July 1, 2013, 12:10 PM

Groupon offers fine dining discounts and reservations

The daily-deal operator revamps its upscale restaurant tool and adds reservations.

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Groupon Inc. today relaunched its high-end Groupon Reserve service, adding a reservations tool that lets consumers book tables and procure discounts.

Savored—a company Groupon bought last September that provides reservations and discounts to upscale restaurants—powers the reservations tool. The service offers reservations to about 600 restaurants throughout the United States, including tony businesses like Le Cirque in New York, says Ben McKean, the Savored founder who is now Groupon Reserve general manager.

Like OpenTable Inc.’s reservation service, consumers can search for available tables by city, party size, day and time. Search results show the available discount at particular times. For instance, a party of seven would receive 30% off its bill with a 6:30 p.m. reservation at Chicago’s Shine sushi restaurant today, but only 15% off with a 7 p.m. reservation.

Unlike Groupon’s vouchers, a consumer using the Reserve reservation platform does not have to prepay to receive a discount. After securing his reservation at Groupon.com/reserve, the restaurant applies the discount to his total bill. Discounts range from 20% to 40% off.

“Whether it’s because of a slow night or a last minute no-show, even the best restaurants have empty tables,” says Eric Lefkofsky, Groupon’s co-CEO. Reserve enables those restaurants to fill those tables, he says.

Reserve reservations are live in 10 markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Groupon plans to expand the service to more U.S. and international cities by the end of the year.

The daily-deal company, No. 65 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, says that in the near future it also plans to add beauty, product, travel and entertainment deals to Groupon Reserve, as well as to offer reservations for spas, salons and hotels.

“We’ve seen success with this model in the restaurant industry and think it can have value in other categories,” says McKean.

Groupon Reserve represents a step away from Groupon’s e-mail marketing-centric business model. During the second quarter less than 45% of its revenue stemmed from e-mail offers as consumers increasingly bought from Groupon directly via its mobile apps and by going directly to its web site, says a Groupon spokesman.

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