Online services improving the fine dining experience in India get competitive

Local companies offering restaurant reviews, information, ability to order and book tables online are growing.

Indians are opting to go through a restaurant's menu and book a table from any computer.

As cheaper yet feature-rich smartphones proliferate the market, users turning to their phones for recommendations will increase. Restaurant recommendations and location services complement each other. Widely used location service Foursquare (with Foursquare Explore) and Nokia is location offering aren't the only players. Startups in India are capitalizing on the fine dining experience in the country.

India's OpenTable (online table reservation), Book Ur Table has partnered with local search engine JustDial to expand. Users searching on JustDial will now be able to make restaurant reservations from JustDial's website. A new option will appear on the restaurant's details page opening Book Ur Table's reservation page. Book Ur Table currently operates in 10 cities and according to Anupam Saxena at Medianama, the service has 3,000 restaurants and close to 200,000 users. Book Ur Table's website allows users to place orders for delivery or takeaway making it a one-stop website for your palate. The service lacks sourced reviews which will make someone like me refer to other websites like Burrp or Zomato.

Zomato made headlines a few weeks back when they announced their foray into events (like Burrp). Zomato's interface is similar to Burrp's but is more visually appealing. The website offers images of restaurant menus, venue, reviews and maps. The images seem to be taken by Zomato's team and not crowd sourced. Foursquare's success can be attributed to crowd sourcing, the model chosen by Zomato is quite the opposite.

UK based Just-Eat launched their Indian operations by acquiring HungryZone in early 2011. Just Eat allows table reservations and home delivery options. With operations in 3 Indian cities (Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai), the website is attractive but lacks restaurant partners. Both Zomato and Just-Eat provide restaurant operation hours which is crucial information missing on Book Ur Table. Domino's Pizza was among the first restaurants to offer online ordering and delivery in India. Operated by the parent company, managing menus becomes easy which will be a challenge for Zomato, Just-Eat and Book Ur Table. Having said that, the competition in the space makes a strong case for e-commerce in India and consumers adopting Internet services for their offline activities.