restaurants"with at least a 3.5 rating"in Delhi, Mumbai and Benga
The advantage? "For the same price that users would spend on a typical two-course meal, they can now order anything and everything you want from the entire menu (yes, the entire menu!) with unlimited servings of their favourite dishes," Gaurav Gupta, Chief Operating Officer & Co-founder, Zomato, wrote in a blog post, IANS reported.
Though it started out as an elite dining programme meant for 5,000 people and 80-100 restaurants in the country, media reports said Zomato eventually sold over 1 million memberships.
Zomato said its Gold subscription programme has grown almost 100 percent in the past eight months.
Infinity Dining was launched just over two months ago in three cities with 300-plus restaurants.
In a letter to its partner restaurants accessed by IANS, Zomato Founder Deepinder Goyal said the company has put a minimum floor on Gold membership fee and will not sell 'Gold' service at anything less than Rs 1,800 for an annual membership.
"The biggest pain point we heard was that users hop between places on a busy night, claiming 1+1 starters at one place, 1+1 main course at another, and 2+2 drinks at the last.
"To solve this, we will limit Gold usage by a single user to one unlock per day. This will ensure that customers complete their dining experience at a single restaurant, bringing the net effective discount down significantly," Goyal said in a letter.
Another big pain point, said Goyal, was about multiple number of Gold unlocks per table.
"Going forward we are going to restrict the number of unlocks to a max of two per table. This will be applicable from 15 September. In case of more than 5 people on a table, we are coming up with a modified Infinity Dining product based on set menus which will work really well for large groups," the Zomato Founder explained.
The letter came after a nationwide #logout campaign by the restaurants. The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) on Tuesday told the online food aggregators to realign their offerings to create a restaurant-friendly ecosystem.
Meanwhile, a Zomato spokesperson said that the main focus of Infinity Dining was to enable more of the opportunities for restaurants. The firm got a range of feedback about the service and paused it.
"Infinity Dining was launched just over two months ago in three cities with 300+ restaurants. The product is in alpha stage and being tested continuously. Group dining, whether organised office parties or family outings, is a valuable large-table opportunity. The very focus of infinity was to enable more of these opportunities for restaurants. We received a range of feedback about the service, and have paused it as we incorporate the feedback," said the spokesperson.