Certain cities are known to attract foodies. The innovative cuisine, the inventive menus and the exciting growth by the country’s finest draw food critics and food lovers alike to places from Seattle and Portland to Philadelphia and New York City. In between, though, surprises like Cleveland, Kansas City, and Providence popped up, showing that the up-and-comers in the industry are branching into their hometowns and smaller cities. As a result, there’s a much better chance for new and smaller restaurants – like yours – to become a popular site for tourists and visitors to your city.
Social Media Master
Keeping your social media accounts active and accurate is a key component to attracting tourists to your restaurant. With so many different sites, though, it can be difficult to know where to start, and you don’t want to spend all of your time updating posts and uploading pictures. Think about joining a social media management platform that lets you control all of your accounts from one site. You’ll be able to keep track of what you’ve posted and where, and will be able to better coordinate and schedule your activity.
Facebook: Still a popular choice for adults of all ages, consider boosting some of your posts. You set your budget – as low as $5 – and the demographic parameters, and Facebook then publishes your posts in the news feeds of potential diners. Adding in Facebook advertising can help you reach even more guests, as these ads are shown in a sidebar and are more noticeable.
Twitter: Twitter has a similar program that boosts your tweets. They are noted as a promoted tweet, but are treated as an ordinary tweet, but will appear in the feeds of people who aren’t following you already. Start following the tourism boards, chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus in your area, and keep up with the conversation and chatter by adding valuable information and getting your name and handle more exposure.
Instagram and Snapchat: Instagram is filled with pictures of food, and that’s what you do. Start snapping some of your favorites, find the perfect hashtag (#foods, #foodstagram and #foodporn are some of the leaders), and watch your following grow. Creating a Snapchat Geofilter is another creative way to attract the attention of your diners. Letting them add these stickers and images to their photos spreads your brand name in a fun, unique way.
Rule the review sites: Zomato, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+ Reviews, and even local newspapers have a unique reach, and it’s important to make sure that your information, including your address, menu, and hours are accurate. You can invest as much or as little time as you like on each site, but claiming your location on each is important, as it’s a free, widely-used marketing tool. One of the best ways to stay on top of your publicity on restaurant review sites is to respond to both positive and negative comments with a courteous, professional response.
Keep your Web site up-to-date: Maintaining a Web site is one of the key ways your restaurant can attract tourists. They are more likely than others to search online for someplace to eat, so make it easy to find your restaurant. Include your phone number, address, and menu, and start incorporating fresh content that includes keywords applicable to your business. Once you’ve done that, make sure that you are listed in your area’s economic engines, like a city dining page, chamber of commerce and visitors bureau. They often have calendars of events – include any special menus, entertainment, or features you’ll be presenting on their calendars.
When you find yourself hungry while staying at a hotel in an unfamiliar city, what do you do? If you’re like most travelers, you call down to the front desk to learn more about the dining options in the area.
Prepare a sampling tray, filled with your favorites and best-selling menu choices, and visit the hotel manager or concierge. Some restaurants simply take menus and ask the concierge to consider recommending hotel patrons to their restaurants; others create an incentive program for each hotel, with a coupon or discount. When a set number of diners brings that card to your restaurant, reward the hotel concierge.
Track the Tourists
Leaving a brief comment card and asking your patrons to fill this out isn’t just good feedback about your food, but about your marketing. Asking them where they learned about your restaurant will help you pinpoint your most successful marketing campaigns. Once you know what works, you can invest more heavily in those channels and back off slightly from others. Don’t abandon other efforts – it’s important to create a wide net of people who have enjoyed their experience with you and are willing to share your restaurant with their connections.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
About us and this blog
We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today.