Through an undisclosed sum comprising cash and shares, Malaysian online restaurant reservation startup TABLEAPP has just been acquired by Taiwanese on-demand lifestyle booking app FunNow.
While operating within similar markets, the two apps themselves operate rather differently, but this acquisition will allow them to leverage on each other’s offerings.
We spoke to Benson Chang, CEO of TABLEAPP, to learn more about what this acquisition would mean for the Malaysian startup.
Stronger And Better Together
FunNow’s strength lies in allowing users to make instant (last-minute) reservations for various entertainment and leisure venues such as lounge bars, bistros, spas, and beauty centres.
Having been present in Malaysia for about 5 years now, today it offers about 1,000 deals.
On the other hand, TABLEAPP has served diners in Malaysia since its establishment in 2013. As of today, it’s seated over 6.3 million diners.
Through its website and mobile app, diners are able to make real-time, free restaurant reservations 24/7 with instant confirmation online.
More than that, it’s also enabled a table management system for merchants.
With its acquisition by FunNow, TABLEAPP will now enable restaurants to sell their empty tables at the last minute, expanding its user base, Benson shared.
However, users will now have to pay when they make reservations, though they also get a discount deal to sweeten the experience.
This change is so that merchants can reduce or eliminate their no-show rate, which is more likely to happen with free reservations.
So, not only will merchants be able to offer their planned reservations, but they can fill up empty tables at the last minute too.
Users Get The Best Of Both
Benson believes that this move will put TABLEAPP ahead of the game, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic where every filled table matters more than ever.
“Imagine if you get 8 no-shows out of 10 reservations, it will hurt restaurants badly,” he said.
This is where he sees the benefit of the combined platform in helping restaurants eliminate no-shows and optimise revenue.
The IT integration of both platforms will begin in Q1 2021, and merchants with TABLEAPP will not have to worry about switching systems.
According to Benson, both platforms will still operate independently despite the acquisition, with TABLEAPP continuing to focus on servicing restaurant merchants, while FunNow continues its consumer-focused services.
Users will simply get the best of both worlds.
Combining Multiple Existing Concepts Into One Platform
The combined platform will not be completely rebranded; TABLEAPP will now be known as TABLEAPP from FunNow.
By leveraging on TABLEAPP’s local footprints and FunNow’s international resources, Benson is confident that they have what it takes to become a top lifestyle platform in Malaysia.
To further add onto their offerings, they have plans to expand FunNow’ services to other sectors in Malaysia. For example, Benson said that they’ll soon be launching a hotel room booking service.
From what I’ve learnt so far, the added services that TABLEAPP from FunNow would offer in the F&B sector is reminiscent of what Eatigo already offers.
On Eatigo, you can also get instant or planned reservations that come with discount deals. So, it’s not an entirely new concept in Malaysia.
However, if we’re talking about what TABLEAPP and FunNow can offer as a combined platform, in terms of F&B and lifestyle on-demand bookings with discounts, I don’t believe we have such an all-in-one platform yet.
It’d be interesting to see the reception of the combined platform once it’s fully rolled out, but I do wonder about their plan to offer hotel room bookings.
With platforms like Agoda, Traveloka and Booking.com already dominating that market, it could be tough for the team to penetrate.
Not One To Rest On Its Laurels
Despite my concerns, TABLEAPP has proven itself to be a startup that doesn’t stay idle with its offerings for long.
In 2017, TABLEAPP launched its first-ever paid membership programme, TABLEAPP ELITE, which allowed members to redeem premium signature dishes for free at top restaurants in Klang Valley.
In April 2020, TABLEAPP launched its delivery service and dining voucher programme to help restaurateurs through the rough pandemic times.
This time round, I believe that the startup will find a way to accomplish what it’s now set out to do, and from a consumer viewpoint, the more convenient services we have, the better.
- You can learn more about TABLEAPP here, and FunNow here.
- You can read other acquisition stories here.
Featured Image Credit: Benson Chang, CEO of TABLEAPP / Philip Ting, Founding Partner and Head of Southeast Asia of FunNow