Thursday, March 22, 2012

Battle of Pay for Play Deals: BlackboardEats VIP vs Savored

Today BlackboardEats serves up a brand new VIP program - they've revamped it since the debacle about a year or so ago (asking fans to pay either a 'nominal' $1 fee for each discount passcode, or an annual fee of $25) - the model was not well received, and eventually eliminated.

That BlackboardEats was free, was a key reason it's been one of my favorite food-focused deal sites, and why I prefer it to Savored.  But do the perks of the new BBE VIP program justify the $25? 

Here's a look:

To avoid public outrage, the standard BlackboardEats site will still offer free passcodes with its 24 hour window to get them.  In addition, the BlackboardEats VIP program offers:
  • Get passcodes at any time during run of special (vs. 24 hour window)
  • Personal Passcode - passcode stays the same no matter the offer, so you don't have to remember / print (or say to the server) different passcodes
  • Extended Redemption - get 1 month longer to redeem codes, "as often as possible"
  • Virtual VIP card - code appears on BBE app so you don't have to say the code aloud
  • Pre-sale on special events
Is all this worth $25? The biggest true values (vs gravy) it seems would be 'get passcodes anytime' during promotion window, extended redemption period, and pre-sale on special events.  Personally, I check deal sites every day, especially BBE every Tuesday when codes are issued - and since codes are free on the standard site, for me there isn't any risk of 'missing out' on a code, I'll just download every one.  So that really leaves extended redemption as a true value, and pre-sale on special events.  But it's not clear at this point what those would involve - as the wording about the 1 month extension being "as often as possible" is sort of vague, and no examples of special events are given (with no point of reference as I don't believe BBE had hosted / offered a lot - any? - events in the past).

Savored on the other hand has a clear explanation:
  • Prepay $10: make a reservation through their site or OpenTable to get 30% automatically taken off your bill at the restaurant of your choice (from their list of participating restaurants) when you show up for your reservation
  • Conveniently partnered with OpenTable, so you can just choose and pay for your deal while you're already at OT booking your meal.
But, the offer is not nearly as attractive as 'free'.  And you have to commit to a date/time when you're going to use the deal.  Cancellation/ changes are only available up to 2 hours before the reservation time.  The list of participating restaurants also isn't very large or exciting (vs BBE). You'd also have to order at least $35 worth of food to make it worth your while (breakeven on your $10 fee) though this shouldn't be hard at the higher end restaurants. You do have to pay the fixed cost of $10 every time you dine though - whereas with BBE VIP - the $25 annual fee can be defrayed:  your per meal costs goes down the more you dine, or the higher value of your meal (you can easily make your money back in savings - for example after 2 x $42 meals = $25.20 in savings or 3 x $30 meals = $27 in savings - the benefit over BBE standard of course being a possibly longer time to use the codes)

Disclaimer: I've only used Savored once, through a friend - and she had to remind the server to get the discount - as I've never had the inclination to pay for the discount and feel like I would rather go where the free deals are (with BBE standard).  And I haven't had plans to go to the restaurants participating in their network.  But the restaurants they do have are higher end - ones you won't see often on a 'group buy deal' site - like Campanile or Asia de Cuba.

Here's how the deals break down head-to-head:
As mentioned, the BBE VIP service just launched so it remains to be seen what the value of their offerings are; and I have yet to try Savor myself.

But based on program descriptions alone:

The clear winner for foodies on a budget: Blackboardeats VIP (if you're flexible with venues, and like trying new things, you get your money's worth vs. Savored if you just dine 2.5 times a year)

For those who want to eat at a specific restaurant on a specific night: Savored

What do you guys think?  Would you pay $25 for the Blackboardeats VIP program?  Does anyone out there use Savored?

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...