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As we examine and develop new strategies for the changes that we can expect to see in the hospitality industry post-crisis, we are also starting to envision the world beyond the pandemic and to the new normal of radically shifted travel consumer expectations and preferences. The probability of guest technology expectations worldwide significantly changing becomes high as guests prefer a more touchless and fully mobile-enabled hospitality experience post-COVID-19. The future of hospitality has always been mobile–but COVID-19 will accelerate this trend from a nice-to-have to a must-have for hoteliers.

When it comes to leadership today, how do you stay ahead of the competition? How do you innovate in your niche? How can your team think differently when most people hold on tightly to what they know? To have a competitive advantage, it’s all about keeping your eye on the future and looking for opportunities.

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How to Incorporate Digital Marketing into Fine Dining

01/24/2017
by Boston University: Rafi Pell, Tessa Ohebshalom, Zifan Li and Maura Feltault

Since the recent growth in fine dining casual dress codes, environments, added value and culinary enhancements are among the ways in which fine dining restaurants have changed to meet their customer's’ needs.

As times have changed and most restaurants have migrated toward a digital marketing approach, it has been challenging for restaurants to keep up. Establishments of this caliber depend on the idea of exclusivity, that is something quickly lost by the use of digital marketing since all channels are meant to be public. Restaurateurs might be wary to try this new form of marketing out of fear of losing touch with traditional roots and losing the one aspect that sets the experience apart.

Similarly, the lack of personal touch that comes with digital marketing on top of the lack of exclusivity are the two main reasons that fine dining restaurants might be hesitant to incorporate digital marketing. In order for fine dining to remain a force in the industry, adapting to the new era and incorporating digital marketing is essential.

One way this can be done is through the tasteful use of social media channels. Even though their market is limited, many different types of guests can be found at fine dining restaurants. There are the wealthy guests, the foodies, the tourists, and guests who come only for special occasions. A fine dining restaurant’s goal should be to reach this diverse demographic of guests through different sources. To target the older market, restaurants should invest in traditional marketing techniques such as newspapers, food magazines and reviews. However, this would only touch a fraction of customers. Restaurants also have to focus on new media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Using aesthetically pleasing photos of a restaurant's food, the dining room or the chef can influence those following their accounts to choose their restaurant. The way a fine dining restaurant will posts pictures will be much different than the way casual restaurants do.  Fine dining restaurants can still emphasize the experience of their restaurants through images that entice the viewer to seek out the exclusive experience for themselves.

User-generated content sites like Yelp, which have tremendous power in the world today, is another way to remain competitive. There are millions of users on these sites who actively engage on them throughout their day. But there are several fine dining restaurants that will not promote themselves on Yelp for fear of what guests might say. According to Yelp, almost half of the reviews posted on the site are five-star reviews, and even if they aren’t five star reviews, almost three-fourths of the reviews posted on Yelp end with the reviewer recommending the establishment to the public.

Another interesting fact is that nearly half of Yelp users make a salary of $100,000 or more a year. These users arguably have a larger disposable income and can afford to eat out more often at upscale establishments. Being an active participant on Yelp has not only been proven to have a strong influence on restaurant sales, but it can also help create loyal guests. Responding to reviews shows that the restaurant appreciates its customers and wants to take that second chance to turn them from critics into repeat customers.

Digital marketing is not just the present way to engage with guests, but it is also the future. All restaurants have to work in incorporate it somehow in order to stay relevant in this ever changing industry. Fine dining especially has to put its traditionalist ways behind and embrace the idea of digital marketing through social media and Yelp to remain a force in the industry.

About The Author
Boston University: Rafi Pell, Tessa Ohebshalom, Zifan Li and Maura Feltault




Rafi Pell, Tessa Ohebshalom, Zifan Li and Maura Feltault
 
Special thanks to Leora Lanz's Digital Marketing for Hospitality class at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration for providing this series for our readers.
 
This is the second article in a total of five articles this series.

 
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