As consumers hunger for bargains, Web sites like KidsMealDeals.com are feeding the search for restaurant freebies and value deals. Unlike many such sites that feature consumer-generated posts, this one allows restaurants control of the content. KidsMealDeals.com targets families looking to shrink their total ticket price, offering searches by day of the week or zip code. For restaurants, the site allows operators "to get your message in front of families at the exact time that they're looking for family specials," said Chad Davis, president of KidsMealDeals.com. Operators can post kids' meal deals, from free with an adult purchase to special discounts on a certain day. Regular kids' meals prices or menus, however, are not accepted. The site offers free and for-fee listings. Free listings contain the restaurant name, location and phone number. Users are directed to call the restaurant for the specific deal. Sponsored listings contain the brand logo, address, phone, description of the kids' meal deal as well as links to the restaurant Web site and Google Maps. Those listings also show up first in the site's search results. How it works Although restaurants can have their listings created by KidsMealDeals.com phone or field representatives, the site is designed so that operators can post deals quickly on their own, Davis said. Operators follow user-friendly prompts to input their information, with the option to upgrade the listing to a paid subscription for $19.99 month, payable by credit card. Consumers can suggest restaurants to post but cannot make them themselves. Once a restaurant's listing is approved, it remains on the site indefinitely. Sponsored listings maintain their logo and links month by month, based on the continuation of the subscription.
Many of the postings, which contain specific addresses, are made by individual owners or franchise groups. Some small regional chains have listings for each of their locations, but no major brands have created chain-wide posts yet, Davis said. KidsMealDeals.com was not able to provide a breakdown of the number of restaurants by segment, but several pizza restaurants have listings on the site, including Patrizio's Pizza, Pasta & Vino in Plano, Texas, and Hometown Pizza in Louisville, Ky. Building traffic Davis said sponsored listings provide the most return for operators because they receive more hits because their prominence in the site's search results. The default search is by zip code, and users can also search by city and state, day of the week or mileage radius. Search by cuisine is under development. Sponsors also receive a basic report that lists the number of hits the site has received as well as the number of hits the individual page within the site has received. Sponsored listings also receive mentions on KidsMealDeals.com's social media sites, including Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. The site's Twitter account, @KidsMealDeals, has more than 9,200 followers, which drives even more traffic to the site. Davis said KidsMealDeals.com's site traffic has grown 500 percent in its first year, with traffic continuing to build as more brands post deals on the site. "If you're a restaurant owner, and you want to portray value â€¦ it's a great resource," he said.
Some other sites that post kids' meal deals: Coupondivas.com/kids-eat-free — Consumer posts, listed by day of the week with brand logo. Occasionally states deal is limited to a certain area. www.kidseatfree.com — Consumer posts, search by state, listing contains address, deal and any restrictions. www.frugalliving.tv/free-stuff/kids-eat-free.html — List of deals by day, text only. www.allkidseatfree.com — Consumer and restaurant postings; site solicits banner ads and local online advertising; listing by state or day of week.
Christa is editor of QSRweb.com and contributes to FastCasual.com and PizzaMarketplace.com. She has experience in the restaurant industry as well as 15 years as a journalist.