Before – Remember the days when we had to rely on food connoisseurs to tell us if a restaurant was worth taking a trip to (if you can’t even remember those days, think of Anton Ego from Disney’s Ratatouille). Well, the days of flipping through our favorite newspaper for our favorite food critic’s column have passed! Instead of getting opinions from those with a well know foodie reputation (and those with really developed taste buds), the average consumer flips through Yelp reviews written by other average consumers. Consumers can also see if how many likes their restaurant in question have gotten on Facebook (it’s really simple math – the more likes, the better the restaurant must be) or look for restaurant hashtags. It’s restaurants made for the people, reviewed by the people.
During – Don’t give your customers a weird look if they’re taking pictures of their food (and themselves) in between bites. Pictures make the experience memorable (whether it’s bad or good memories is up to your cooks and servers.) They’re not only spreading your restaurant name by telling their friends about their experience, but they’re potentially helping people they don’t know make the decision to come to your diner. Being able to snap pictures and tweet and post during dinner also increases the number of mentions your restaurant gets. Forgetful customers don’t have to worry about remembering how their experience went the next day – internet and social media is in real-time.
After – People still meditate on their dining experience, but not like how a food critic thoughtfully processes his experience (again, think of Anton Ego’s deep meditation scene near the end of Ratatouille). There are A LOT of blogs out there dedicated to food, restaurants, and dining. Food bloggers give others a detailed post about their restaurant experience and encourage others to try it out (and of course, if their experience was good, they’ll come back too!)