Ask Me is the newbie in online local search space. It differentiates itself by marrying deals, classified ads and e-commerce along with a dial-in service on a single web platform called www.askme.com. It calls itself “A disruptive new age consumer brand” which “Helps users to have access to hyper-local information 24X7”.
As food is no. 1 search category on Ask Me and happens to be a wonderfully interactive topic, to create buzz the Ask Me team has been holding meet-ups with local foodies in various cities, starting with and Jaipur. The Kolkata leg, which was the thirteenth in the series, was held on 12th July at The Corner Courtyard. A large bunch of foodies (food bloggers, Zomato reviewers, members of Facebook group Kolkata Foodies etc) gathered to attend it on the Sunday afternoon.
To make it effective, the event was designed with was more of a mix of interaction and interesting contests than one-sided brand talk. The innovative décor of the venue (recreating an old house with courtyard, where it was actually held, decorated with bookracks and nice wall pieces, with old world charm all over it) helped make it informal and let the audience feel at ease. Randeep Kaur, Senior Manager Marketing (who sent out email invitations herself) helmed the presentation and she kept joking about making the ‘boring’ presentation ‘short’. Well, boring it was not; on the contrary, colourful and informative in a precise manner.
Let’s see what’s in Ask Me for a visitor. It’s primarily a local search service, so you can search for anything like contact details of mobile phone and electronic goods dealers, salons, professional institutes, restaurants and clinics. To engage with its target audience, it has built communities of popular topics- Fashion, travel, wellness, education, gadgets and weddings. They are packed with useful information and interactivity. For example the Fashion community lets a member create lookbooks, upload blogs, images, contextual videos; Travel talks about Bollywood travel destinations, i.e. locations where popular Hindi movies were shot, travel deals; Education has expert hangouts and Wedding has planning tools. It is also a deal aggregator, so you can find select deals from various sources featuring. Visit the site to find out more.
The site lists more than 2 lakh restaurants & food joints and is present in more than 150
cities in with over 5.5 million listings. They claimed that there are many cities which were yet to have a Zomato and footprint.
To hook foodies they have soft launched a Food Ambassador programme (It’s not yet launched online). Here a foodie can write 10 fresh reviews and get a meal voucher for two and refer foodie friends to get bonus vouchers. He/ she can keep writing and getting meal/ shopping/ movie/ spa vouchers. Cool, no?
There are two ongoing series on the site-
In the Food section, there is 1000 Best places to Eat- Food experts Rocky and Mayur visit various restaurants and food joints across the country to pick names for the list of 1000. A member can upload a video review of a restaurant. If it is liked by them, the member gets a chance to meet them.
The travel section has none other than Vir Sanghvi helming The Great Indian Safari where he brings to you choicest travel destinations in and abroad which appeals to various travel needs (annual vacations to weekend gateways) and all members in the family.
The audience got served a constant supply of a no. of finger foods (mostly veg though) and mocktails during the meet, including thin crust pizza slices and chicken satay which I liked.
The cheerful emcee engaged the audience in between sessions. The topic of favourite street food and its location expectedly fetched the highest response and it had to be wrapped up as it seemed endless. I was a little amused as some of the names weren’t street food/ drink, like Doodh Cola at Balwant Singh’s Dhaba or kochuri at Putiram.
|Big reviewer on Zomato and food blogger Rajdeep talks as another big reviewer Rounak looks on|
Presentation over, chef Chayan and Surojit from the restaurant took us through a session on food plating which showed how to present food in a house party. It was followed by two rounds of a food plating contest participated by audience members.
|Food plating session on|
|Food plating contest- round 1|
|Food plating contest- round 2|
|A plate in the contest|
Another interesting contest came up next where a participant had to taste a soup just prepared by the chefs and list out its ingredients. Those with most no. correct entries won.
It ended with a small buffet with live pasta (vegetarian again!) and cakes (cheesecake and chocolate cake). I, like many, loved the cheesecake and polished off a few. It just flew off the plate whenever it was refilled.
Overall an engaging meet-up where I met new foodies and foodie friends and had a good time over food. Looking forward to the online experience.
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