Snap or Not to Snap Pix of Food?


Is it annoying for you to see a person at another table in a restaurant snap a picture of their meal? The trend is increasing, but it may be hampered by diners and restaurant owners who are annoyed by mobile device snapping patrons who believe the world is waiting to see their latest food find. Such is social media.

The upside for a restaurant with good food and great presentations, free marketing & great reviews. The downside for that same restaurant, inconvenienced customers who, in a competitive restaurant location, may choose another atmosphere. The recent article Restaurants Turn Camera Shy in the New York Times highlights the dilemma for restaurant owners and picture-loving patrons.

I do get captivated by the meal enough to capture a shot, but as I’ve participated in social media over the years, I kind of want to eat while it’s warm : )

The audio is an excerpt from the podcast Beyond Social Media that airs on Tuesday nights at 9:30 PM Eastern. In this audio, David Erickson of describes the solutions one chef has for bridging the gap between the camera shy and the image crazed diners.

AJ bombers burger in Milwaukee

Great Burgers in Milwaukee

the Barrie burger from AJ Bombers

Catch BL Ochman, David Erickson and Albert Maruggi on Blog Talk Radio’s Beyond Social Media Tuesdays at 9:30 PM Eastern


Keys to Guest Satisfaction While Under Construction


Hotel construction and remodeling is a fact of life for hotels to provide great guest experiences.  The irony is that the same construction, while underway can be an albatross for managers and staff.  In a recent stay at the Courtyard by Marriott in Wichita, Kansas in Old Town, I saw some key qualities that make for a pleasant stay as the hotel was undergoing major renovation.  Let me describe major, in the case of this hotel it was, lobby, registration desk, exercise room, and other high impact guest areas.   No small feat.  The rooms and hallways were completed earlier in the year.


Keys to guest satisfaction included:

staff that was empowered to give breaks to guests such as a complimentary parking pass that saved me $8

signage indicating construction project

architectural drawings of the remodeled areas


How Personal Do You Want To Be With Your Hotel Brand?


The buzz word in hotel marketing and customer service these days is Personalization.  IBM’s Hotel 2020 the Personalization Paradox is a great discussion of the issue.  Yet this is another go round for buzz words like personalization.  When you see a word around for a while it is usually because it is either unclearly defined or really difficult to achieve.

In this case it is both.  Is personalization knowing your customers’ likes and dislikes from room temperature to diet, or is it remembering their name and when they stayed at the property last.   Personalization may dove tail nicely into the future of social media.  For example, in a post on my friend Michael Procopio’s blog  – Phil Windley wrote about the power of the personal cloud

Personal Clouds – where we own and control all our information and we can direct our personal cloud to take actions for us –

  • change how we relate to everything in our lives
  • revolutionize how we communicate with each other
  • rearrange how we buy and sell products and services

In the hospitality industry many travelers have that cloud building right now, it’s their social footprint.  Yet most hotels don’t know right now which among the guests in their property is most active on Trip Advisor or Yelp?   Today, most hotel front desks could not make the association with the guest checking in standing right in front of them,  with the last comment that guest made about their stay in a competing hotel last week in a different city.  That same guest may well provide you with food likes, favorite wines, destinations of interests all just sitting around waiting to be collected.   That personalized information is in the public domain just waiting to be curated into actionable information for the socially connected hotelier.  One of my profiles on Yelp will shed light on favorite foods.




Buy An Upgrade. Really? Who Buys Upgrades


Funny, a purchased upgrade in the hotel or travel business these days is a lost art it seems. When I searched phrases like “Number of purchased room upgrades” and “hotel revenue from upgrades” I get more posts about how to get an upgrade for free. This game is one that can be won behind the scenes using more stealthy technology and just plain old good timing.

First the technology. Nor1 a hospitality technology company attempts to match a hotel’s perishable inventory with buyer behavior and preference. Nor1 Prime Hotel Technology Suite Their Prime product suite focuses on hotel room and services upgrades. The behind the scenes is historical comparisons conducted across the industry and among guests of the 10,000 properties using the software suite according to an article in Tnooz

Second, being ripe for purchasing an upgrade may well depend on the hours just before check-in. Yes a long flight, successful meeting, or even an arduous experience can be the right environment to receive that timely upgrade for a few shekels more. You’ve hit the “I deserve it” moment. This means having a mobile component, yes, email is mobile, but so too is mobile a number, twitter profile follow or Foursquare follow. Relationship building online can surely lead to greater knowledge about the guest, but also greater revenue per guest over time.


Make Your Restaurant A Showplace


To have a successful restaurant today, it needs to be a destination for unique cuisine, – and  a showplace of ideas, of personality, of knowledge. That’s what Mozza Mia is doing July 25 at 6pm in Edina, Minnesota, showcasing how to make fresh mozzarella, one of their many talents, that goes into one of the best gourmet pizzas in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Being social is being gracious with your expertise, sharing it with communities of interested guests and let the fun and learning be the experience. In this event, Mozza Mia Executive Chef Heather Swan will walk guests through how to make fresh mozzarella. I will tell you, being the grandson of Italian immigrants and growing up in The Bronx knowing that true mozzarella is kept in water, today’s store bought variety have little resemblance to what I remember as a kid.

Verizon (a client ) is sponsoring the event because many of today’s household cooks reach for their mobile device before a frying pan.   Come on admit it, you check for recipes based on what’s in the frig or what strikes your ethnic fancy.   If you are not Italian, but you feel like a little Italian that night, fire up your favorite culnary apps, and start your prep.

If you are in Minneapolis, let us know you are coming so we’ll have a handful of curds for you.


One Good SEO Turn Deserves Another – Ask Microsoft and Yelp


In a quick follow to Google Plus incorporating Zagat restaurant and hotel reviews in its search results (SEO Rules), Microsoft announced a deal with social hospitality review network Yelp. While the search I did today did not yield Yelp results, it raises the issue of how Microsoft is trying to incorporate your social network into search results. Bing allows you to connect your Facebook account to your search. It will attempt to see if your network has mentioned topics related to your search and gives you the option to post questions, comments, even share your search results with your Facebook network.

Facebook included in Bing’s social search.

MY view is there is much work to do. As the big players compete against each other and the ease with which users can jump to other search engines and social networks, the pressure is on to announce progress perhaps more so than deliver on them.

Here’s my Google search on the same topic. It is more comprehensive than what Bing is delivering as of today. But things change quickly. We’ll check back on Bing in a couple of weeks.

Google gets hospitality search by giving uses a comprehensive picture of the topic


Google Plus is a Plus for Hotels, Restaurants and Hospitality Destinations


The changes this week in Google + by merging Google Places is a huge plus for local destinations. Among the pluses;

  • Reviews with richer content
  • Star ratings replaced with wider score range 0-30
  • Google+ local page with friends in your circles
  • Google+ local pages will be indexed

Bottom line for hospitality destinations is this will take them a step closer to social immersion as their businesses and reviews will be further exposed to those using search to determine where to spend their dollars.

We’ll have more coverage on this topic in the coming days and a free, limited-space webcast on Google + Changes For Hospitality Thursday, June 7 as the dust starts to settle.

Greg Sterling does a nice piece on changes over at Search Engine Land


Eating and Tweeting – High Calories for Your Business


Great stat on Tweeting with your mouth full from the Hartman Group. Their study showed 29 percent of online consumers polled for the study have used a social networking site while eating and drinking in the last month (they were polled in December 2011). Among Millennials (18-32 years old), the percentage jumps up to 47%.

We are quickly moving to an online interaction society, whether we are at home eating alone or out on the town with friends. The study also indicated that this is not a egotistical cry in the digital wilderness to be heard, but a contribution to a resource that is also used to learn about foods and the culture behind them. A recent Huffington Post article points this trend to connect socially even when eating alone.

The tweeting when eating trend is important for any business that deals with food, culture, nutrition, among others because as they say, the quickest way to man’s (and woman’s) heart, is through their stomach. Be there to help them make the connection.

More on this and ideas on getting the most from social at this webcast.
Eventbrite - Getting Started with Social Mobile


What To Do With Positive Social Comments


In many cases hospitality businesses, (restaurants and hotels) don’t have the stomach for social engagement. They lack the commitment, the discipline on the marketing side that they may have in other parts of the operation. For example, meeting regulations and company policies for a clean kitchen, quality ingredient sourcing, or front desk customer satisfaction procedures are baked into new employee orientations, frequently discussed, and even included in performance standards.

A neat, effective social campaign like the one we reported in this blog using Facebook to solicit menu favorites should not be viewed as a single event. We showed how many, nearly 100 restaurant customers posted which of their menu items was their favorites.

Sample of many comments about favorite menu items
Plenty to talk about on the menu from customers

Take the next step and use the customers comments to generate real-time conversation among servers and other customers. Get some of these comments printed into a menu, used as decals on a table or print on a table tent. Then instruct servers to use this visual cue as a way to discuss menu items, specials, and assist new customers navigate the menu. This tactic triggers several actions for the business:

  1. Reinforces popular menu items
  2. Signals to customers the business listens to socially active customers
  3. Triggers more likely positive comments online
  4. Gives servers a conversation starter for relationship building with customers
  5. Advances relationship with satisfied customers whose comments and pictures are featured

Of course it is best to get approval from those customers whose comments you’ll use. In seeking approval you may also consider giving them some type of thank you that drives them back into the restaurant with some of there friends, selection of appetizers, round of drinks, a free portion of their favorite item, something like that.

Do you extend your social strategy into printed and visual cues?


A Fun Way Restaurants Can Engage on Facebook


First make sure your food is worth talking about.  Even if it’s just a few items that are mouth poppin’ good, you need to make sure you have some of them before you start asking customers what’s their favorite.

Second, have at it, ask your customers which are their favorites with a bit of an incentive.  It can be anything, their favorite meal on the house.  In this case we did tickets to the inaugral year of Target Field.  This was before the 100 loss season, so tickets were a hot item, and so where plenty of items on the menu.  We got more than 100 responses on Facebook and Twitter.   Take a look at some of the comments.

Got to Love the Hometown Team


Yummy stuff


Chicago Chicago Dog


Did She Say Yummo Licious? Yes