Last week, I went along to a discussion hosted by The Caterer in collaboration with Google. After a thorough perusal of the buffet breakfast, I sat down to listen to Harry Walker of Google share insights relating to the casual dining industry.
Perhaps this will come as no surprise, but Harry began by emphasising the importance of the internet and mobile technology on the way people are eating out today. A few noteworthy statistics:
25-34 year olds are most likely to eat out 80% of the time
90% users regularly use TripAdvisor
73% guests are more likely to book a TripAdvisor awarded restaurant
50% of internet searches now come from a mobile device
The above figure rises to 62% for restaurant searches
Although restaurants (and bars and hotels) have a love-hate relationship with TripAdvisor that most probably skews more towards hate, it’s obvious that we cannot afford to ignore it as a key source of information for our guests. Nor can we ignore the importance of easy to navigate, mobile optimised websites.
Harry outlined three key factors that Google believes are determining the way that people eat out (related to internet searches):
Discovery is a theme that we talk about a lot at Gorgeous. Today’s guest dines out frequently, and they tire easily. We actively seek new experiences that will excite and delight us: Harry stated that 38% of restaurant searches are now generic e.g. ‘best Italian in London’ or ‘Brooklyn brunch’. We’re open to finding the next big thing.
Time – apparently none of us have it! According to Google, society has become spur of the moment: 2 in 5 restaurant searches are looking for somewhere to go right now.
Location is a key search factor, and is closely linked in with discovery and time. Searches that included the words ‘near me’ are 72x higher than they were in 2011, and have risen 35x faster than searches related to price or cuisine type. So today’s diner wants to discover something new, right now, near them. Price, brand and even cuisine are of less importance to many.
What does the mean for restaurants? It means that being there is more important than ever. Inclusion in blog posts and ‘must go’ lists, being at the forefront of Google search results through effective SEO, providing key information in an easy to navigate format: it all makes a huge difference in bringing people in, after which time you can focus on bringing them back again.
Harry’s parting words to us? “Be useful”: know your online audience, anticipate what they need, and be there.
By Laura Condon
Cover image credit: Nandini Poddar