by Marylise Fabro
Have you noticed how Google never launches a new product with all the bells and whistles? From the start, Google Search just imposed itself as the superior search engine; they never hammered us with boisterous advertising or manipulative marketing. They created a product that was not new in its concept, but was revolutionary in how it worked — and they built on that success. It was the same with Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and so on. Their not-so-secret sauce is their ability to create products with usability and users in mind. Success often just naturally follows.
Restaurant owners have felt trapped by expensive but often necessary services providing marketing and loyalty programs for their guests. However, the guests ended up loyal to the third party but not to the restaurants. Restaurants were paying large cover charges for guests that had already made up their minds but just wanted to get the points. Google is going to change that.
What guests are really after are reviews, recommendations and the ability to know quickly if the restaurant has a table available for them. With “Reserve with Google,” they get all that information directly from their search results. They can pretty much rest assured that all those reviews are unbiased and unfiltered by Google, and as the service is growing in popularity, it will become the main tool used by guests.
The cost to participate in “Reserve with Google” is pretty low and can even be free. Sure, restaurant owners have to subscribe to one of the Google partners, but some of them are starting to launch a free version to attract customers. For instance, Hostme has a free version of its app that allows the restaurant manager to receive online reservations though Google. The catch? Hostme hopes that you will like the table, waitlist management and other features so much that you will subscribe to its service. But no pressure — until then, enjoy the free reservations flowing into your restaurant!
This is a great opportunity to look at what is working, and what’s not. Are the current systems in place really the most efficient and cost-effective. This can be from the bottom up, “Are we using the space under the POS station well?" all the way to “Can we be saving money with a new, more modern Reservation System?” Take the time to look at what you have and reevaluate. Now would be a good time to check out new possibilities, and try them out, train, without the learning curve affecting your service.
It means there’s no need to pay premium fees for online reservation services that promise new customers and loyalty to your restaurant. The time for that has come and gone. Restaurant-goers will either know where they want to eat (hence, they’ll make the reservation right from Google Search or your website), or they’ll look through Google Maps or Google Search and book from there. Google is building the entire ecosystem — from figuring out where to eat to booking a table right from one of their platforms. Google needs the data, you need the guests, guests need an easy way to book a table. Everyone is happy.