Restauranteurs, chefs and culinary authorities have long debated the ultimate appeal of a meal. Especially with the rise of social media, photographers argue that you “eat with your eyes first.” Neuroscientists (or anyone who sat through fourth-grade science) insist that smell dictates flavors, and hence the allure of food is aroma-based. Some market research even suggests that the color of your flatware influences taste.
Beyond the basics of biology, food and hospitality experts add another, and perhaps more holistic, angle to the prism. Emotions.
Gallup research reveals that the primary influencer of repeat restaurant business is the service — how the employees and staff value the customer. Tom Colicchio, one of Bravo’s Top Chef judge, hones this concept further. It’s how customers are greeted immediately as they enter and exit the doors of your restaurant. Hospitality. Service. Ambience. Trust. This concept appears in restaurant vernacular under many banners.
The “X” Factor
So what gains repeat business? What makes a memorable meal? The truth may be closer to “D: All of the above,” a delicate blend of the physical sensations and emotional ambience rolled into some enigmatic “sixth sense.” Every element, from the ingredients and kitchen sounds to the energy and tempo of beverage service, colors the experience, and hence, every staff member plays a key role.
We needn’t remind hospitality professionals to invest in the holistic process of staff development. But as an extension of the team, PR experts also play a vital role in completing the picture when interacting with guests, influencers and staff beyond the restaurant’s four walls.
The Bridge Out
The experience doesn’t halt once the guest exits the front doors. Memories last, opinions gel, questions surface and social media often provides a ready mouthpiece for an ongoing relationship with diners. Here’s where your PR team needs to be integrated into your culture. Our expertise allows us to capture your voice and personality while providing efficient answers, addressing concerns and nurturing a sense of fun and play. Real people connecting with real people.
We also connect with groups that may not come to mind as an official audience, such as influencers, festival attendees, media and even our own social groups. Storytellers, relationship builders, friends, spokespersons — our role amplifies your personality beyond the walls of your dining room.
The Conduit In
Since we have our fingers on the pulse of the restaurant industry, PR partners like Clairemont can provide valuable feedback and strategic council that stays in step with the ebb and flow of culture. Certainly, we can assess overt forms of feedback, such as Yelp and blogger posts, restaurant reviews and Facebook messages. We also stay abreast of current trends and proffer fresh tactics to highlight the restaurant’s distinct offerings.
But what about the subtle tones? The conversation (or lack thereof) on Instagram or the “word on the street” among unofficial culinary thought leaders? Our relationships with these circles provide valuable insight into the prominent vibe and enable us to offer direction to our clients.
Of course, the “in and out” verbiage might suggest that restaurant PR and marketing is akin to a two-way street. Arguably, the process is far more cyclical and fluid, more like the Disney World’s Mad Tea Party ride than unidirectional traffic. But with 24-hour news as the norm, the role of PR is all the more important — a constant extension of the team’s eyes, ears and voice to communicate messages and foster relationships on your behalf.