MASTERCLASSING

Restaurant searching is becoming increasingly mobile and search engine-based

Tyrone Stewart

Restaurant search iPad tabletOver a quarter of consumers now search for restaurants using their mobile phones while ‘on-the-go’, often choosing to use third-party platforms to find the food they seek.

According to Yext research, which involved a survey of 2,000 UK smartphone users who search for restaurants online, 27 per cent of people look for tables ‘on-the-go’.

Of all those searching for restaurants, just 20 per cent begin their journeys with the restaurant’s own website. Instead, 50 per cent start with a search engine, 12 per cent begin with map apps, seven per cent get going on review sites, and five per cent start off on delivery sites.

“Third-party services such as these have enabled consumers to make more informed decisions on-the-go,” said Jon Buss, MD UK at Yext. “This shift is impacting the restaurant more than any other. An average restaurant may see over 10 times the amount of traffic happening across these new experiences compared to just 2.7 times in other industries.”

The research also found that there has been a shift in what consumers are searching for when looking for somewhere to eat. 51 per cent of people now search by food type, compared to 45 per cent in 2017. Meanwhile, 13 per cent now search for specific food items.

Meanwhile, 81 per cent of consumers include attribute terms, such as ‘takes reservations’ and ‘gluten-fee option’, in their search query. And 12 per cent expect this information to be at their fingertips one hour before they visit or pick-up an order from a restaurant.

Yext also recently carried out a separate study of 400 marketing decision makers which found that 89 per cent of hospitality marketers agree that improving web listings is crucial for their organisation in order to increase sales. And the opportunity is clear with 37 per cent of consumers looking for a restaurant online every week.

“Restaurant chains have to start tackling some of the big questions when it comes to data architecting,” said Lee Zucker, head of industry, food services & hospitality at Yext. “It’s no longer enough to promote the brand on its own, or simply list menu items on a page inside the restaurant’s website. Restaurants have to be able to publish the information customers want across the whole network of sites and apps they use day-to-day. We see that when this is done properly, there’s significant ROI for restaurant brands across all segments from QSR to fine dining.”