The OpenTable team spent the past few days in Chicago at the 2015 National Restaurant Association Show, the largest single gathering of restaurant and foodservice professionals. When we weren’t meeting restaurant owners face to face and serving local Bow Truss pour-over coffee at our booth, we were attending the many speeches and panels given by the industry’s top experts on subjects from technology and marketing to staffing, training, trends, and more. Here are some of the most fascinating takeaways to grow your restaurant business.
From a marketing perspective, mobile search is one of the best things that has ever happened to the restaurant industry. Smartphones are, of course, now ubiquitous across America, and consumers are becoming more and more reliant on them. Some estimates currently place the mobile slice of the overall internet traffic pie at over 60 percent, and the amount of smartphone-wielding Americans who use their devices to search for a restaurant via a web browser has topped 90 percent.
Until now, the most critical component to ranking highly in these searches was maintaining up-to-date and relevant content. But on April 21, Google will roll out a landmark change to its algorithm that will begin to take mobile-friendliness into account as a ranking factor.
“The coming update will truly be the biggest move Google has ever made in the mobile realm,” says OpenTable’s SEO Marketing Director Scott Lavelle. “It represents a significant change in how businesses will connect with their customers on smartphones. Look at it not as a threat, but as an opportunity to put your best foot forward and provide your diners with a fantastic mobile experience.”
In part six of her How to Open a Restaurant series, hospitality consultant Alison Arth gives an overview of the tools you need to run a restaurant smoothly and effectively, from reservation management to tracking sales data.
When opening a restaurant, the number of products and systems designed to streamline operations is wide ranging and dizzying. The systems purchased and implemented at the start are costly, and even more costly to replace, so it’s important to do your research when selecting your restaurant’s tools so that you get it right the first time. Here, I will focus on the two most universally used operational systems in restaurants – point of sale and reservations – as well as other management tools you should consider to set your restaurant up for success.
Last week I attended the 20th annual MURTEC Conference in Las Vegas, where operators from almost 200 multi-unit restaurant groups and chains assembled to compare notes, talk solutions and discuss key trends.
As with all good conferences, there were some pretty interesting statistics sprinkled throughout the presentations. I’m sharing a few here that I think reflect top-of-mind topics for the audience.
OpenTable’s annual sales conference brings together our entire field team, from Tennessee to Tokyo, for a week devoted to sharing ideas, inspiration, and (of course) food. This year we invited a few local San Francisco restaurateurs to participate in a panel discussion about industry trends, business challenges, and how they aim to raise the bar for hospitality. See highlights in the video above!