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TimesCity acquires DineOut; Plans to eventually offer event booking

timescityTimes Internet owned TimesCity has acquired restaurant booking table service DineOut, but the company refused to disclose the terms of the deal.

DineOut lets you book tables in restaurants in return for discounts or offers and TimesCity had tied-up with the company some time last year when it introduced table booking feature on its website. The service had signed similar deals with other restaurant booking services such as BookYourTable and Mobikon as well. Miten Sampat, GM & Business Head at TimesCity said that these deals will continue despite DineOut acquisition as each of these services differ in terms of restaurant type and the area they cover.

DineOut website and phone lines will continue to operate for now. Meanwhile TimesCity is integrating table-reservations capability across all its platforms, and will merge the platforms in due course.

Sampat says they decided to acquire DineOut as the company was better from a technology point of view compared to its competitors. “When we looked at various partners, we thought they did the best job of solving the problem. They were using the right technology and platform, while following a scalable model,” Sampat says.

DineOut had raised angel funding of Rs 60 lakhs from the founders of Travel Boutique online in 2012. It currently caters to more than 450 restaurants spread out over Delhi and Mumbai and has tie-ups with other services such as BuzzInTown which will continue post the acquisition. He says that the service has grown at a rate of 10% month-on-month and has served 200,000 customers in the past 18 months, of which 20,000 customers used the service last month.

Monetisation: DineOut follows a conversion based model and is paid a commission for each referral by the restaurants. Sampat refused to disclose if the commissions are a percentage of the final bill or a fixed fee. It also provides software that restaurants can use for managing these reservations. TimesCity on the other hand was till now relying entirely on sponsored search and listings on the website for monetization.

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Events booking coming to TimesCity: The company had mentioned earlier that it plans to introduce movie ticketing in the future. Sampat says that their vision is to be a full service platform. “We have taken steps in the restaurant space and for event booking we will partner with multiple companies. We are friendly with the people at BookMyShow and it has a huge chunk of transactions in this sector, but what we have seen is that there are several players apart from them in this space,” Sampat says.  He refused to mention when the company will step into the space or which all companies they will tie-up with.

Won’t force people to login: Sampat says that the company will not follow Zomato’s recent change in policy of forcing people to login. “The objective is to get out of users way and help him find a place or book a table. That is our core value and we are focusing on that,” he says.

45% of TimesCity visitors are now on mobile devices and the overall traffic to its service has increased 100% in the last 12 months. Sampat says that it is the biggest in the sector in terms of unique visitors, but behind Zomato in terms of engagement.

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