South African software company, Dineplan has announced the launch of a free mobile app for diners to search available tables and book at more than 1000 restaurants countrywide.
The app, which can be downloaded on Android and iOS phones, allows users to explore restaurants by availability, name and area; or find nearby restaurants with available tables based on their current location to make effortless reservations at a tap of a button.
Indecisive diners can peruse ratings, cuisines on offer, price range, open times and the attributes of each eatery to help them pick and book the perfect place. Once an instant booking is made, the app user immediately receives an SMS and email confirming the details of their booking.
On the day of the booking, they will receive a reminder SMS asking them to reply ‘Confirm’ or ‘Cancel’ to automatically update the status of their booking.
Dineplan founders Martin Rose and Greg Whitfield, who have been friends since school, started the reservation
software company in Cape Town in 2011 after they one day agreed over lunch how diners require the instant
satisfaction of making quick and successful reservations.
They started developing back-end software for restaurants to use as their electronic reservation book, which would
later enable instant bookings to diners. Today, more than 20 000 bookings are made across the South African Dineplan network every day, with 30% of these made online.
“We have been developing the Dineplan software and selling it to restaurants for seven years,” said Rose.
“With more than 1000 local restaurants using Dineplan to manage their reservations, we have access to the availability of any of these restaurants at any time. “The app allows us to make this information available to the public in a very convenient manner, allowing them to search this availability and make an instant booking at any of these restaurants.”
Trendsetting online bookings
“I think the app will make a significant impact in the SA market. There is no other app or website in the country that can offer this service,” added Whitfield. “Consumers are rapidly moving online and becoming more technologically-minded.
For last-minute bookings or special occasions, this can save a diner having to phone multiple restaurants trying to find an open table.
“Diners can also view their upcoming bookings; edit and share the booking details with others; save their credit card details to make payment of future reservation deposits easier, and save a list of their favourite restaurants or restaurants they would like to visit in the future.
“We hope to get the Dineplan app into every diner’s pocket as the go-to method for making restaurant reservations in South Africa. ‘We have a lot more exciting ideas and functionality that we will add to the app in the future, which will continue to increase the convenience provided to diners and restaurants.”
From fine-dining to franchise feasts
While Dineplan initially started with top-tier fine dining establishments as clients, the fast-growing company now caters for restaurants of all types and sizes.
“Dineplan has evolved a lot over the years and continues to do so,” said Rose. “The tech world rapidly changes, and you need to constantly challenge yourself and your product to ensure you are offering the best solution.
“We have made the software extremely diverse and completely customisable to suit any restaurant client. We now
have all types of restaurants using Dineplan, from the number one in the country, The Test Kitchen, to Spurs and everything in between.”
Whitfield explained how the software and app are greatly beneficial to the restaurant as well as the diner.
‘There are so many benefits for restaurants, including online bookings, SMS functionality, reduction in no-shows, database creation, table management, and the list goes on.
“I would say the number one benefit for any restaurant is that using Dineplan positions them well for the future and the ever-changing market. “Online booking forms a significant part to this as everyone and everything is moving online, and restaurants simply have to offer instant online bookings if they are going to survive in the future.
“The other significant area is building a database of their customers. Technology is advancing at such a rate, and to be able to benefit best from this, you need data.”