Recently, we had the chance to chat with Ferdinand Sutanto, Co-Founder and CEO of Club Alacarte, Indonesia’s first premier dining membership app, which gives users the opportunity to discover buy-one-get-one dining privileges across Jakarta and which currently has around 160 restaurant partners.
According to Ferdinand, Club Alacarte is a concept born out of an existing concept in the offline world. If we look at five-star hotel memberships, they usually offer perks and dining discounts for people who join. So Ferdinand thought: why can’t he bring this existing concept to independent restaurants throughout Jakarta?
In this digital era, Ferdinand saw an opportunity to turn an offline model into an online model with which customers could use a mobile app to show their membership and redeem their buy-one-get-one offers.
Ferdinand said that the target market for Club Alacarte is all foodies in Jakarta. He further added, more specifically, that given that Club Alacarte is an app-based smartphone product, it is targeted more at people who are tech-savvy, so it includes people who are in their early 20s through to their late 30s.
Word of mouth
When asked how Ferdinand is marketing the app, he said that principally it will be word-of-mouth marketing for the simple reason that he is a believer in the product. He explained that with only Rp600,000 per year, users can get access to the membership with a return in potential savings reaching 100 times that. With so many potential savings, Ferdinand truly believes that if customers can derive enjoyment and great value from their product, they will tell their friends about it.
Social media presence
As for social media, Ferdinand maintained that having a strong social media presence in the market is important, so the company is active on Instagram and Facebook. However, it also recently developed an offline-to-online advertising model in which it develops a starter kit for customers that can be bought in coffee shops or partner merchants of Club Alacarte. The Club Alacarte starter kit will provide an access code to customers that they can enter in the app and which will allow them to get premium membership.
Benefits to restaurant partners and users
In a nutshell, Club Alacarte offers its customers buy-one-get-one dining offers that users can redeem at Club Alacarte’s listed partner restaurants. Users can also enjoy different dining experiences and opportunities to explore different restaurants. According to Ferdinand, it’s comparable to a 50 per cent discount.
As for the restaurants, benefits include increased traffic, increased cross-selling of menu offerings, and bringing in new customers to dine. Ferdinand further added that Club Alacarte will be an additional marketing channel because it can be tracked and quantified with no cost incurred until a customer actually walks in.
New business concepts will always face challenges. Ferdinand said he remembers how difficult it was in the beginning to convince the first few restaurants to try and sign up with the app. Most restaurants questioned the new business model and Ferdinand said that the only things that made them overcome their reservations was perseverance and the firm belief in how the business model could help both users and restaurants. Currently, Club Alacarte has more than 160 restaurant partners in Jakarta alone and more people are contacting Ferdinand wanting to be a member on Club Alacarte’s platform.
Future of culinary and food apps in Southeast Asia
Ferdinand sees that in developing countries or cities, people are craving more convenience in their daily lives, so express delivery is in demand, and thus culinary apps are shifting in that direction. As for Club Alacarte, Ferdinand chooses to look at things differently. He believes in dining as an enjoyable social experience, and Club Alacarte is doing just that as it drives more traffic to the restaurants so people can enjoy dining in its entirety.
To find out more, watch the video in which Ferdinand gives you a step-by step guide to how to use the app.