US reviewer Zagat and online booking service OpenTable have both released free applications for the iPhone. They will use your location to find a local venue and OpenTable will show availability and organise the booking. Maybe those services don't apply in your area, but can an iPhone user find you easily if they use it to search for food or drink?
Speaking of iPhones - how does your website look on it? You can check here - most sites are unrecognisable. A whole new conversation with your website designer...
It seems to be mainly industry associations that still labour to produce these clunky tomes instead of putting their energy into a proper online directory. If the print volume is translated into an online format, it usually copies the same type of classification that was used on paper. Does Profitable Hospitality fit under 'Management' or 'Marketing' or 'Software'...or 'Other'? That will be $50 for each extra category!
This century's model for information finding and presentation is called 'search' - it couldn't be simpler. If someone is looking for 'software to cost recipes', they just want to search for that term, not go alphabetically through categories that may be correct. This puts the onus back on the business to write a good description, using the right keywords so a search produces helpful results. We're all used to googling - trying to make people do it any other way is wasting time.
Wild and wonderful wine marketer Gary Vaynerchuk gives everyone who's still doing 2007-style advertising a well-deserved whipping:
Seth Godin gives a nice description of the advantages and workings of RSS:
I can highly recommend a wide range of RSS tools, which can take your browsing efficiency way up.
And if you're not a subscriber (to this blog and others) today is a great day to start. RSS is a little like radio. Every blog and many news services 'broadcast' a tiny little signal that you can't hear, but your RSS reader can. (It's like a radio tuner). You tell the RSS reader which blogs and news feeds you like, and whenever it senses that signal, it goes out and grabs the post for you. Quick and free. With a good reader, you can easily keep up with 100 blogs in less than an hour.
I've been asked this twice in the last 3 days. Magic powers?
Well, it is my job...I don't cook or carry plates. But my most important tool for keeping up is a feed reader, a free service that collects information I subscribe to.
Then, being a male (our menu-reading behaviour is to skim, not read), I can flick through hundreds of updated websites, blogs or web entries every day, concentrating on the ones that are of most interest. IMHO, feed readers are the single most important tool available for keeping up with professional information. Without one, you're struggling at the rear of the line...
The good people at CommonCraft give us a description in just one minute:
When the Olympics start in Beijing on 8 August, there will be two weeks of pleasant but taxing chaos in the hospitality business - excitement, messy scheduling, customers glued to their TV sets at home etc etc...
It's no gift to this industry.
The bureaucracy of the various Olympic bodies doesn't do much to build enthusiasm - this is the sign-up form to receive Olympic team information from the Australian body ->>>
What the...why is all the information compulsory, including my phone number?? No thanks.
Small Winery Marketer reports on one of his recent business presentations. His call to action should be heard by all small cafes and restaurants:
"If you’re not using new media to promote and control your brand, you’re going out of business, but you don’t know it. Your margin is gone! Ghost!"
His declaration that winemakers need to have a blog and update it daily, should be active on Facebook and MySpace, and should patrol other wine blogs contributing comments and “being part of the conversation” led some to wonder where all the time and energy was to come from.
“First step, stop crying.” Vaynerchuk said. “Don’t be scared. It’s your business.” Taking risks, putting your self out there has virtually no downside, he said. “The people you think control the game are about to lose it anyway,” so you’re better off taking control of your message.
He went on to say that being genuine and truthful made up for not being a great writer. He warned against thinking that daily observations from your vineyard or winery weren’t important enough to interest people. If you tell people about yourself and don’t preach or sell, they care, he said. “You need to go direct to the consumer,” he said. “if you don’t, you’re dead.”
You either spend money, or time to promote your product. Five years ago, there were no free marketing options (blogging, Facebook etc) except talking face-to-face - spending was the only way to reach a crowd. Now, more and more consumers trust their fellow eaters on Yelp and Eatability before they trust the authority guidebooks. Participate or wither...
Here's Gary - you may not love his style, but don't ignore his message!
Lee from CommonCraft (the people who do the great video demos) writes about visiting a beachside cafe:
The first thing we noticed on the approach was the chalkboard outside that said "free wifi". Free wifi out here in the far reaches of the country. Cool! We walked in and talked a bit.
Me: So, is the wifi on during business hours?
Her: Nope, 24 hours. I'd probably forget to turn it off anyway.
Me: Is there a password?
Her: No, it's not worth keeping up with a password
Me: It's really great that you offer it way out here
Her: Yeah, you know, it would be a pain to try to make money on it. My little shop here may cost a little more than other places, but if you use the wifi, you might consider buying a little something. It's up to you.
[photo from their blog]
Social media implies that people will keep talking and making comments, dammit. And Google Maps will keep showing them up when you search and discover.
The entry above was top of the listing for a pub that, some time back, put lots of work into adding extra information and photos to their Google Local Business entry. But someone stopped watching. Has anyone told the new marketing manager?