Tag Archive: The Restaurant Show

  1. The Restaurant Show, Business Bootcamp, PR for Restaurants

    PR seminar picKnow who you are and communicate that message to the right audience, advised public relations industry experts at a panel discussion hosted by OpenTable at The Restaurant Show’s Business Bootcamp on Wednesday, 10th October.

    Participating on the panel was Gemma Bell, Gemma Bell PR; Nicky Hancock, Sauce Communications; and Caroline Warwick, Crisp Media.

    Defining PR

    “Public relations is fundamentally about communication. It is a tool for communication,” explained Gemma Bell, opening the conversation.

    “It is how your restaurant is perceived by the public,” added Caroline Warwick.

    “Each individual restaurant needs to know who they are and who their audience is. Then they can determine their unique selling point,” said Nicky Hancock. “Look at the big picture: the trends and landscape,” she added.

    Knowing your product

    Know who your clientele is before opening. You need to visualise your successful day and communicate that, advised Gemma Bell. “We understand how to reach the customers you want in your restaurant through the right media,” said added.

    Sometimes it’s really good to create a story, but you don’t want it to appear contrived. Look at what’s going on in the restaurant world – you don’t want it to be cheesy, advised Nicky Hancock.

    “Don’t push something if it doesn’t come naturally to your restaurant,” added Gemma Bell.

    Working with a PR agency

    “There are different agencies for you,” said Gemma Bell. Remember to do your research and call around, added Nicky Hancock.

    “Most PR companies will be honest about what they can deliver,” said Caroline Warwick.

    For restaurants thinking about doing their own public relations Nicky Hancock advised, “look at what you can do yourself: create a website with updated photos, social media (set up Twitter and Facebook), contact local hotels, speak to local businesses.”

    When working with bloggers, a PR agency can advise which are most credible. “You don’t have to give away free meals unless you see that these guys are good and their reaching the right audience” said Gemma Bell.

    Creating buzz

    “Be creative,” advised Caroline Warwick. “Be realistic and honest – don’t try too hard,” added Gemma Bell.

    Public Relations has changed so much, the panel noted. Online is very important, including YouTube, and Twitter they added.

    “Food critics are hugely instrumental for the opening of a restaurant,” said Nicky Hancock. “You have one shot. I personally agree that if you’re good and you get a bad review you’re likely fine, but if you’re a bad restaurant that gets a bad review, that could be devastating,” she added.

    However, “Don’t rely on critics to PR your restaurant,” cautioned Gemma Bell. Lifestyle press is also very important for reaching the right clientele, she explained.

    3 common mishaps to avoid:

    • Don’t launch before you’re ready, said Caroline Warwick. Wait until you’re confident it’s right.
    • Don’t bombard journalists from every angle, added Nicky Hancock.
    • When a critic comes in, don’t try to comp their meal, said Gemma Bell. Critics pay attention to tables around them, added Nicky Hancock.

    3 top tips from the panelists:

    • Get decent photography, advised Caroline Warwick.
    • Be clear who you are and what you do. Don’t get pushy with journalists, added Gemma Bell.
    • Talk to your customers, Nicky Hancock advised.


  2. The Restaurant Show: Bootcamp Seminar, The Digital Forum

    Business Bootcamp - Making sense of digital world

    Use fewer digital platforms well instead of attempting to engage on every new site or application was the message to restaurateurs navigating the digital world from industry insiders at a panel discussion hosted by OpenTable at The Restaurant Show’s Business Bootcamp on Tuesday, 9th October.

    Participating on the panel was Eimear Lambe, Twitter; Matt Kirby, Fishbowl; and Mike Xenakis, OpenTable.

    “Pick a few and do them well” said Eimear Lambe, setting the framework for the conversation. Don’t set up “digital graveyards”, she added.

    Simplicity is key: It’s about what works for you amidst all of the channels, advised the panel.

    “Try out a few applications and see where you’re most comfortable,” commented Mike Xenakis.

    Using Twitter well

    The 12:1 ratio is a good rule of thumb – for every tweet that pushes out information about the company, twelve should add value to the readers, explained Eimear Lambe.

    Think about what your followers would be interested in reading and ask yourself whether they would share that information with others, added Mike Xenakis.

    Day to day management

    Some restaurants share the responsibility of managing digital media, the panelists noted. Most successful operators do delegate the role to someone internally, added Matt Kirby.

    “Find little bits of time throughout the day to respond and make your tweets a dialogue. At a minimum, respond,” said  Eimear Lambe. She advised modifying your communications approach depending on the platform.

    Email is a great format to measure results and broadcast messages. The optimum time to send email correspondence is 4pm on Thursdays, advised Matt Kirby.


    The massive shift to mobile devices was acknowledged by the panel. There is a big difference in the type of content shared on a mobile platform, they highlighted.

    A benefit of mobile is the added element of location. A local busines can tap into more customers this way, said Matt Kirby.

    As for measuring the impact, Google analytics is useful, as is creating trackable campaigns, noted Eimear Lambe.

    “The move online has allowed for better measurement: you can see what people click and open through online campaigns,” said Matt Kirby.

    However, it is important that this marketing activity translates to reservations, said Mike Xenakis.

    “Whether or not you’re there, the conversations are happening about you. It’s a question of if you want to get in and shape that communication,” Eimear Lambe explained.

    3 top tips from the panelists:

    1. Pull out your mobile device and look at how your restaurant is displayed. Do a search of your restaurant on Twitter, said Mike Xenakis.
    2. Do simple things like make sure you’re listed on UrbanSpoon, Google Places and TripAdvisor, added Matt Kirby.
    3. People are already talking about your business, join the conversation, advised Eimear Lambe. Download Twitter’s guide to best practices at, under “case studies”.



  3. The Restaurant Show: Business Bootcamp, Consumer Trends

    consumer trendsMobile devices are reshaping consumer behaviour online and restaurateurs can tap into this by ensuring their online presence is mobile-equipped, it was revealed on Monday, 8th October at a panel discussion hosted by OpenTable at The Restaurant Show’s Business Bootcamp.

    Participating on the panel was Paul Reich, Yelp; Polly Vincent, TripAdvisor; John Paasonen, American Express; and Simon Huesser, OpenTable.

    “Smartphones have changed the game and delivered a search engine in your pocket,” said Paul Reich of Yelp, opening the conversation. He noted that many searches are now taking place within an application rather than through the mobile site of search engines.

    Web 3.0 is about mobile and going to where the customer is at, added John Paasonen. The traditional purchase funnel of awareness, consideration, trial and purchase has changed. It’s now awareness, evaluation, purchase, enjoyment and advocacy creating more opportunity for restaurants to engage throughout the funnel, he said.

    62 per cent of restaurant searches made on Valentine’s Day last year were done on a mobile device, added Simon Huesser. Mobile introduces more immediacy to the decision making process.

    Online reviews

    Reviews can help people make informed decisions online, it was discussed. The trust element is higher within certain applications, especially when the reviews are certified.

    It used to be that you would speak to someone for advice on where to dine, but applications have changed that process, the panel noted.  However, “anonymity is a problem with trust on the internet,” Paul Reich said, “an issue that Yelp addresses head-on”.

    TripAdvisor has integrated with Facebook in order to increase the trust element with reviews.

    What should restaurants do?

    Restaurateurs should claim their pages on various sites, add content and respond to reviews, the panel suggested. When adding content, photos are essential.

    “Some people are reading emails on mobile devices, think about what environment your messages are being received in,” said Simon Huesser of OpenTable. He then recommended that the audience check what their website looks like on a mobile device and make sure people can easily book.

    Setting up Google Alerts to stay informed every time the restaurant is mentioned is also a great way to monitor, suggested Polly Vincent.

    John Paasonen reminded the audience that they can “be grateful that some things have not changed – restaurants are still about great food and great service. The important thing is to make it easy to do business with you,” he suggested.

    “If you provide fantastic service, that message will filter through to each site [and application] and it will get across quickly,” added Paul Reich.