Tweservation. Not a name you may be familiar with. However, I wanted the first post of 2011 to follow in last years footsteps and introduce you to another new social media business and concept which could be big news this year.
So what’s tweservation? Quite simply, it’s a real-time restaurant promotions and reservations service using Twitter. This enables you to reserve your table at your favorite restaurant via the most used social media platform in the world – something you have probably already been on today!
I spoke to James Bryant, co-founder of tweservation and he explained to me the concept and their aims and goals for 2011.
James, please introduce yourself and background to Hotel Insight.
I am a co-founder of tweservation along with Susumu Takao. My experience has been focused on helping IT / software / mobile companies raise capital. I have worked in business planning, finance and marketing roles for companies like salesforce.com, WebEx / Cisco, Verizon Wireless, and others. Susumu’s experience has been focused on technical architecture, software development, and infrastructure. Susumu has worked in technical, development and consulting roles for companies like GE, Electronic Arts, MCI-Systemhouse and others.
Please give us an overview of tweservation. What’s it all about, and how long as it existed?
Our application provides real-time restaurant promotions / reservations using the Twitter platform. Think of it as an easy way to contact your favorite restaurant and book a table on Twitter and receive immediate confirmation through your mobile device. Restaurants can also promote deals and specials to new and existing diners to build awareness and drive traffic to their business. Diners can make reservations by acting on a 140 character message (tweet) sent out by the restaurant based on their location.
Restaurants and diners can access us via mobile apps on Blackberry App World, iPhone App Store, Android Market, and Windows Phone 7 Marketplace or through our website (http://www.tweservation.com). We started in late 2009.
Who is the service aimed at, what’s the target market?
The best way to gain traction in a new service is to focus on a specific market. The restaurant channel was our first market and we have been successful penetrating this market in the US. Most restaurants today are starting to use social media to promote themselves and this provides a way for diners to see an attractive offer and act on it through their mobile device. We are the first restaurant reservation service to offer a solution that provides a mobile application for the restaurant as well as the diner. We do offer our service on the web but we have been getting more requests to have the entire application available through a mobile device for both sides of the transaction.
Distribution and marketing of such a product is key. What channels have been utilised so far (I myself first saw tweservation in the BlackBerry App World) and which have been the biggest success so far?
We have utilized many areas to market our service – national food blogs, major media channels, local events, and App Stores, etc.
We also had a lot of success with World Cup promotions last year (http://restaurant-hospitality.com/news/world-cup-2010-kick-off-0607/index.html?imw=Y&smte=wr)
BlackBerry has probably been our most successful mobile app due to the number of users throughout the U.S. and abroad. We have had over 15K downloads in the last few weeks alone. We have been selling our product directly through our sales team but we are starting to partner with companies in other countries this year to expand into new, fast growing markets where we don’t have a sales presence today.
How do you see 2011 and the growth of the business? What aims do you have for the year ahead and beyond?
Our main focus in 2011 is to continue to sign agreements with partners and expand internationally. We will also continue to integrate new location and loyalty functions into our mobile apps. Stay tuned.
Hotel Insight always like to follow the progress of new ideas and concepts throughout the online world, whether involved directly in the hotel industry or not. Do you see your business model expanding to other industries, for instance into the hotel market?
Our focus has been on restaurants but we have had talks with about 5 – 6 major hotel chains last year. The hotels have all jumped into social media but tend to use it mainly for customer service vs. revenue generation. Our main goal is to help drive revenue using the social media channel for our customers. We would certainly be ready to offer our service to hotels when they are ready to drive revenue to their locations.
Many thanks to James for his time in talking to Hotel Insight. We’ll catch-up with James again later in the year to see how the project is progressing. Tweservation certainly sounds like a natural progression of using Twitter and it will be interesting to see how popular it becomes, with businesses like Toptable already proving very popular. It’s also a very interesting concept for hotels – imagine booking hotels via Twitter. We already see Twitter concierge services, why not booking ability too?
Something for the future.