This week marked the New York launch of Google Offers, the Internet megalith’s contribution to the jam-packed realm of restaurant (and service) deals. "Huzzah!" shouted the coupon-wielding consumers who haven’t paid full price for a meal since 2008, the year Groupon launched. But what, we wonder, are restaurant managers shouting? We checked in with a few Google Offers pioneers — AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar and Crif Dogs (Pommes Frites, Baci Gelato, and RBC NYC declined to comment) — to find out what it’s like behind the scenes of the competitive coupon game.
"Every other day, I’m getting e-mails from so many people at so many [daily deal] companies," said Zaf Sevimcok, whose AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar had a coupon available this past Tuesday, Google Offers’ first day in town. "I don’t even know the names of most of them." But everyone knows Google’s name, so when they called him about a month ago, he saw an opportunity for everyone to know his business’s name. "It doesn’t matter if they don’t buy it," he said of the $10-worth-of-items-for-$5 coupon that 134 people purchased that day. "Because millions of people will see it and be aware that AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar is here, in midtown."
"I was a little nervous about it at first," Crif Dogs’ Justina Ward said of partnership with Google Offers, the first deals site she’s ever worked with. "But they turned out to be so helpful and nice to us." Things went so well, in fact, that she’s now coordinating offers with two other sites.
But maybe she should reconsider: "We didn’t have a good experience with Scoutmob," Sevimcok said. "We’ve also worked with Living Social, but it also didn’t do well."
Or, rather, it simply worked too well for customers: "The thing is, everybody in New York follows all these discount sites," says Sevimcok. "But they’re people who are getting so many deals every day that they come and use it, and then they never come back." Still, he’s much more optimistic about this go-round now that the numbers are in his favor: "[With past offers], we saw that people weren’t spending over their deals. If their deal was for $50 of food, the would come with their friend and only get $50 of food … With Google Offers, our special is only for $10. So, you know, we believe that people will spend more than that."