Hostme Blog

Restaurant Marketing Trends for 2020

It’s time to update my list from 2018. Marketing tactics and tools are always improving and changing, and restaurant owners do have to adapt. Some of the trends have remained the same, some have evolved, and some are just brand new. Let’s take a look:

1 – Guests are moving away from large restaurant networks

It used to be that anyone looking for a restaurant while out of town would go to OpenTable or The Fork to get suggestions on the best place to dine. This is not so much the case anymore. With the rise of Google Search and Google Maps, guests have found new ways to discover and read reviews about restaurants. Being part of those sometimes expensive networks is becoming obsolete, especially if you are catering to a younger crowd. Find a better place to put your marketing dollars to work!

2 – Social media is king

That is still true and will remain true for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to Instagram - because pictures are worth a thousand words. Hire a professional to take pictures of your place and of your dishes. Make the most of their visit and make sure they deliver a variety of high-quality pictures. Also, why not take a class on how to take nice pictures with your iPhone? The latest models can take mind blowing pictures if you know what you are doing. Another thing you should be doing is paying attention to TikTok - the upcoming and rapidly growing medium for short videos.

That is still true and will remain true for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to Instagram - because pictures are worth a thousand words. Hire a professional to take pictures of your place and of your dishes. Make the most of their visit and make sure they deliver a variety of high-quality pictures. Also, why not take a class on how to take nice pictures with your iPhone? The latest models can take mind blowing pictures if you know what you are doing. Another thing you should be doing is paying attention to TikTok - the upcoming and rapidly growing medium for short videos.

3 – Be engaged - respond to reviews

People trust reviews almost as much as referrals from their friends. Make sure you engage with your customers online. If someone makes a nice, friendly comment, write an upbeat note to thank them. On the other hand, if someone complains about the service or the food, don’t get into a screaming (typing) match with them. Empathize, try to understand what happened, and apologize. If they are clearly being unreasonable, remain courteous and polite; state your facts if you feel you need to defend your business while keeping it short and to the point. But be calm and kind - always.

4 – Convenience and customer experience

From ordering through a chatbot to ordering and closing a bill on a tablet at the table, customers’ expectations are going through the roof. Everything has to be flawless and easy. Before you splurge on new technologies or revamp how you run your business, talk to your customers to understand what is really important to them. Don’t sacrifice your culture and brand identity just to offer the same services as your neighbor. While McDonald’s can offer self-ordering kiosks, customers would not expect the same from a fine dining place. Concurrently, perform a cost/reward analysis before you spend time and money on new technologies. Going belly up for a fancy new feature that’s not really on your guests’ radar could be devastating to your business.

5 – Social and environmental responsibility

Customers are becoming more keenly aware of the impact of their actions on the environment and want to patronize businesses that are being socially and environmentally conscious. Use this to your advantage and promote your business actions on social media. From simple things such as giving straws only when asked, to more complicated processes such as sourcing most of your food locally from environmentally conscious providers are great starts. And make sure you post on your social media every time you implement a new process - or just remind them where your produce comes from. Photos of local sources - whether they are farms or artisan food product facilities - are always a big hit on social media.

And finally, make sure you always serve consistently top quality food with a smile. That has to be the oldest and best marketing tool you have in your toolbox.

by Marylise Fabro

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