Gifting Smart With The Zagat Smartbox

by Shonali Burke on December 22, 2010

If you’re looking for a neat gift for foodies that’s out of the ordinary, you might want to consider the Zagat Smartbox™ “Table for Two.”

Disclosure: before I go any further, you should know that I received one of these gratis, to check out and, possibly, write about – though no promises were made. This particular package is valued at US $99, and I haven’t used it yet, but I did receive it free.

What I like about this:

It’s a great concept. Essentially, you’re giving someone you like (quite a bit, considering the price), the gift of what should be a great dining experience, since each gift card covers a three-course dinner for two at one of 35+ Zagat-rated restaurants in their area.

Recipients can select their restaurant from a booklet that comes with the gift card listing the participating restaurants based on their cuisine preference, make their reservation, and they’re all set.

You actually have some choice. I found a nice range of cuisines as well as locations (usually one of my pet peeves about “nice” restaurant offers is that they are clustered all too often on one geographic area); some of them even included a glass or two of wine.

In fact, the DC package includes several restaurants from all over the DC area, and not just in DC, which is great, because parking in DC sucks, especially around the holidays, and so does Metro.

So when you think of it, $99 is a pretty good deal for such a meal; not something you’d give to anyone, for sure, but certainly a lovely gift for someone special. Oh, and they don’t get a receipt or anything; just the card and giftbox, so they don’t know how much you’ve paid for it. Which I personally think is a nice touch.

And then, it’s Zagat. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I began my career and life in the U.S. in San Francisco, but Zagat has been my go-to guide for dining for at least a decade. I still remember filling out their surveys and feeling quite proud that I was part of the rating community… and this was way before social media hit the pavements.

So even now, social rating sites such as Yelp notwithstanding, I’m probably much more likely to go to a restaurant well-rated by Zagat than anywhere else… and as someone who loves the art of cooking as much as the taste of it, it would make me feel special to receive this from someone.

That’s what’s really smart about this, I think; it combines Zagat’s reputation with a process that should be fairly easy (again, I haven’t tried it yet).

I also like that the process is clearly explained, both in the gift box, as well as on their website. You’re told quite clearly this doesn’t include a tip, and so on, so as long as you read and follow the redemption instructions, you shouldn’t have a problem (but I will let you know if I do!).

By the way, they’re also having a Facebook contest, if you want to enter to win a TFT Smartbox for you and up to three Facebook friends  (no one pitched this to me, I found it myself and yes, I did enter – hey, I love this concept!). The contest runs until January 7, 2011.

What’s a bit of a bummer: right now, you can only order/use this package in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

There are several other Smartbox packages, too, as I saw when I clicked through to the main website, including gender-specific (“for him,” “for her”) packages, getaways, activities… so there’s quite a range to choose from.

Pretty cool concept. So now, when you’re trying to figure out what to get that someone special on your list, be it a family member, friend or client, you have another option to consider.

Image © Smartbox, used with permission

Women Grow Business editor Shonali Burke is the award-winning principal of Shonali Burke Consulting, which specializes in “integrated communication to the nth degree.” In other words, she turns your communication conundrums into community cool. Featured on BNET as The Startup Storyteller, she also publishes Waxing UnLyrical under the watchful eyes of Chuck, Suzy Q. and Lola, her three rescue dogs. Her long-suffering husband has accepted that Shonali can most often be found on Twitter.

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