Groupon is offering a new product called Groupon Reserve, where you make your reservation through the Groupon site and a discount is automatically applied to your check. There’s no pre-purchase required, nor running out to use a Groupon on its expiring day.
This product is currently running in DC, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, and Miami.
This seems like a better execution of what Living Social tried for a while. You’d have to pre-buy your reservation, show up, have a voucher (either on paper or on your phone), and if you didn’t go to the restaurant during a time period, the money was refunded to your card. It was confusing for the customer and for the restaurant, and I can’t imagine it was a picnic to manage from LivingSocial’s end.
This is similar to what Tixs4Tonight does with reservations in Vegas–which I highly recommend. For a short wait on a line, you can book reservations with a steep discount.
With the Groupon system, you don’t have to wait in a line outside the heat in these cities. You can book from the comfort of your home.