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How Digital Platforms Influence Dining

Today’s busy customer expects restaurant-quality meals ordered in a few clicks on their phone and delivered to their door. Tall order, anyone?

Business owner Kate Toon says having food delivered to her door (or hotel) is a huge bonus. “I travel a lot and UberEats gives me a chance to try something new. As a vegetarian, there are so many options on the website.”

Recent research by finder.com.au found Australians spend $2.6 billion annually on having food delivered through companies like Menulog, UberEats, Deliveroo and Foodora. Aussies clearly love the convenience and choice offered by these companies. It’s also commonplace to look up a restaurant and read reviews before choosing to eat there.

So, how do these digital platforms affect restaurant owners?


Read Google and TripAdvisor reviews


Many people look up restaurants on TripAdvisor or read Google reviews before making a reservation. Instagram is also a big influencer for millennials. Research shows one in three millennials avoid eating at restaurants that are not active on Instagram.

According to ReviewTrackers, 63 percent of people check Google reviews before visiting a business while 94 percent of customers avoid a company if they’ve read negative reviews.

Make sure you keep an eye on your listings and regularly search for any unhappy customers who may be sharing negative experiences, relating to your business, online. Quickly addressing these reviews can turn an unhappy customer into a raving fan. By proactively acknowledging their complaint online and replying reflects positively on your business.

Tip: If social media overwhelms you, take it slow. Either hire one of your tech-savvy employees to #hashtag your social content, or learn how to do it yourself. Every 28 seconds, someone tags an Australian hotel, restaurant, or bar on Instagram. Don’t miss valuable social media traffic that can turn into actual customers.


Delivering food to customer’s door


Food delivery platforms like UberEats, Menulog and others have transformed the whole dining experience for customers in Australia. Even hatted restaurants like Sake allow customers to order through UberEats.

According to Morgan Stanley, more people will order takeaway food online by 2025 and the industry will be worth $4.2 billion. Busy customers are demanding more convenience and high food quality, as working hours become longer.

In Australia, UberEats, Menulog and other delivery companies have a list of restaurants on their websites. Customers order their meals through an app or the website.  The restaurant receives the order, makes the food and packs it ready for delivery. UberEats’ drivers take the food to the customer’s home or office while Menulog has restaurants make the deliveries themselves.


Get new customers


For Nerissa, owner of Lankan Tucker in Brunswick West, UberEats has brought more customers to their business since they signed up less than a year ago. “Despite the large commission (35 percent) charged by UberEats, we’ve managed to reach a lot more people who may not have found us otherwise,” she says.

“We’ve had a few issues with food going missing from bags or food going cold, which are beyond our control. Overall, the biggest benefit of being on UberEats has been more customers,” says Nerissa.

Running a restaurant is tough. Keeping up to date with what your customers want, and continuously looking for ways to increase sales and profits will keep you in business.

Digital platforms might be a way to reach more customers. But you also need to prepare for drivers turning up late, dropping off multiple orders affecting food temperature, high commissions affecting profit margins and kitchen staff stretched during busy times.

Like any other method, this approach needs careful analysis, monitoring and rapid problem solving to keep on top of results.

By Rashida Tayabali

Cooking with Pressman’s Original Australian Apple Cider

A perfectly balanced and refreshing drink for any occasion, the clean, crisp taste of Pressman’s Original All Australian Apple Cider makes for an excellent food pairing. With fresh apple notes and just a hint of sweetness, it complements a wide variety of foods, especially those difficult-to-match dishes where wine just doesn’t seem to work.

Cooking with cider can enhance the pairing even further, lending a smooth and unusual finish to both savoury and sweet recipes.

This pork shoulder dish is our ultimate showcase of cider in cooking. Deeply savoury and warming, with lingering sweetness and a burst of fresh apple flavour, it takes minimal effort and puts a sophisticated and delicious spin on the traditional roast. It’s the perfect match for a chilled bottle of Pressman’s.

Pressman’s Cider-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Apples

Serves 8

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Total cooking time: 3 hours

This recipe can be doubled or tripled to serve more people. If increasing the quantities, cook all the meat together in one pan, and the apples in a separate dish with some of the pan juices from the meat spooned over before roasting.

Ingredients:

1 x 2kg boned pork shoulder, skin on

1 x 330ml bottle Pressman’s Original All Australian Apple Cider

500ml (2 cups) chicken stock

2tbs brown sugar

8 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised

8 red eating apples

1 bunch fresh sage leaves

3tbs creme fraiche

Crispy fried sage leaves (optional), mashed potato and steamed green beans to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160℃. Score the pork skin all over and rub it with a generous sprinkle of salt. Tie the meat with twine to hold its shape while roasting, and put into a large roasting pan (it needs to be large enough to hold the apples later).
  2. Mix the cider, stock and sugar together, then carefully pour into the pan around pork, avoiding the skin. Scatter the garlic into the pan, then place in oven for two hours.
  3. While the pork cooks, prepare the apples by scoring a line around the middle of each one with a sharp knife, just cutting through the skin. When the two hours is up, add the sage and apples to the pan, tucking the sage down into the cooking liquid.
  4. Roast for a further 45 minutes to an hour, until the meat is very soft and pulls away easily when tested with a fork.
  5. Remove the apples from the dish and set aside to a warm place. Scoop out the sage and garlic and discard, and remove the pork. Pour the juices into a saucepan, then return the pork to the pan and increase oven heat to 230℃. Roast the pork until the skin crackles, approximately 15 minutes, then remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes.
  6. While the meat rests, simmer the pan juices until reduced by about half, then remove from heat and whisk through the creme fraiche. Season to taste. Serve the meat with roasted apples, mash and green beans, with the reduced sauce, shards of crackling and fried sage leaves to finish.

By Emily Rhodes

How Hyper-Regional works for Food

Hyper-regional foods are hot right now, and smart food businesses have been quick to get on trend. In regional Victoria, one small town has discovered that going hyper-regional is not only good for business, but also for the town’s economy by attracting local, and tourism dollars.

Taking hyper-regional to town

The historic town of Clunes in Victoria is known for its books.  The only internationally recognised Booktown in Australia, the annual Clunes Booktown Festival has played a key role in boosting the local economy and putting this little village on the map. But it’s the use of local produce and storytelling that has turned a sense of place into a real business asset for the town’s small businesses.

What is hyper-regional food?

Hyper-regional food is just as it sounds: local produce and recipes that are core to the identity of a place. In Georgia in the U.S.—where John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola—the 500-something brands represented under the Coca-Cola umbrella are all icons. In the Australian town of Clunes, its produce is grown from surrounding farms and wineries that are becoming ubiquitous with eating in the small town.

Hyper Regional Foods trends

Fresh food

Surrounded by farms, the cafés and pubs in Clunes have access to the types of fresh produce you’d expect to find in a regional area.  There is the local farmer who has turned butcher to supply locally grown lamb and beef.  The beekeeper—whose beehives are on properties throughout the district—produces honey with flavours unique to each field. There’s even a peanut farmer who makes Clunes’ favourite peanut butter.  However, what is unexpected is the way businesses take advantage of the stories behind the food to create a unique sense of place for customers eating in their establishments.  

It’s in the history

Businesses understand that the hyper-regional trend is about the combination of fresh produce, local history and your ability to tell a tale.

Local winegrower Jane Lesock of Mt. Beckworth Wines has made hyper-regional her business.  Offering locally grown wines from her nearby vineyard provides people with a true taste of Clunes and its surrounding countryside.

“We were one of the first wine producers to take our cellar door into the village,” says Lesock, whose retail outlet recently celebrated 10 years of business.

“People like to know where the grapes are grown and how they are produced, but they also want a story as well.”

Mt. Beckworth Wines makes sure their story is front and centre, naming their collection after family members. Each sale comes with a tale, ensuring customers remember the wine long after the bottle is empty.

Putting the hype in hyper-regional

“Trends come and go,” says Matt O’Kelly, proprietor of O’Hara’s @ Clunes Bakery, known locally for their own custard kringle and speciality chunky beef pies.

“It’s hard for a small business to really create the momentum to take advantage of those trends alone.  But when all the traders feature local food or recipes, it’s easier for us to work together to promote that locally and to tourists.

“In Clunes, the traders do this through our Clunes Tourist Development Association, town websites and media releases.

“Now when people come to our bakery and ask for a pie, they ask for a Clunes pie.”

Trends that work for you

Whether the hyper-regional food choice on your menu is produced or grown locally, or is simply a recipe with a tale, make sure you can leverage off it to drive traffic to your hotel, restaurant or café. Why? Because the most important part of being on trend is making sure that the trend works for you.

About the Author

Lana de Kort is a published author and business writer with over 20 years experience working with industry, commerce and community.  In 2014 she co-founded a network of over 21 writers across Australia.

 

Five Lessons I Learned Going From Franchisee to Restaurateur

By Wally Mostafa

As part-owner of middle eastern-fusion restaurant BEKYA, my prior experience of owning four Subway franchises has been enormously helpful towards the early years of setting up a restaurant of my own.

So, here are my top tips for others looking to make the big move…

  1. Franchising teaches you how to divide up your budget

With Subway, it’s all there in the manuals and the training provided—what percentage of operating costs should go on staffing, rent, produce and other costs, and even how to turn over a reasonable profit. Having worked in the hospitality field through Subway for so long, it’s taught me what proportion of my costs should go into each area of the budget to maximise profit.

That said, with a popular franchise like Subway, location is key, as people come to you because you’re located in a convenient spot. With a restaurant, you become the destination, so the rent represents a lower percentage of total costs, wages, and training; the things that make for a great customer experience from the food to the treatment they receive, are of a higher percentage.

  1. Staffing your restaurant at the optimal level is a big part of your success

Staffing is a huge element of getting a restaurant right.  You need enough employees back-of-house creating wonderful food, and you need the right number front-of-house ensuring a great customer experience. Getting it wrong means blowing out costs, and damaging your reputation. My years with Subway have taught me how to get that balance right.

  1. Customer experience is key to fine dining—they aren’t just looking for a well-priced sandwich close to work.

In a Subway store, people come in for a quick and easy sandwich. One bad experience won’t necessarily cause a great deal of damage to your profit, but it always pays to strive for excellence. You also have some leeway when you get started, as people are ‘kinder’ to mistakes at that end of the hospitality industry. But with a restaurant, it can be one strike and you’re out. With social media, all it takes is one bad review and your restaurant sees a dip in sales. This means you need to hit it right out of the park to start with and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in damage control, trying to earn back a good reputation.

Wally_Mostafa_Bekya_Sydney_Restaurants_Cafes

 

  1. As a franchisee, a lot of the operation is made easy for you, and when you go out on your own, you need to learn new skills

With a franchise, you’ve got pre-existing supply chains and buying power when it comes to ingredients and other materials—from uniforms to cutlery and packaging. You’ve also got support on tap if anything goes wrong. If, for example, a machine breaks down, you simply call head office and it’s dealt with quickly from there. Since opening BEKYA, I’ve had to build my own network of suppliers, negotiate the best price for the best produce, and stay up to speed with pricing. Likewise, if machinery breaks down, I have contracts with the equipment suppliers, but it’s not quite as seamlessly sorted out, and definitely not as quick

5: Being a franchisee gave me the flexibility to open on my own

Owning a franchise like Subway usually provides a stable income, and that’s the appeal for a lot of owners. A Franchise system gave me the flexibility in my personal life to get set up and ready to go out on my own. It’s also taught me many of the skills I use now and it’s provided something of a blueprint to what I need to be doing to turn a profit.

Obviously, there are differences between a restaurant like BEKYA and a chain sandwich bar like Subway, but there are also many basics that stay the same, and without my experiences there, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Related Article:

From Subway to Bekya

 

What Customer Experience do you Want to Deliver?

Online Customer experiences shared through Food apps

Having a vision of an ideal customer experience should be the starting point for investing in technologies and marketing approaches to grow your business. That’s one of the key messages for hotel and restaurant owners from Deloitte’s Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook 2017.

Touch points are part of a bigger picture

Deloitte’s report suggests that gaining loyal customers in 2017 will come from, “…a shift in thinking to make customer experience paramount.” But what is customer experience?

Customer experience is shaped by many things: the quality of your products and services, the friendliness of staff, price, convenience, your decor, the music you play…the list goes on. But what matters, even more, is putting all these elements together in a strategic way.

Insights by consulting firm McKinsey shared in the Harvard Business Review reveal that perfecting individual touchpoints with customers may not be enough, if the sum of the parts does not meet expectations. That’s where customer experience comes in, ultimately acting as the impression a person develops over time based on their entire interaction with your brand.

McKinsey found that companies that successfully manage the entire customer journey “…reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.”

growing business customers experience online

What experiences will drive real value?

Given that customer experience is a cumulative effect, most people don’t get fed up by one bad interaction. But that doesn’t mean customers are inclined to be loyal. Most people are indifferent—willing to change their plans to take advantage of a better price, service or experience.

That means you need to envision the ideal journey for the customers you want to attract, and then prioritise efforts that will allow you to offer those experiences consistently, and at scale.

Deloitte’s report suggests brands need to provide truly valuable and memorable experiences that focus on authenticity, personalisation and immediacy. It says hotel guests, “…will define a brand by the quality of their experiences across a proliferation of touch points, including smartphones, desktops, wearable apps, over the phone, and on property”.

It takes a holistic, integrated approach to cultivate devoted customers, willing to leave positive reviews online, share your hashtags on social media or recommend your business to a friend.

 

 

Navigate new technology carefully

Deloitte’s report points to the fact that, as in many other industries, travel and hospitality leaders will be those that adapt to changes in the economy, technology and consumer mindsets.

Making the customer experience special and embedded throughout your business while riding the wave of disruption will inevitably involve investments in technology. But there is a balance to be found between being left behind and moving too quickly.

An example from the Deloitte report is the millions spent upgrading hotels with tablet kiosks similar to those used by airlines, only to be made obsolete by the rise of app-based mobile check-in.

The report acknowledges that making smart choices will only become more difficult as new technologies like virtual reality and the Internet of Things emerge. Decisions need to be driven by a clear understanding of what makes a great customer experience and what technologies will support that.

Create experiences worth sharing

The report also uses the example of a successful airline app that allows passengers to track their luggage using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. The app was not created to meet a significant practical need (lost luggage affects a small percentage of people) but rather to boost customers’ peace of mind: integral to a positive flying experience.

Understanding your ideal customer experience will also allow you to take full advantage of the most influential marketing platforms, including social media.

In a recent review of social media trends that matter in 2017, content marketing platform Contently highlight the fact that most people that use the internet also use social media, more often than not via their mobile, and most likely to watch or share video content.

Hotel and hospitality businesses need to understand how customers use travel and hospitality experiences to build their own personal brand; especially using image and video-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Deloitte’s report suggests that brands, “…make it a point to create experiences worth sharing in order to capitalize on the enormous exposure these platforms provide.”

Start with customer experience to succeed

It’s not possible to design and promote experiences that break through apathy or to cleverly leverage technologies and platforms to boost loyalty unless you can clearly imagine the ideal customer experience.

Using that knowledge to make decisions will ensure a cohesive customer journey where marketing promises are consistently met or exceeded in unique ways that resonate with your customers and deliver excellent hospitality experiences.

About the Author

Josh Alston

A former news hound, editor and roaming reporter for News Corp Australia for 12 years, Josh is now a freelance copywriter covering politics, innovation, technology, health, science and financial services, among other topics.

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