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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.

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