23 Sep How The Restaurant Industry Had To Adapt With COVID-19
People used to be able to simply walk into a restaurant, sit down, and enjoy their meal without having the worries of a global pandemic. Since COVID-19, the restaurant industry has been making constant changes and adjustments to fit certain criteria and rules so that they can remain open, such as switching to take out only, limiting the menu offerings, selling alcohol to-go, and most recently doing reservation seating only.
Certain restaurants have had to make drastic changes to the way that they do things, on both a business front as well as digitally, so that they can stay afloat and have just recently been able to reopen for dine-in, within certain guidelines. For example, Nino’s Pizza, located in Cranston, Rhode Island, redesigned their website at the start of COVID-19 as part of their plan for take-out. Prior to COVID-19, they did not have an option for online orders, and the only way to do take-out was to order over the phone. They had to adapt to keep up with the constant flow of orders they were receiving by adding the option on their website for patrons to place their order and not having to make a phone call. Furthermore, they have had to continue take-out because, being a smaller establishment, it is difficult to remain within the guidelines of social distancing if they were to open for dine-in.
Restaurants that have been able to open for dine-in have also had to make changes to keep up with the constant changes in guidelines of COVID-19, making even more advancements in the digital realm. Restaurants such as Nikolas Pizza in Newport, RI, and Constantino’s Venda Bar & Ristorante, on Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, have eliminated the use of physical menus and has instead uploaded the menu in its entirety to their website. Now, when people sit down to order, they now scroll through the pages of the menu online to eliminate the potential spread of germs on the physical menus.
Some restaurants have also began shifting some of their advertising dollars to gain more exposure to the community. When I talk to my friends about going out to eat and we can’t decide where to go, the first place that we go to is Google, and search something along the lines of “restaurants near me,” and usually the first places that show up are either the ones with the highest ratings, or the ones who have spent money on add words. Restaurants have begun to shift some of their money into ad words so that they would also appear first in the search. Along with that, they have also been asking for more reviews and ratings so that they have a greater chance of appearing in the searches. One of the sites that is known for its public review usage is Yelp. Many times, if there are not any reviews on Google, the next site we turn to when searching for a restaurant will be Yelp to see what previous people’s experiences. Some restaurants even offer a reward, such as a free appetizer or 20% off for leaving a review and providing proof of it so that there is an incentive for the patrons to leave a positive review.
Restaurants have been adapting and increasing the use of their social media pages as well. With dine-in beginning to make a comeback, restaurants have been showcasing what they are doing to adhere to social distancing policies to allow for people to eat at their restaurant. Furthermore, they have been showcasing some of the highlights from their menu. Whether it be a specific beverage they may offer such as a martini, or a special food that is unique to their location, restaurants have been utilizing the image aspect of social media to capture the attention of people in the area. Restaurants have also been adding their location on social media pages for people to see and use. One of the most recognizable examples of this is on Instagram stories. When people go out to eat, and they order something that is mouth-watering, they post it on their story, and along with it, they tag their location of the restaurant they are eating at. This can be very important for the restaurant because that person can act as a form of micro influence on their own follower community, thus potentially encouraging their followers to check out that restaurant as well. One of the most popular examples of this for the Millennial generation is the Sugar Factory, located in Foxwoods Resorts Casino. Many times I have seen people post their colorful drinks from Sugar Factory on their Instagram story, which also features a tag of the location at which they are eating.
As times continue to change in 2020, so does the way that advertising and digital marketing is done. Here at ACCL Marketing, we adapt and change with the times, and help our clients do the same. Contact us for more information.
Blog By: Zach Ramsey (Intern Summer 2020)