Although she’s in a relationship, 36-year-old Nikki Assavathorn is very much involved in the dating world, as she owns and operates MeetNLunch; a matchmaking service that brings busy professional singles together… over lunch!
How did you get into the matchmaking business?
I was 25 years old when I founded MeetNLunch, back in 2006. I discovered that there were many successful and eligible Thai professionals who were singles, and I’ve always liked connecting people. Back then, there were no dating agencies in Thailand that fulfilled the need of local professionals who were often too busy to date. The company took off from there, providing secure and discreet personalized dating and matchmaking services. I am also Thailand’s first matchmaker to be certified by the New York based Matchmaking Institute. In 2015, MeetNLunch was acquired by the ‘Lunch Actually Group’ with presence in other four countries in Asia—including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.
Who are the people that seek out your services?
Our clientele are working professionals in their early 30s to late 40s; mainly locals but we do have a number of expats too. These people want a genuine connection, but are often extremely busy with their careers or have limited social circles due to their demanding work schedules. Because of this, they like the personalized service that we offer, as we do all the work for them. All our clients have to do is show up and enjoy the date!
What advantages do you offer over using a dating app like Tinder?
Online dating may be convenient, but it can be frustrating at times because you never know whether the other person you’re talking to online is really the person they claim to be. With us, clients can feel safe and secure because we meet and screen each member in person and verify their identities before we sign them up and send them out on dates. We have a stringent verification process, and because of this I’d say that we only accept about 10 percent of the 200 to 300 people who register to use MeetNLunch every day. Our service prices range from B20,000 to B300,000, which helps to screen out those who are not serious about relationships. We also help in handpicking the most suitable match for each client, so you don’t waste a lot of time and effort screening through unsuitable matches like you would in other traditional online dating services.
So why is lunch better than dinner?
Meeting over lunch for a date offers the perfect amount of time for both parties to get to know each other. It’s not too short or too long. If they are interested in getting to know each other better, after the initial introduction and chat, they can exchange contacts and make plans for a second date. If they don’t click, they can always call the date off gracefully by citing work, without having to worry about finding an excuse. It’s also more casual for a first-date setting and doesn’t have the awkwardness of the date being dragged on after the meal.
Do you choose the lunch venue or does the client?
We ask our members for their food preferences, such as if they like Japanese, Thai, or Western food. We then select a venue that seems most convenient to both parties, and we also check with the matched members to see if the venue suits them. If both parties are agreeable to the venue, only then do we proceed to make a reservation. If one client has a strong preference for a certain restaurant, we can also suggest it to the other party to see if they’re agreeable. Personally, I think one of the best venues in Bangkok for a romantic lunch is Patom Organic Living on Sukhumvit Soi 49.
What is your success rate so far?
As part of the Asia-wide dating company Lunch Actually Group, in 2018 we have already arranged 100,000+ dates, and also have 3,000+ marriages under our belt. But we don’t measure our success rate by the number of marriages or relationships (as not all our clients get back to us and inform us of their successful relationship). What we measure is how satisfied our client is at the end of every date, and we are happy to know that 85 percent of our members rate their matches as satisfactory to excellent.
What does the future hold?
In terms of the what the future holds for dating agencies, I’d like to think that there will be even less of a stigma to using matchmaking companies to find love. For our company’s future, there’s lots to be excited about! Currently, we are building the world’s first A.I-driven marketplace for dating and relationships called ‘Viola.AI’, to transform billions of relationships worldwide.