The common area at 1776’s 15th Street location was filled with food people last Thursday evening, from restauranteurs to chefs to digital strategists for restaurant groups. All were present to learn about technology, though. Specifically: How can tech help enhance my business?
With a strong lineup of speakers focused on the nexus of tech and food, the General Assembly panel discussion entitled “A Byte Off The Menu” set about asking how restauranteurs can interact with customers before they even pay the restaurant a visit.
The gathered crowd (while munching on Chaia tacos) heard from Krystle Mobayeni, the cofounder and CEO of BentoBox, a company that helps restaurants with their online presence; Michael Katigbak, the senior director of marketing for José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup; Cherian Thomas, CEO of #dctech’s Spotluck; and Theresa Dold, director of product at sweetgreen. Tim Ebner, a local D.C. food writer, moderated the panel.
Here are three key takeaways for how restaurants should be thinking about tech:
1. Have a (good) website.
- According to Mobayeni and data from BentoBox, twice as many people will visit your restaurant’s website as will visit your actual brick-and-mortar restaurant. So making a good first impression is key. How can you tailor your site to these visitors? Mobayeni said a full 60 percent of visitors to any given restaurant site are looking for the one of three things: the menu, location or reservations. Pro tip: make those things especially easy to find!
2. Pick your battles.
- As Katigbak put it: “You don’t have to adopt all technology, just understand what technology is going to be a good fit for you.” This sentiment was echoed by the other panelists as well: In general it is better to utilize one piece of tech really well rather than five with mixed (or negative) results.
3. Understand who you’re trying to speak with.
- Which customers are you trying to reach? Where do they spend time on the internet? Thinking deeply about the demographic you’re trying to reach will help direct what kind of digital marketing tactics you use, from Facebook advertising to email marketing or SEO optimization.
In addition to free panel events like this one, General Assembly teaches classes on everything from data to design. And here’s an opportunity to get a discount on on any of these classes: Sign up for our newsletter, add “TechGA” to the Code field and we’ll email you a discount code (20 percent off) that you can use when purchasing a class on the General Assembly website. Each person is limited to one discount. Your email address will also be added to the General Assembly DC list, so that you can stay updated on their latest offerings and events.
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