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A special occasion is coming up next week. There are seven in our family, and the only one who is genuinely high-maintenance is turning 40.

After making a breakfast booking for the entire whanau and ensuring the afternoon drinks were sorted, I was still left to organise the dinner celebrations. So today I did what 92% of restaurant customers do and did some online research on my phone.

Through my own knowledge, and through a recommendation from a friend, I narrowed my search down to three restaurants. From there I went to the restaurant websites and I had a thorough look through their Menu, Gallery … and all clues as to the atmosphere and efficiency of each hospitality business.

I disregarded the first restaurant, even though it was highly recommended by a friend – it wasn’t for us; while the Menu looked okay, the atmosphere didn’t look right in the Gallery photos. It was also a difficult site to navigate. The second site impressed me so much I immediately made an online reservation which was confirmed by an email seconds later. I did go to the third site – just to double check I hadn’t made a mistake. The third place looked good, but I could tell that my gut reaction was right with the second. I made an emotional choice – not unusual – marketing experts tell us that up to 95% of consumer choices are emotional not rational. I don’t remember looking at the prices!

I went back to my chosen restaurant’s site and made a couple of small requests from the Manager for my high-maintenance family member … and I received a warm and obliging email within half an hour.

Now, of course, the big day isn’t until next week so I can’t tell you how the night went yet, but so far I’ve committed myself to spend a stupid amount of money all because of a restaurant website … whether Mr High-Maintenance will be impressed by the entire experience, or not, will have to be the next instalment of this common story.

But here is what I do know

Chadwick Martin Bailey and SinglePlatform (at Constant Contact) claim that restaurants are the most searched industry online; that 80% of consumers want to see the Menu before they make a restaurant choice and that 75% of consumers often choose a restaurant according to the search results. Eighty One percent of people have searched for a restaurant through a phone app and 92% through a web browser – outperforming other highly searched industries such as retail stores and hotels. Perhaps most telling is the claim that 84% of consumers are likely to look at more that one restaurant online before choosing where to eat.

Brandon Hull, the Vice President of Main Path Marketing at claims that website marketing is preferential to the “outposts” of social media. The website is restaurant owned and you control the rules, you can also use it as a powerful tracking tool with the use of something like Google Analytics for restaurants. It also provides a space to create a ‘culture’ for your business. Your website showcases; customer experience, discount offers, advertises partnerships and community projects, Happy Hour specials, and sustainability visions … as well as providing up-to-date Menu options and automatic reservation services. Perhaps most over-looked, is your website’s ability to attract the best quality staff to your business.

While most of the marketing and consumer information available remains American or British (SinglePlatform is based in New York); nevertheless, all this highlights the importance of ensuring that your website is an effective ‘face’ for your restaurant. Social media is important, but not at the expense of your website.

At the very least do your research; who are the most successful restaurateurs around the world and what do their websites look like?

Have you been asking your customers why they chose your business over others?

An outstanding website may initially be high-maintenance, but like our soon to be 40-year-old it will encourage significant amounts of money to be spent.


26/01/2016 Mrs Hospitality