Many Singapore restaurants are hesitant to hosting so-called ‘food bloggers’ writing reviews on their restaurant, taking photos of their food and dining atmosphere. They wonder about a blogger’s effectiveness and whether they can answer the real question on each restaurant owner’s mind:
“Does a food blogger really improve my restaurant’s business? Or is he just eating for free?”
While I’m all for eating free food, there is a reason Food & Beverage Public Relationship companies are heavily employing food bloggers as part of their service, and restaurants should start being food blogger friendly. I’ll offer 5 quick reasons on why you should host food bloggers, especially the high profile and searchable ones.
1. Instant exposure
The most popular food bloggers in Singapore like Ladyironchef or myself can get up to 1 million unique visitors a month. That means if you have an unknown restaurant, two such reviews can get you recognised by roughly 10 – 20% of Singapore’s population within a month, at the cost of two simple meals.
Also, if you have been in the F&B industry a while, you will understand that a lot of diners tend to do their research on where to eat first before going to a new eatery. If they have heard about your restaurant, you can be sure that they will do a quick search on it before making the trip.
That’s where food blogs with good SEO (search engine optimization) like Sethlui.com are extremely useful, because the review pops up on within the first 5 results of a search engine like Google.
The decision to patronize a particular restaurant or not will depend on this ‘first impression’ which is read online via food reviews and ratings.
2. Controlled reviews and information
Since patrons are very likely to evaluate their willingness to go to a restaurant based on online reviews first, it is extremely important that your restaurant’s reviews are hospitable. During a organized taste hosting, more information like the way the food is cooked, origin of the meat and cuisine inspiration can be shared with the reviewer.
Some culinary ideas might not have been too explicit, like perhaps a beef is slightly charred and has burnt ends, but that’s because it’s open parrilla grilled and was intended to taste that way. Without an explanation, the layman would have thought it was overcooked burnt. Assume no one knows your idea till you explain it to them, and it’s important to explain your value lest patrons assume the worst.
3. Gain feedback
In the event there is something unpleasant about your restaurant, many experienced food bloggers like Camemberu, Misstamchiak, Keropokman and Sgfoodonfoot have years of experience tasting numerous establishments and are more qualified to give you honest feedback than the random uncle who complains the soup is too salty.
You can either wait for it to be written on their blog and read by thousands, or ask them straight after the tasting and correct it immediately. This is one of the very under-utilized source of credible feedback that chefs seem to miss. If half the bloggers give a similar detail comment, you know it’s something you need to change.
4. Extremely flattering photos
Everybody loves looking at delicious photos to stimulate their appetite, and often times bloggers are excellent photographers. Armed with DSLRs, sometimes food bloggers can produce photography better than the hired professionals you paid hundreds to. My friends at Melicacy and Six-and-seven for example, take really really yummy photos.
Ask the blogger nicely for a copy of their shot and most of them will oblige. These photos can be used for your PR and media materials to tempt customers into trying the food, not to mention being spread on social media like Instagram or Facebook. Even bloggers without expensive DSLRs like myself, have managed to digitally enhance photos to look professional and appetizing. These are definitely shots your restaurant should be collecting.
5. Most importantly-Increase Profits
And most importantly what every business owner should look for when executing any marketing action, is RESULTS. Bloggers will not only bring you exposure, but the exposure converts to sales. Here is an actual case study I’ve done based on a bistro that utilized bloggers attached with a promotion for their readers. We used 5 mid-sized bloggers with average traffic of 30,000 hits a month. It produced a 1220% return on marketing investment, and added $39,600 worth of customer value. The calculations are below.