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Philadelphia restaurants offer student discounts via Treat app

Copabanana, Metropolitan Bakery, Subway and other Philadelphia restaurants are partnering with Treat to offer deals to local students in an effort to make dining more affordable.

This past Friday three students at the University of Pennsylvania launched the Treat mobile application to provide a replacement for cardboard punch cards and offer fixed deals for students at select restaurants in Philadelphia. The app costs $4.99 and provides students with 10 percent off in addition to the virtual punch card.

“Our strategy was to release Treat to the UPenn student population at the beginning of the school year as everyone arrives on campus and is getting ready for the exciting year ahead,” said Raphael Pransky, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Treat, Philadelphia.

“The five days prior to the start of classes at Penn are called New Student Orientation, or NSO, and the launch of our full-fledged marketing campaign coincides with the start of NSO,” he said. “We’ll have sales representatives decked out in Treat t-shirts at the busiest spots on campus, we’ll be giving away free apparel, and we’re starting to promote our Facebook and Twitter pages.

“We hope to build momentum quickly and continue to drive sales throughout the first few months of the year, which will allow us to not only add more partnered restaurants but also expand to Drexel and other nearby universities.”

Mobile punch card
Treat translates the student discount card to mobile to make saving money on food easier.

To register for Treat, consumers must have a .edu email address to prove that they are students. The app offers three different structures for discounts at more than twenty participating restaurants.

The first is the basic structure that provides a fixed discount at select restaurants.

The second is a loyalty model that lets students save more the more they visit a restaurant.

The third option lets students simply use the app as a punch card, where they earn discounts after purchasing a set amount of items.

Treat is currently available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play for $4.99. Students gain access to deals for the year by paying that cost.

According to Mr. Pransky, the cost is easily worth the value.

“Treat users will save a minimum of 10 percent whenever they visit a partnered restaurant, of which there are already 20, with many more on the way,” Mr. Pransky said. “Penn students will quickly make back their initial investment of $4.99 and will enjoy savings at Treat-partnered restaurants all year.”

The app has replaced the physical student discount cards that UniEats previously offered.

These discount cards were sold for $12-$15, and a few thousand students bought them, per Mr. Pransky. Treat, therefore, decided that $4.99 was a reasonable price.

Increased business
In catering to the students at the University of Pennsylvania, Treat partnered with restaurants in University City and Center City, but the company plans to expand to other locations in the future.

Within the year, Treat plans to expand to other universities in Philadelphia, and then the company will look to other cities as well.

Treat offers restaurants the ability to attract more college students and boost in-store foot traffic.

Additionally, the app will provide restaurants with analytics about their customers who are on treat.

“Treat will provide restaurants with a large amount of exposure to an eager and hungry audience of students,” Mr. Pransky said.

“Students new to Penn and without existing-dining habits will quickly grow fond of discount-offering restaurants that have partnered with Treat, while restaurants’ existing customers will become even more fond of the Treat-partnered restaurants thanks to the discount offered by the mobile application,” he said.

“We believe students will pick Treat-partnered restaurants over their non-partnering counterparts and as a result will fall into the habit of visiting the restaurants at which they are offered a discount.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York