Phani Raj Kuchibhotla

Curious Curator

Zomato for Highways

I like what Zomato is doing with their Product. I like their mission “to ensure that nobody has a bad meal“[1]. Zomato today serves millions of users across cities/countries. It is my go to app to find a place to eat, when I go to new place and of course also when I am at home to learn about and try new places. This all works good when you are in a city/country served by Zomato.

However it gets complicated to find GOOD places to eat, when you are traveling, even more, if you are a vegetarian and look for Vegetarian only restaurants. I wish there is a way if they can map the BEST restaurants on highways in India . Given their resources/expertise and manpower, i believe they can do it.

Personally, we have had many long trips where we had no meals for the entire journey, as we were not able to find a good place to eat (basically judging a place from the looks of it while driving). Sometimes we were driving so fast and miss places that seemed good by our gut, but too late to stop as we already are ahead of the place and it’s not possible to come back, other than talking a lengthy U turn . This means, we get to eat only at end of the journey at destination.

What I am hoping now is a service like Zomato with reviews/ratings/picture & menu,which I can refer before my journey to pick places I can stop by, for some good food.

What’s wrong with Google?

In India, we have a lot of highways to dhabha’s/eateries poping up randomly. Main problem with Google is that, it doesnt have the vetted basic information that Zomato offers, the information on Google maps is not curated and restaurant owners on Highways don’t claim their ownership on Google.

The other advantage to Zomato compared to Google is the way they combine places at a location[2].

Similarly they can group the Food places( may be a restaurant/ dhaba/ coffeehouse) clustered at a particular location near a petrol bunk or a rest stop.

What’s involved ?

There are quite a few steps involved.

  • Identifying the most active highways and getting the initial data.
  • Driving thru the entire distance at least once a quarter to make sure the listings are up-to date.
  • Educating the food place owners about advantages of zomato and have them claim the ownership and keep their listings up-to date.
  • Educating end users- their blog should be easily able to do that.

Presenting the data

In current scenario, it’s pretty easy to categorize as per city & area. However in the case of highways presenting the data based on location names may not be intuitive to users. This needs some deep UX study.

  • Should the customers be asked from<> to locations to search the restaurants? Something on this lines.

Monetization

I am guessing their current business model(sponsored listings) can be applied here also. But profitability need some analysis for sure. Is there enough ROI for the effort involved get the men on ground to have the first phase of listings on site. I think once they do POC for one selected highway, other food place owners will voluntarily come forward to list their places. So getting the thing moving is the first hurdle.

Closing

I don’t know if someone is doing this in India or any where in the world. But a service like this for sure will help a lot of travelers.

References

[1] https://www.zomato.com/about

[2] https://www.zomato.com/mumbai/restaurants/in/palladium-mall-lower-parel