New App Rewards Diners for Eating at Participating Restaurants

Here’s the elevator pitch for the new Seated app:

Download the app to your smartphone. Use the app to book at a participating restaurant. Dine. Earn a $15 gift card from Amazon, Starbucks, or Uber.

That’s pretty compelling. Naturally, when you dig into the details, things turn out to be a bit more complicated.

Among the Seated terms and conditions:

  • To qualify for the gift card, there must be two or more people dining. Both parties must order meals, not just drinks.
  • The same restaurant may only be booked once during any 30-day period.
  • Participating restaurants are currently located in only 15 cities: New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, D.C, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Denver, and Seattle.
  • Participating restaurants are high-end. Don’t expect to get a $15 gift card for a $12 meal.
  • Booking times are limited. Rewards may only be offered for early or late seatings.
  • As loyalty currencies go, gift cards are among the least desirable. Too often they go unused.

From a business standpoint, the requirements and limitations make perfect sense. The service is designed to help restaurants increase business during off-peak times, and to do so cost-effectively. That means that users must be prepared to make some compromises in exchange for the rewards.

Whether a $15 gift card makes those compromises worthwhile is the question.

Reader Reality Check

Well, is a $15 gift card worth the required compromises?

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

This article first appeared on, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.

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