In the old world, hospitality was about training your host to create a certain environment when first greeting a guest, or it was coaching your server to make sure they approached a table promptly or dealt with an angry customer a certain way.
Now, we’re shifting to the age of Digital Hospitality.
You can read the Yelp for Business blog article online. While you’re there also have a listen on-demand to the full conversation hosted by Yelp for Business with Cali BBQ owner Shawn Walchef and Gianluca Pesce, marketing director for Yolk, a 15-location breakfast chain.
Hospitality is why we love doing what we do. We become part of people’s families. We become part of those stories.
These days, the value and dedication to hospitality should extend to people online and offline. That means your website visitors should get the same great hospitality as your in-person guests.
COVID-19 has brought challenges to the restaurant industry that no one could have predicted, but it’s also created opportunities. While some restaurants quickly pivoted to online ordering and expanded delivery radiuses, others proactively planned for the moment when they’d be able to open their doors again.
Consumer outlooks and behaviors have also shifted during this time. Interest in health and safety is at an all-time high, and guest comfort with traditional dining has changed.
“There’s never been a point in time in human history where there’s a convergence of both of those. Those things are happening all around us, whether we choose to admit it or not. Amazon Prime, the fact that we’re all on Netflix, and there’s no more Blockbuster. The fact that I can’t take my son to Toys“R”Us, I mean, these things are happening, and for us not to acknowledge that it’s going to happen in the food space and beverage space would be naïve.”
This especially takes form when it comes to maintaining an active presence online in the same way you would pay attention to a guest walking into your restaurant. Walchef describes using a “Please seat yourself” sign in the lobby.
“That sign is the experience when someone walks into the restaurant, and no one is there to greet them. What happens? You feel not welcome, you feel ignored. Early on, about two years into running our restaurant, we decided that we’re not going to use that sign anymore. We’re going to pay to have a host always at the front of the restaurant to always welcome people when they come in, to always answer the phone, to smile, to do all of the things to give five-star hospitality. Five-star hospitality costs a lot of labor, but what’s happening on the digital side is: If you ignore people online, if somebody writes a review and you don’t respond to that review, that’s just the same as ignoring somebody who walks into your restaurant.”
The same goes for essentially any online interaction with your business.
“When somebody sends us a tweet, we answer the tweet,” said Shawn Walchef in the Yelp article. “We can send them a direct link to order online, to order catering. If we engage with them—that one-on-one engagement—we get a brand ambassador because how many other restaurant owners are actually going to respond to a direct message on Instagram when someone says, ‘Oh, I loved your ribs.’ Not only do I thank them back, but I’ll repost their rib photo. It’s just a small thank you. That’s user-generated content. It’s the thing that I’m most excited about because it’s the thing that will give us the biggest competitive advantage moving forward.”
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