You might have heard that Urbanspoon is being taken over by Zomato, a New Delhi-based restaurant directory. All Urbanspoon content will be migrated across to the new platform by the end of March this year.
Zomato is already active in overseas markets like the UK and New Zealand, but when the new platform arrives in Australia, it will combine existing Urbanspoon features with special new Zomato functions, like the ability to check-in to restaurants or tag friends in reviews.
Since Urbanspoon is the biggest source of referral traffic for restaurant websites, this is a big change that restaurants should pay attention to.
Here are the major points you need to know about.
1. Zomato staff will visit your restaurant
Unlike Urbanspoon, which doesn’t have any employees in Australia, Zomato’s primary aim is to be as hyperlocal as possible. The platform categorises restaurants in themed Collections, like ‘best burgers’ or ‘beach bars':
It lets customers look at maps, menus and pictures, but restaurateurs won’t be the ones uploading this information – instead, a special ‘street team’ will source it directly.
Zomato employees will visit individual restaurants to collect photos of menus and interiors. They will also speak to owners about advertising opportunities. Obviously this will take some time as the company rolls out its presence, but at some point in the future you can expect to have a relationship with a Zomato representative.
2. Food bloggers will have all the power
Zomato allows customers to rate and review the venues they visit, but the new platform will be taking things to another level.
Foodies will be encouraged to communicate with each other as soon as they arrive at a restaurant. They will be able to use a Check-In feature to comment on the atmosphere or give people tips on what to order. This means customer service will be scrutinised even more than it is already – and restaurants with poor front of house service will not be able to hide.
3. Foodstagramming isn’t going anywhere
Zomato users will be able to connect their Instagram account to the Zomato app, which means your customers’ obsession with food porn isn’t going away any time soon.
Food bloggers will also compete to become known as Neighbourhood Experts. To earn this title, they have to review at least 10 restaurants in a single suburb, or post 50 photos of restaurants in a single suburb. There will be rampant opportunities to market to these diners with freebies and promotional incentives.
4. Cashless payments are coming
One day soon, customers will be able to use the Zomato app to pay their bill. When they check-in to a restaurant, the app will create a unique billing profile. They will still order their food through wait staff, but payment will happen automatically, meaning they can leave at the end of their meal without waiting for the bill.
While this function will take a while to come to Australia – it was only introduced to Dubai last year – it’s just more evidence that cashless payments are inevitable in our restaurants.
Take a look around Zomato in New Zealand and let us know what you think in the comments. Will it take off in Australia?