How Restaurant Operators Can Win in the Phone-to-Table Era

In this digital age, people’s dining experiences begin before they leave home. The so-called “phone-to-table” trend describes how smartphones are driving dining selections; by the time someone has walked through the door, chances are they already visited the website, scanned the menu and checked the reviews.


As an agency specializing in food, beverage and hospitality, we’re here to help maximize the “phone-to-table” opportunity for restaurant operators with a few quick tips.


1. Optimize Your Digital Presence

Having a digital presence is critical to the success of a restaurant, since 79% of diners say they always or often look at a restaurant’s website, and 84% always or often look up the menu before deciding to visit. To convert casual lookie-loos to patrons, make sure your landing page is easy to navigate, mobile-friendly and includes links to active social media accounts.


2. Embrace Tech Integration
70% of consumers use their phones for off-premise delivery, and 29% order takeout and delivery from their phones at least every week. Integrating with third-party delivery platforms like UberEats and DoorDash will help attract the 57% of diners who have one of these apps on their phones. Digital interactions also provide a wealth of data related to consumer preferences which restaurants can leverage to optimize menus and personalize marketing strategies.


Mobile ordering and payment systems like Toast and Square can streamline dine-in, takeout and delivery by reducing wait times and improving order accuracy. Or consider embracing artificial intelligence for such tasks as menu optimization, food prep recommendations and customer service chatbots.


3. Actively Maintain Social Media Accounts
Since 48% of consumers say they follow a social media account from a restaurant or food brand, it’s never been more critical to have an engaging and consistent presence on sites like Instagram and TikTok. Posting at least three times a week and highlighting your menu items with quality photography will help increase engagement, followers and visits, as 21% say they have chosen a restaurant based on a social media post or photo. Users also respond to behind-the-scenes content, reposts from happy diners and influencer partnerships.


Posting the right content for each platform is crucial. Instagram’s algorithm favors posts with high interaction, so make sure to pair an engaging caption with your eye-catching photo to drive users to the comments. TikTok’s appeal to Gen Z lies in its lo-fi and high-energy content like trends, songs and user-generated content.


4. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Prospective diners scrutinize reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor, meaning these can make or break a restaurant’s reputation. Online reviews influence where 24% of American diners decide to eat, while 71% of Gen Z diners and 72% of Millennials have tried a new restaurant based solely on positive online reviews. Restaurateurs should closely monitor their customers’ feedback––positive or negative––and address concerns right away, as these responses can also sway impressions.


To learn more about how to attract diners or support operators in the digital age of dining, contact David Melnick, EVP of Brand Integration, at [email protected] or 410.336.1000.

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