Marybeth Sheppard says

Restaurants could be missing valuable connection opportunities with customers by outsourcing their reservations to third-party software. Marybeth Sheppard, Senior Vice President of Marketing for SevenRooms explains why, and offers tips for how to use this customer information on today’s MarketScale Food & Beverage Podcast.

To understand why is a lesson in restaurant marketing from over the years, Sheppard said. Twenty years ago, calling the restaurant (often an upscale one, at that) was the norm for taking customer reservations.

As restaurants were just beginning to build their online presence, third-party reservation apps became aggregators for reservations at more restaurants. “Third parties popped up and really helped facilitate this evolution,” Sheppard said.

Now that restaurants have a fully evolved Google presence and profiles on social media, thought, Sheppard said now is the time for restaurant operators to take advantage of technology that can be installed on their own website to take reservations.

“Today a restaurant has more opportunity than ever to connect with those diners directly online,” she said. “A direct reservation allows the restaurant to collect the full scope of data about the reservation including guest information, guest contact info, preference, and dietary restrictions. That’s the start of a relationship with the restaurant for the customer life cycle.”

That personalization and engagement is often the key differentiator in a customer’s journey and what will help restaurants succeed, Sheppard said.

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