What HungryGoWhere’s demise signal for the restaurant booking industry?

It was sold for S $ 12 million to Singtel in 2012.

Fast-forwarding nine years later, this online food reviewer’s guide – which once had more than 16,000 listings on its site – will have its last meal next month.

What exactly happened to this online business that was once valued at millions of dollars?

In 2018, the company’s revenue reached $ 3.21 million. That’s an increase of more than 13% from the previous year, according to startup and private business tracker Tracxn Technologies.

Responding to media inquiries, Singtel explained that the shutdown of HungryGoWhere was the result of “serious challenges” in the industry.

The move is in line with the group’s attempt to refocus its business, adding that it has conducted a detailed review of HungryGoWhere and explored various options for the company.

“It has faced serious challenges posed by competitive pressure in the industry, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, we have decided to exit the restaurant reservations market, ”the phone company said.

It was once the “main food portal in Singapore”

HungryGoWhere was founded by three entrepreneurs – Dennis Goh, Tan Yung Yih and Wong Hoong An – in 2006.

In 2012, HungryGoWhere’s parent company, GTW Holdings, was acquired for S $ 12 million by Singtel. The restaurant review portal was later touted as “Singapore’s premier food portal”.

hungry go where
Image Credit: HungryGoWhere

Singtel then aimed to “reshape” culinary experiences across Asia. The plan was to merge with the lifestyle and local search site inSing.com to create the largest reference site on food and lifestyle.

The group said in 2012 that dining out was a top activity among consumers in Singapore, with a large percentage of online restaurant search queries.

Six years later, in 2018, a Nielsen survey that surveyed more than 200 people found that one in four people eat out every day, up from one in five in 2015.

That same year, HungryGoWhere reached an annual turnover of around $ 3 million, according to data from Tracxn Technologies.

Then came the Covid-19 in 2020, which turned things upside down.

Nishant Kaushal, head of data, strategy and solutions at creative intelligence agency ADNA, says that as a service, HungryGoWhere.com has not been able to adapt quickly enough to the changing marketplace. food industry, and the changes in Covid-19 have not made the situation any easier.

According to ADNA, the pandemic drove more Singaporeans to eat at home last year. If that wasn’t enough, one in four people have found it difficult to eat out because of the pandemic’s meal restrictions.

He further indicated that 33% of Singaporeans do not plan to eat out as often in the future.

How are other players coping with the challenges of Covid-19?

A survey this year of 63 restaurants and food companies in Singapore found that food orders had fallen 85% in one year.

According to ADNA, in May, the search volume for “eating out” fell 88 percent from the same time in 2006. The search results are also just as bad for looking online for “restaurant reviews”.

Most of HungryGoWhere’s competitors are aggressively adapting to change and finding ways to deal with the new realities of Covid-19 to hold the fort.

Image Credit: Eatigo

Eatigo, which has more than 4,000 restaurants on its platform, has expanded to offer delivery or pickup services in the first quarter of this year. The company is currently working with delivery companies like Lalamove and Grab Express to send food to its customers.

Mug also moved into this space. He says he swiveled once the breaker hit the Republic last year.

Another platform, Burpple, has since launched a take-out service. It offers promotions such as individual offers to attract customers.

Quandoo, on the other hand, does not look into delivery services. The platform, which claims to have 17,000 restaurants worldwide, has other sources of revenue, such as its personalized catering technology and digital marketing services.

Win over the big boys

Image Credit: Eatbook.sg

Even though these restaurant reservation platforms adapt to food delivery and take out to survive, they still evolve in an already crowded industry. Food delivery titans like GrabFood, Foodpanda, and Deliveroo take up most of the food delivery pie.

According to analytics platform Statista, 77% of Singaporeans used GrabFood for food delivery orders last year, followed by Foodpanda and Deliveroo.

So how can these “new players” create a competitive advantage over the big guys? These platforms will have to offer their own strategies.

One way to compete would be to offer attractive reservation rates for restaurants. By leveraging the existing relationship these platforms have with restaurants, they can organize exclusive deals and compelling deals to build customer loyalty.

These platforms may also consider presenting restaurants with SG Clean certification. Maintaining high cleaning standards will attract customers who want to eat safely without worrying about hygiene.

The family group Da Paolo, for example, has this certification in its restaurants. He performs rigorous cleanliness checks, such as disinfecting tables after each use and maintaining a safety distance. Its staff are kept informed through a security management system uploaded to the cloud.

In a post-pandemic era, that’s the least food-related businesses can do to reassure customers and give them peace of mind.

Featured Image Credit: HungryGoWhere

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