So what does a hospitality consultant really expect from you on the web?
Being a hospitality consultant would suggest that I have high expectations for most dining establishments and might even be considered a “food snob”. The truth is I enjoy eating at all types of restaurants from casual fast food to fine dining. I’ll give almost any venue a shot and see it as a learning experience and to expand my knowledge as your hospitality consultant. There are a few things that will drive me to one establishment over the other, one of them being online presence. Even if you don’t have the time, money or bandwidth to get a website together – there are plenty of other ways to make a presence online.
Now that we have our smartphones within reach every second of the day, the first thing I am going to do when I approach a restaurant is “google” it. What comes up will usually make my decision as to whether or not I go inside.
As a hospitality consultant, I am always going to advise you to have a website, but I understand it might sit a little low on your to-do list…especially if your restaurant is in its later years. Having a website will always be best but if you can only afford to put together a faulty, stock-image filled avenue for your guests to fiddle with, spend your money elsewhere. Some of the most successful and beautiful restaurant websites I’ve seen have little to no content, but are clean, crisp and provide the basic information that I need – genre and a phone number (and sometimes even a menu).
If you don’t have a website, go for the next best thing – anything. Create a Facebook page, which is free, and allows you to post the same quality information that a regular website would. You can post your hours, location, menu information, photos and of course, it’s interactive. It provides a platform for past guests to post and write reviews. The most important thing about having a Facebook page though is keeping posts up to date. It’s a huge turn off to go to a restaurant’s page and see their last post was in 2011.
Twitter of course is another great site to be active on and to have an on-going conversation with your guests and others. If I go to your Twitter page, I want to see quality posts (today’s special or an employee feature), frequent but not overwhelming (think 2-5 a day) and consistent posts (again, I don’t want to see your last tweet was years ago).
I also appreciate a solid Google presence. You should take the time to make sure that Google registers your business and its location and hours. Google even now has a review feature that allows guests to update after a visit. One of the biggest impacts is having a map show up with your location on it as soon as you Google your restaurant. If that doesn’t come up, along with a lack of website – I’m going to assume you are closed or just not busy enough.
Because I am a hospitality consultant and slightly more curious than the average diner, I might slide over to the “News” tab and see who is writing about your restaurant. Creating press releases about your opening, changes in management and even upcoming events increases your web presence even more.