Buzz starts on the web

Buzz starts on the web

Watching the recent events in North Africa makes one especially conscious of the strength and value of the Internet. More than word of mouth or TV, the Internet with texts, email, visuals and multiple-use interfaces seems to be at the center of the communication across wide ranging geography and cultures. This makes one realize how important communication is and how things are communicated between people to achieve its purpose. 

My company does a lot of work around the world defining who and what the market is for a hotel’s restaurant. We call it market-based design, and try to identify the market drivers and the people who would come to the restaurant. Who is the market, and what characteristics do they have that can be translated into a concept and design, making for a successful restaurant that out competes local restaurants?

Where I am going with this? Your website.

We recently responded to an RFP from an international hotel brand, so I went to their individual hotel websites to view their restaurants. I found only generic pictures of dining rooms, no menus and no sense of what the restaurants were about. In other words, there was no sex appeal and no information other than that they had restaurants.

In the RFP they also volunteered who they thought their primary competitors were in their trade area. Guess what? They were all hotel restaurants! In addition, the hotel is in the central business district of a very large city amongst many great independent restaurants.

Rule #1: Anyone selling food and beverage in your trade area is your competitor.

Rule #2: If you want to compete, you have to compete on the same field as the best in the restaurant world, not just the hotel world.

Rule #3: People care about exciting dining experiences whether they are dining in a hotel or not. Conversely, just because your restaurant is in a hotel doesn’t mean you can’t be an exciting restaurant – and that starts with your website.

Take a look at these websites and see how you stack up:

And if you think this is just an aberration of western developed nations here is one from Baku, Azerbaijan:

Don’t forget, you need substance as well as style. There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a restaurant website in search of the address or phone number and having to jump through hoops to get to it.

I found this amusing article, which parodies user’s frustrations about restaurant websites. Make sure you’re not making one of these mistakes:, too.