How Much Is It?
I was having a clear out the other day I came across quite a few reference books and a couple of dictionaries. Although a number of them had been well used in the past I realised that I hadn’t needed most of them for some considerable time. Back in the day I couldn’t imagine not having these around the house to help me answer any number of different questions and in my case help me spell sometimes the most simplest of words.
Roll forward to the present day and I like most people now rely on the internet to provide me with the answers I need. In fact the more I thought about it the more I realised how reliant I had become clicking on Google (other search tools are available I am told!) to get me the information I am looking for.
As well as for business this approach to ‘researching’ things has now become the de facto norm when it comes to our social lives. Everything I read suggests that the number of people who just turn up somewhere to eat and drink without having checked it out on line before hand is dwindling fast.
With this in mind it always surprises me when bars and particularly restaurants that often spend thousands of pounds on great looking websites then choose to limit the information they seem willing to share with you when it comes to what they are actually selling.
Are you ashamed of your food…
Although becoming less common I still come across websites, usually for pubs, which advertise that they serve ‘great food’ but then singularly don’t give you any real clue as what you are likely to encounter should you visit them. One of the reasons I have been given as to why this may be the case is that the menu changes weekly or even daily. Therefore to keep the menu up to date online would be very time consuming. My response to this is twofold. Firstly, if that is what you are doing then make a big thing about it. Celebrate it and make it a real point of difference versus other pubs or restaurants in your area. Secondly even if the specific dishes change regularly you can always provide a flavour of what you do in a more general way. Providing an example of a ‘typical’ menu is one way that other restaurants deal with a similar challenge.
Your food must be expensive…
Although not quite as bad as the above there are also still some restaurants that are happy to share with you what they are serving but actively decide not to show their prices. This seems to be particularly the case when it comes to those operating at the higher end of the market. If this is being done to help communicate a degree of exclusivity i.e. “if you need to ask the price, then you probably can’t afford to eat here”, while I may not agree with it, I can understand it as part of a marketing and communication strategy.
The watch out of course is if this is not the reason why a restaurant etc. leaves off its pricing an unintended consequence of this may be to suggest that prices are higher than they actually are. Remember no customer wants to risk going somewhere to eat only to find once inside they can only afford to order a starter!
When it comes to some of the larger multi-site operators I have also noticed an interesting development. When searching their websites looking at what dishes they offer I often come across menus which have great descriptions of what is available but a complete absence of prices. On the surface this seems quite annoying. However by drilling down to an individual outlet the same menus then appear but with prices added. By doing this these operators are then able to tweak what is actually on the menu or the individual prices at a local level.
What drinks do you serve…
Looking at the hospitality sector overall although there are always areas for improvement most operators now showcase their food menus fairly well. The same however can’t be said about the way that many of them seem to treat their drinks offer. The obvious exception to this is usually wine. Most restaurants that have their food menus online will also have a wine menu. A glaring omission in my view is not to provide a menu to also promote the other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available.
Sometimes cocktails will get a brief mention and depending on the outlet some spirit brands but overall the information available online in this area tends to be weak. Looking at some outlets websites you wouldn’t even realise they served beer there. This is particularly surprising when you consider that the interest in beer has never been greater and from a commercial point of view there can also be some great margins to be made compared to food.
Even with those operators who provide detailed prices on their food and wine menus when it comes to these other drinks they so often seem to go under the radar.
“Google” is now a verb…
The customers of today and tomorrow are likely to be even more reliant on the internet to gather the information they need to make decisions on what they do, where they eat and what they drink. Not providing this techno savvy generation with the most up to date and complete information about what you offer is likely to put you at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive market place.