41 – How to market your Restaurant in a Tourist Town


Super excited that we are going to the 2017 NRA Show in Chicago.  It is one of the best educational opportunities for Restaurant owners and chefs to learn and get inspiration on how to better run their restaurant and/or kitchen.

In this Secret Sauce, we talk about attracting tourist customers. A lot of towns get a lot of tourists, but they tend to go to a very small number of Restaurants. Are you getting your fair share of the Tourists in your area?  If not, we will discuss lots of ideas to help you find more tourist customer and turn them into repeat customers.

Websites are even more important in Tourist areas.  Make sure that it is:

  • Optimised for Google Search;
  • Optimised for mobile (most of your customers will be on mobiles);
  • Links with Google Maps – your Google My Business account, (think about how people can get to your Restaurant); and
  • Have a signature dish on the front page.

If you need help with your Restaurant Website, talk to the M4R team, we have packages starting from $995 to help you start getting more customers.

Facebook ads can run very differently in tourist towns, making it a lot easier to use Facebook, make sure you listen to our Facebook ads in tourist towns run down.

Have you worked with the local concierges, hotels, tour operators, and airport tourism guides?

We have a discussion about the issues with TripAdvisor and Yelp and some of your options for dealing with them.  Do you actively manage them, ignore them, build your own channel for customers?

We talk about Trip Guides and some ideas about how to be listed in those Top 10 things to do in YOUR TOWN.

We look at Lonely Planet and the effect that it had for Ferg Burger.

What is your signature dish, does it fit in with your tourist message and how are you marketing it?

Skyline Restaurant

What can you sell? T-Shirts, sauces?  Part of something to take home for the tourists?

Seasonality is always an issue, so we talk about building a database and focusing on locals for the quiet times. You will have your regulars, even if it is only every two years.

Leave a review, hit us up on Facebook, and Linkedin.

Let us know if you are going to the NRA show!!

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.


Podcast transcript on How to market your Restaurant in a Tourist Town

James Eling: Hey, it’s James from Marketing4Restaurants. Welcome to episode 41 of Secret Sauce, the restaurant marketing podcast. How to market a restaurant in a tourist town.

Voiceover: Some restaurants are quiet, lose money, and the owner works 70 hours a week. Other restaurants are busy, profitable, and the owners work a few hours a day. What’s the difference? They have a secret sauce. Join James from Marketing4Restaurants as he helps you come up with your recipe for restaurant success, your Secret Sauce.

James: Hey, hey everyone. Welcome back, thank you so much for tuning in this week. Last week’s episode, leadership, been getting a lot more comments back than I thought I would because I wasn’t too sure how well received this would be. But, you know what, it’s obvious that some people are thinking that leadership is something that’s really important, and probably missing in their restaurant. And, to tell you the truth, so many of the restaurants that I go into and you talk to the owner, or you even just talk with the staff, you can tell that leadership is not a big priority in that restaurant. And it really does hold them back. So, if you haven’t listened to it, have a listen. I think we covered a lot of really interesting ground.

Now, before we get into all of the excitement of marketing a restaurant in a tourist town, and it is exciting, we’ve got some super exciting news. We are going to the NRA show, we are all booked in. We’ve got out tickets, we’ve got our flights booked, we’ve got out accommodation booked. We’re staying in the congress hotel, which is haunted, it’s going to be super exciting. I literally cannot wait. So, if you’re going to the NRA (National Restaurant Association) show, hit us up because we’re happy to meet up and have a chat about your restaurant. We’ve got a show special, so anyone who signs up now and mentions the NRA show, so literally it’s just going to be Secret Sauce people who are in on this deal, or if you follow us on Facebook.

We’re going to do an extra hour of consulting and that consulting’s going to be with me. So, I’ll sit down with you. If you’re in Chicago, we could do it in your restaurant, which would be super awesome. If not, we’ll do it over Skype like we do for lots of other restaurant owners all around the world now. We’re in nine countries, which is super exciting. And super keen to grow it into more countries, as well. If you’re not going to the NRA show, you should really have a think. That’s the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, in May. It’s a huge show, they get about 80,000 people there. A huge amount of educational content there, as well as just so many people with so many ideas that would work in so many different restaurants. There is a lot to cover, it’s a huge shoe. We’re really excited about it.

So, if you’re going, hit us up because we’d love to meet you there. Now, how to market a restaurant in a tourist town. I really love this topic and it’s something that I’m really passionate about. There are so many really interesting ways that you can market yourself in a restaurant town. And it’s fundamentally different to your normal restaurant. A normal restaurant is made up of regulars, and so they will be a core of people who are going to come in all the time. And you can rely on that trade. And then, depending on how successful and how often people will come back to your restaurant, that depends on how much marketing you need to do.

Now, in a tourist town where you’ve got a large number of people who are continually coming through, that can be really difficult. You’ve got to continually market because the population changes, sometimes every seven days. Now, that makes it really difficult but it also makes it really easy, because – and I’m thinking of tourist towns like Queenstown, some parts of the Gold Coast – they will have a large part of the population changing every seven days. Now, the cool thing about that is that these people are probably going to be looking for somewhere to eat, quite often. So, it’s a really, really big opportunity. You’ve got people who are actively out there looking for your product. So, what we want to do is we want to go through a lot of the things that we have seen work really well for people who are operating in a tourist town.

The first thing that you want to be thinking about is your website. You want to be thinking about the SEO, the search engine optimization. Because people are going to be looking for places to eat. Now, you’ve got to think about it and, you know, marketing is all about the psychology, it’s all about the moment, it’s all about the interaction that you’re trying to target. You’ve got to think about it, these people are going to be searching on their mobile phone. So, if you don’t have a mobile optimized website, you are wasting so much of your marketing effort. Because people are going to be standing there on a street corner, trying to make a decision about where to eat. Now, I’m actually really passionate about this, because I’ve been that guy on the street corner. And I want to go and say to someone, “You know what, I’ve been flying for, you know 12,” we’re in Australia, so every time we go to the US we’ve been flying for what seems like four days or something. You just want to make a really easy decision. You just want to find some food that’s going to be good. And so many restaurants make it really hard to make a decision about that.

A mobile optimized website that can be found in Google, that’s got some photos that you think, “Yes, that’s exactly what I want to eat. Exactly what I want to eat.” It’s not overly difficult. The next component though that you want to be thinking about is your Google My Business account, right. And that is absolutely critical for one reason, it feeds into Google Maps. So, people are going to be using Google Maps because this is the big thing. How do people get to your restaurant, okay? If you go to a big capital city, there will be people who are going to be tourist there. They are going to be sitting, “Okay, this is where I am now, I don’t know where I am. I don’t understand this city, it’s all a bit weird. I don’t even know what street I’m on. This is my map, this is where I am. I’m now looking for restaurants. I’m looking for happy hours. I’m looking for a bar. I’m looking for a pizza restaurant. I’m looking for Chinese food.”

Whatever it is that you offer, people are going to be searching for that actually on your map, then they’re going to click through to the website. So, they’re going to find you and think, “I could walk that far,” or, “That’s not going to cost me too much via Uber.” If it’s a little bit difficult to get to your restaurant, and I’ve seen this in Queenstown in New Zealand, which is a fantastic tourist town, there are people who will pick you up from your hotel and take you to their restaurant, and they’ll drop back, as well. Now, obviously that’s not going to work if you’re too far out. But these guys are, like, 10 minutes out and they understand that there’s a large pack of population in Queenstown, and they’re never ever going to get out to their restaurant. It’s too far away. So, that’s one of the services that they offer.

Now, I actually think that that’s a fantastic service because it means that you can then drink. You don’t have to worry about driving out to the place. You can just have a few drinks, it’s not going to matter. You know you’re going to get back to your hotel really safely. Have you thought about doing pickups? I know that that works for some restaurants really, really, really well. But make sure that your Google My Business account is completely setup. Do a search in your town for restaurants. Are you coming up on the map? Something to really think about. Now, the next thing: Facebook Ads. And I know, you know, a lot of people have concerns about Facebook advertising. They say that Facebook doesn’t work and you’ve got to remember it’s pay to play now. I think we all need to move on from that. We need to move on from it, because I find that it is incredibly powerful.

One of the things that’s really, really, really interesting in Facebook is that in a tourist town you’ve got a population, a large population that’s changing every seven days. Now, when you think about that, that means that you might only need to run one or two ads on Facebook and you could run them for the entire tourist season. They’ll see it one, or two, or three times. Then they leave. Then someone else replaces them in that hotel room, that’s a new customer to see your ad. So, it’s very easy to run Facebook campaigns. We talk to restaurants and they’re trying to come up with two or three campaigns a month, because they know that their targeting regulars. They’re really keen to get those regulars who are going to buy repeatedly.

And so, they’re always trying to come up with a new message, or a new angle, or a new item. In a tourist town, it’s the customers that are new. So, your existing Facebook campaign can continue. Definitely come up with 10 campaigns. Test and measure which ones work best, test and measure which campaigns work best against which demographics. Now, because one of the things that a lot of people don’t understand some of the advanced targeting that you can do in Facebook. This is one thing, you can target people who are traveling within five miles of your location, so they are traveling but within your area. They are the tourists. Now, it doesn’t get any easier than that. Let’s mix it up a little. Let’s target people who speak German and let’s get an ad on Fiverr, get someone on Fiverr to translate it into German.

And, you know what, wouldn’t be the first time we’ve just used Google translate to translate something. It’s really interesting when you look at people, because, you know, in marketing you’re always trying to get that sound of the album needle scratching on a record player. That disconnect.

If you have an ad for a local restaurant that is in a foreign language, because they’re going to be seeing lots of ads that are English, if it’s in German and they speak German, they’re going to go, “Wow. This is pretty cool.” Which, you know, as a little aside, if you’re targeting tourists, do you have a German menu? Do you have a Chinese menu? Do you have a Japanese menu? On your website if you say, “We have a Japanese menu,” people are just going to go, “Wow, that would make ordering so much easier.” So, have a think about the demographics of the tourists that you’re trying to target. Now, all of the tourist organizations, they’ll have that kind of information, and you’ll be able to see that on the street.

How many people from Japan, how many people from Germany, how many people speak French, how many speak Spanish? You can then have a multi-lingual approach where you only need to have two or three sentences on the website, on the front page, you know. “We’ve got a Spanish menu. We’ve got a Chinese menu.” People are going to look at it and go, “Look at this, these guys have got a Chinese menu.” Now, have the menu, run the ad to people who speak Mandarin that says that you’ve got a Mandarin menu and they’re in Queenstown, or they’re in Chicago, or they’re in whatever tourist town it is that you want.

Get that formula right, so get the image right, get the heading right, get the text right. And you can then, if there’s enough of those people, you could run that for the entire tourist season. What would you pay? I would have thought $2 a day. Now, to get a return on that, if you ran that every day, if you were in one of those tourist areas that was popular 365 days a year, you’re looking at spending $730. When someone comes in who is Chinese and says, “The Chinese menu please,” you know that they’ve probably seen that ad. Something to think about.

Now, the other component, of course, you know, I always think, you know, don’t just do all digital. What about some of the none digital things that we can think about? So, the first thing is if you got a Chinese language menu, put that in the window. Same for German. Same for all of the languages that you’re going to translate into, so that people walking by – don’t give up on fighting the walk-in battle. So many people and everyone knows my pet hate is restaurants that don’t put their menu in the window. If you’re looking for people who are trying to make a decision, make that decision easy for them, put the menu in the window. Ideally with some photos.

Very, very popular in Asian countries because they get a lot of people who don’t speak the local language, so they’ll have their menus with the photos, “Yes, that’s what I want.” Point to it, “That please.” Make it easy for the people who are trying to eat in your restaurant, that’s the first thing. Menu with photos in the window. Now, the other thing that I think is really, really interesting is so many people ignore the places where tourists would go for information.

So, in the airport you see all of those places about, you know, these are the restaurants, here are the tours that you can do. And Queenstown’s fantastic, you know, there’s the jetboats, the bungee jumping, AJ Hackett’s how awesome is that place? I jumped off the big bridge, that was awesome. What are the other things, you know, horse riding through the Lord of the Rings type area. There’s all of those sort of things and the restaurants. Now, so they’ll be run by tourism companies and you’ll need to pay to, you know, you sort of like rent a little space in there. It’s easy. Put it in there and then put a coupon in there. Now, the coupon is not so much the discount. The discount’s a little component of it. The big thing is you want people to hand that coupon in to say, “You know, I’ve got this coupon. It’s specific to the one that you put at the airport, so you know that that channel is working for you. If it’s costing you $500 a month, you then look at it and go, “Well, I got $500 worth of meals.” That’s not a good deal.

Or, you know, did you get 50 people coming in? That’s a much better deal. Create your flyers with a coupon for redeeming, so that you can track your marketing campaigns. Now, so it starts with the airport. It then goes to the hotels. The tour operators. Tour guides. Can you word up the tour guides to say, “Have you eaten at this place? That’d be one of the best places that you can eat in this town.” Concierges. Now, I know restaurants that will invite concierges regularly, so that – the concierges job, because I’ve been on the other end of it. “Where’s a good place to eat? Where’s a place that the locals would eat?”

I personally don’t like tourist traps, some people do. I’ll go to them every now and then, but some people love them. I’ll be specific, you know, where is a place that the locals would go to and I’m looking for that recommendation from the concierge. And I rate the hotel on how good the concierge is in providing those unique dining experiences. We’ll talk about the product that you sell in a little while, but the concierges. They’re really, really important people in this equation. Do you invite them and their partners to their restaurant? Because it’s so much better when the concierge says, “So, there’s three places that I can send you to. But there was a place I went to last month and they had a ribs dish that was just amazing. It’s one of the best ribs dishes that I’ve ever had.” Or, “They have this amazing, you know, insert dish here. I had it about four weeks ago.” That’s the kind of recommendation you want. Not the, “Well, here’s three restaurants that people say are really good.” “I was there last month,” that’s what you want your concierges to be saying. Now, get your service to be asking the question, “How did you hear about us?” “The concierge recommended us.” “Fantastic, what hotel was it?”

If you’re getting enough traffic from those hotels then, you know, it’s worthwhile ringing them up and saying, “Look, we’d love you to come in.” You know, you should be aiming to get them in, comping them and their partners, quarterly. If they’re able to drive enough traffic to you, I think it’s a no-brainer.

Now, some people, you know, they might be staying at a backpacker. A lot of those places will have information where you can put your flyers in there. Some of them you’ll have to pay, some of them you won’t. Well worthwhile having ones, you know, maybe you just have a stamp on it so that you can stamp it with the place of where it came from, so you can start to get an idea where those coupons are coming from.

Some people are going to do it from an electronic point of view, which is fantastic, because it’s nice and measurable. TripAdvisor. Yelp. Are you managing your reviews in there? And I had someone ask me, you know, “When are you going to do a podcast on how to manage your TripAdvisor reviews?” There’s probably not enough in it to do single episode. But I think it’s well worth talking about Trip Advisor now, because it’s interesting in some towns that rely on their regulars, they don’t really care what people write in Trip Advisor. I’ve spoken to restaurants and it’s like, “Yeah, there’s Trip Advisor. Yeah, we don’t do that. We don’t do TripAdvisor.” Like, they literally do not care, and that’s fine. That’s one way of doing it. It works really well when you’ve got a strong database and a really loyal clientele.

You go to Queenstown, every second restaurant, every restaurant actually not every second, every restaurant. “How do I manage Trip? How do I manage Trip?” So, what are the best practices? Now, I think that there’s a couple of things that you can do. One of the first things that I think is really important is to work out where people are coming from. So, when someone comes in new, ask them, “Where did you hear about?” Now, was it a walk-in? Was it from the concierge? Was it from TripAdvisor? Now, when you talk to the guys from TripAdvisor, they say that, you know, “It’s the largest platform in the world and every single person is planning their entire itinerary using TripAdvisor.”

Now, the interesting thing is that the guys from Yelp say the exact same thing, it can’t all be right. In your area, who is it that’s providing the most information and how is it that they’re getting? And you don’t want to be thinking about just you, you want to be thinking who are the other people? Who are the other tourist operators out there? Where do they think that it’s coming from? And I say who do they think, you really want to know. You really want to be asking people and starting to work out what the common themes are. Because there are geography patches where some platforms work a lot better than others. Now, the first thing is that you can be very professional with it. So, I think the probably the safest approach is to monitor it every day and thank people if they’ve written a nice review, wish them, you know, let them know that you want them to come back.

If they haven’t had a good response, then you need to start dealing with it in the exact same way that you would deal with it if someone said, you know, “I wasn’t happy with the meal,” as they were paying their check. Deal with it in a professional manner, “We’re really sorry you didn’t have a good time. We work really hard. If you’d like to provide, you know, all of our customers with a great experience,” or whatever it is that you do, whatever your unique selling proposition is. “I’m sad that we didn’t hit the mark this time. Please contact me and we’ll see what we can do to sort this out for you.” That is generally the way, probably the safest way. Now, the big issue that I’ve got though, is that it’s not as straightforward as that. We talked to people who get people saying, “I didn’t like the food. If you don’t give me that dish for free, then I’m going to write a bad review on TripAdvisor.” How do you deal with that? And this comes down to what sort of restaurant is it? What sort of person are you? I think you need to have guidelines around how you’re going to respond to that. It’s difficult complaining to TripAdvisor, they’re very reluctant to take down reviews. We’ve had trouble trying to deal with them when a review’s been completely fake. That happens all the time.

We’ve had people saying, you know that it’s fake, you know, “We were in on Monday night and the food was awful.” The restaurant’s not open on Monday night. We’ve had people who’ve written reviews on Trip Advisor before a restaurant’s even opened. We’ve had people complaining about menu items that aren’t even on the menu. They’re the obvious cases. Then you’ve got the quite night when you knew that the 15 covers that you had in and someone’s complained about something that clearly wasn’t them. You can complain to Trip. In our experience it doesn’t work that well. They’re hesitant to do anything about fake reviews. How do you deal with that? And I think, you know, this is where the art of replying to TripAdvisor really comes into it.

Obviously, “Well, that’s unusual because we’re not open on a Monday night,” or, “The restaurant hasn’t even opened.” I’ve seen chefs who’ve written that, you know, “Thank you for the feedback, we open next week.” But when you do engage with these people, it can be difficult. And the thing that makes it even more difficult is that, if you hunt in the right places, you can find companies that will write 100 reviews on how good you are and 100 reviews on how bad your competitors are. This is what makes TripAdvisor and the other guides so treacherous I think, because you’ve got people who are being paid to troll your restaurant. And that makes it really unfair.

I’m surprised that TripAdvisor doesn’t do more to try, they say that they work really hard to stop fake reviews. I’ve tried to use Trip Advisor in the past and I’m much more hesitant to do that now because of the fact that I’ve gone to places that they’ve said, you know, “This is the best dessert bar in San Francisco,” and the place has been so dingy and horrible I haven’t even gone in there. You know, they talk about how amazing it is and yet, there’s no one there. It’s like, wow, where did this come from? Who wrote this review? How can a place get this many good reviews when it’s clearly not that great? There’s places that I’ve gone to that have received absolutely glowing reviews on Trip Advisor, I won’t mention any names. But actually, going there and you think – and I don’t know whether the chef, I don’t know, clearly wasn’t working that night – but the menu was uninspiring, the environment was ordinary, it was expensive, and the food was just yucky. You know, just a really, really, really poor experience.

Now, the interesting thing of course is that I remember sitting there in a restaurant in San Francisco looking at it and thinking, “This can’t be the same restaurant. This is just bizarre.” I have come to a restaurant looking for a certain experience, the experience that these people are describing, and clearly not getting it. And I think that it’s one of those cases where they’ve gotten either all of their friends to write reviews, or they’ve paid one of these companies. It is really interesting when you get these review sites. I’m much more likely to write up on Facebook, “Hey, I’m going to Chicago. What restaurants would people recommend?”

Now, the good thing is we’re going to be meeting up with some awesome chefs over there, they’ll have some amazing recommendations. So, the people I’m going with are already going to have recommendations. That’s the best one. Which leads me to the other response with Trip Advisor, and that is just to do nothing. Think about Trip Advisor as a marketing funnel. So, you want to have multiple channels in your marketing plan.

I know some restaurants that are really successful that don’t have review sites in their channels. So, they’ll run Facebook ads, they will wrong strong PR campaigns, they will work really aggressively to get glowing reviews for the restaurant by doing all of the things that are required to get those reviews, and then they just don’t worry about Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor just happens. If it’s good, it’s good. They don’t even look at it. I know some people who don’t look at their Trip Advisor reviews just because it’s too painful. They see what people write and sometimes they don’t know whether it’s dodgy or not. So, that’s the other course of action you can take. You can do nothing. You know, build marketing channels outside of TripAdvisor.

Or, the most dangerous but highest reward course of action is to write those humorous, funny, snarky responses to the people who’ve written the poor reviews. We’ve seen it work really well, but I think it’s one of those things you have to be so careful when you do it. So, there’s people who’ve said, I know there was a fine dining restaurant in Australia, and someone wrote a really awful review of it and they say, “Wow, you know, we remember you. You were the one’s with the kids that had absolutely no control whatsoever, you couldn’t take the hint about controlling your kids. Your kids were screaming, they were putting off all of the other guests. We work really hard to provide a fine dining experience so, from now on, no kids thanks so you.” Now, that got national coverage and people were really quite happy with the fact because they were going for a fine dining experience and they didn’t want kids running around.

Now, you have to be really clear about what it is that your restaurant is about, and who it is that your target customers are. If you’re clear in that, then your responses on Trip Advisor, that kind of helps. “Well, we’re a fine dining restaurant, you had kids here. No, we didn’t have a high chair for your kids, because we don’t want you to bring your kids. We particularly don’t want you to bring your kids when you’re going to let them run around and run a muck and upset all of our other guests.” If you’ve got a clear idea about who it is that you’re after, people can see that and it’s like, “Yeah, well, it’s a fine dining restaurant. I want to take my wife there for a good meal, I don’t want to have other people’s kids running around. That would be crazy talk.” So, that’s how I think you can deal with Trip Advisor. You can either monitor it on daily basis, reply professionally, do nothing, don’t have it as a channel.

Or, you can be the witty, snarky, provide those interesting responses. Sometimes a mix of all the three. Go back to my first point though, find out where people are coming from. These guys will hit you up for advertising and I find it really interesting. Some of these platforms they charge quite a lot for their advertising and yet people get very little in the way of accountable customers back for it. You know, online marketing, it’s accountable. You should always make it accountable. So, just be very careful with that. And ask people, you know, “Where did you find out from us?”

Now, next thing trip guides. There’ll be all of these sort of things particularly on the net, you know. What are the top 10 things to do in Queenstown? What are the things to do in Queenstown? Now, you can tackle this in a couple of ways. The first thing is that you can write that on your website. You can start targeting, you know, “One of the best things to do in Queenstown is to come to our restaurant.” You can also start, who is it that writes these guides? Get them to come out to your restaurant, you know, “Hey, we think that we’ve got the best burgers in this area,” you know. I particularly think of, when we talk about this, I think about the Fergburger in Queenstown. I’ve eaten in a lot of places that say they have the best burgers in the world. It’s pretty much every time you eat one of those burgers you think, “Wow, this is a great burger, but it ain’t as good as the burgers at Fergburger.” Absolutely amazing, they really are a meal to behold. You know, one of the things that’s amazing, people will queue for an hour at lunch time to get a Fergburger, they are that popular.

Now, the interesting this is I was talking to, I haven’t spoken to the guys form Fergburger I’d love to talk to them, I’d love to get them on the show to hear their story if they’re listening. But I was speaking to some restaurant owners in Queenstown and of course everyone, if you run a restaurant or a café, you know, sooner or later the conversation turns to Fergburger. And the interesting thing was there was someone there, Fergburgers have been in Queenstown for a very, very long time. And their burgers were always really, really, really good. But they were just a really, really good burger joint. And there’s a couple of them in Queenstown. There’s a couple of burgers that you go to and you’re feeling like a burger and you don’t want to wait an hour, then there’s other places you go to and they do really good burgers. They’re not as good as Fergburger, of course. The interesting thing was though, that Fergburger got written up in Lonely Planet as one of those must do things in Queenstown. You can’t go to Queenstown without getting a Fergburger. And that started their popularity. They were never super popular, they were one of those really good burger joints. Then they became the burger joint.

And I think so much effort has gone into improving the quality there because it is now, it’s not a burger joint, it is Fergburger. So, they have so much more in the way of resources to be able to do research, to be able to refine their processes, to make sure that it’s replicable, to invest in all of the policies and procedures, to get everything just perfect. To make the best burger probably in the world. I haven’t eaten burgers all over the world but, you know, it could be the best burger in the world. It beats a lot of the ones out there that I’ve ever tried. So, for them, as far as we know, getting in Lonely Planet that was a big thing. Now, so how do you get into Lonely Planet? Well, I’m glad you asked. Now, I don’t have any inside running on Lonely Planet. I’d like to talk, I’ve reached out to the guys at Lonely Planet, as well, because I would be really keen to understand what their process is. But, you know what, when you’re writing for any of those books out there, Lonely Planet is just one of them there’s a few of them out there, what is it that you’re looking for? They’re looking for an experience.

I still think that their burgers are really cheap, for something that you queue for that long for, pretty epic. So, they started off with something that was really, really, really good and it’s a little bit iconic. You know, they’ve got Ferg there: the guy, the story, they’re iconic, the recipes, there’s something a bit different about their recipes. So, they made an effort to standout. If you’re cooking Indian curries it’s very, very difficult unless you’re the only Indian restaurant, in which case if you’re looking for a curry then go to this place, it’s really hard to standout. Unless you’re doing something that makes you, what effort are you doing to standout? What have you done with the menu? What have you done with the price? What have you done with the experience?

What are the things that you do to really make an experience out of it? How do you define your experience and another example from Queenstown. So, the Skyline restaurant. Now, I think that that is a must eat restaurant. It’s quite expensive and the food’s pretty good, it’s nowhere near good enough for the price that they charge for it. I don’t like to say, you know, sort of negative things on the podcast but there’s a ‘but’. So, you catch a gondola up to the restaurant, and view from there is absolutely breathtaking. So, you’re looking down on the town of Queenstown as the sun goes down. As the sun goes down you can see all of that. They’ve got these massive windows, they’ve absolutely killed the view from there. It’s completely amazing. You’ve got the sun that goes down, you can see the lake going off into the distance, you can see the mountains in the background. It is a completely amazing view, it’s a view restaurant. That’s what they sell and, you know what, it’s completely worth it for that. It is a pretty good smorgasbord, but, yeah. All up, the experience is fantastic and they get so many people in there, because it’s one of those, you know, it’s well worth the trip when you go to Queenstown. They have designed the entire restaurant around that. So, they’ve created that experience. What it is that you’re doing to really capture what it is? And so, Queenstown it’s a mountain town, they have the best view. Hands down, they have the best view.

So, they build a restaurant around that. Fergburger, hands down the best burgers. There’s the queue and nothing get’s a queue like a queue. They’ve got the queue. So, I ask the question would the burger taste as good if you didn’t queue for an hour to get it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I suspect that that may be the case, it’s still an epic burger. It’s the best burger in Queenstown. So, how is it that your trying to set your restaurant apart? What is the signature meal that you’re doing? I think back to one of our old customers, a seafood restaurant on the Gold Coast called Bugzies. Really great operators. They had some internal issues which caused the restaurant to close, which was really quite sad because they were really, really, really successful. And it’s interesting the big thing with their website, now they had a big hand in their design of the website. The website didn’t look that great, it had a coffee in the top left-hand corner or top right-hand corner, I can’t remember which now. I’m not even sure why, because it was a seafood restaurant. The big thing that they did though was they targeted from an SEO point of view, tourists in Broad Beach, which part of the Gold Coast. Nailed the Google Maps component before people were really focusing on it. We’d helped them with that, put up a strategy around that.

And so, when you go to the Gold Coast a lot of people think seafood. They had a seafood platter and they had amazing photos of this seafood platter. I’d eaten the platter, I’d eaten there multiple times, it was my go to restaurant there. And it was quite well priced, and people saw it and it was like, “I want a seafood restaurant in Broad Beach,” and there’s plenty of them. You know, they’re a dime a dozen. They saw the picture of it and it was like, “Wow, that looks epic. How much is it? Yup, sold. Bang, I’m in.” Now, I remember once I gave the owner, I sent him an email and said, no I think I called him, and said, you know, “Can you fit us in tonight?” And he goes, “What time?” And I said, “Anytime,” and he goes, “Can you do 5:00?” And it was like, “Okay.” We went in there at 5:00, by 6:30 the place was full. They were turning people away on a Wednesday night. When you get that right, you can really crush it. And these guys got it right. Great SEO.

Like, what is it that people on the Gold Coast are looking for? What is it that they’re after? Seafood. Right, let’s work really hard to have an awesome seafood platter, and let’s get a great photo of it. It’s that signature dish that is the start of really creating that successful tourism restaurant. The signature dish, well-marketed to people. And you know the interesting thing, they came along to us because they wanted a better way of managing their TripAdvisor reviews and they had that review, “Oh my god, I got there the food was okay. But I got food poisoning and I had diarrhoea and vomiting and I thought I was going to die,” that was the review. And he said, “I’ve got to do something to fix this.” So, we came up with a whole strategy around that and simply having that signature dish, which he already had, a great photo of it was a really, really, really powerful message. And I think, I just want everyone to think about it, what is the call to action? What is that signature meal when people go to the town that you’re in, what is it that they’re looking for? And, you know what, I don’t think that it has to be, there is plenty of scope there to do something unusual.

One of my favourite little places is there’s a little café in Queenstown called the Empanada Kitchen, and these guys worked in fine dining restaurants in Europe and in South America and they cooked empanadas. And it’s a little tiny kiosk, it’s out the back of actually a public toilet. So, the location’s not good but he said to us it was the one thing that they could afford. Now, the thing is he is absolutely crushing it. They are the best empanadas I’ve had. Now, I haven’t had empanadas all over the world. I’ve had them in South America though. And just crushingly good and I think that the big opportunity for them is to say, you know, “Don’t go to Queenstown without having an empanada from the Empanada kitchen.” It’s a simple message, just a couple of photos, talk about the sauces, because I mean chimichurri sauce, how awesome is chimichurri sauce. Good chimichurri sauce is just epic. They’ve got it in bucket loads. It’s just really cool, really exciting. They’ve got a chalkboard, so they’re cooking up different recipes all the time and their recipes are really interesting. Like, they read well. They read really well. You sort of think of it and you go, “Wow, yeah I’d eat that. That sounds cool.” Now, and the other thing is when you eat that empanada you go, “Yes, this is an epic empanada. The crust is just right. It’s got the right amount of crunchiness and the flavours in there, they’re just amazing. So, they’ve got an A-grade product. There’s no doubt about that.

The value is epic, particularly on a summers day. Because they’re just in front of this nice little park, everyone’s just laying there. They’re sunbaking. It’s right next to the lake. Really, really good location. Not sure what their rent is. There’s no actual kitchen in there, it’s a very, very small place. The rent is probably really low. Very, very cost effective for them. But you don’t think empanadas when you think Queenstown. I think that there’s a huge opportunity there for them to be able to do that. So, think a little bit outside of the box when it comes to your signature meal, or your signature dish, or the theming, the concept for your restaurant. Now, next thing, what can you sell? So, tourists, what do tourists want? They want a memento. Because, you know, life is all about the places that you go and the experiences that you have.

Just yesterday I was talking with my wife and we were talking in our lounge room and we’ve got a photo, it’s a really daggy photo that was taken when we were on a cruise ship in one of the restaurants. You know, they have these photographers, they come by and then they try and sell you these hideously expensive photos at the end of the cruise. Now, we bought it because of the fact that, you know, it was a good little family photo and we’ve got it up there because it reminds us of the restaurant, it reminds us of the cruise, it reminds us happy times. What are the mementos that you sell in your tourist town that people can go, “Yes, I want that t-shirt.” You know, the daggy t-shirt that, you know, that celebrates the town that you’re in. Is it, you know, like the empanada kitchen, they sell their sauces. Is there an opportunity there? What is the memento that you can sell, the upsell that you can have in there? Is it a cookbook? I’ve bought plenty of cookbooks from restaurants that I’ve been to, because it reminds me of the place that you go to. I’m not buying a cookbook, I’m buying something that I can put on my shelf then I’m going to go and I’m looking for a cookbook, you think, “Yeah, I remember when we went to Queenstown. I remember when we went to Chicago, San Francisco,” wherever it was. Think about something that you can do with that to increase the average sale for each of your customers.

Now, email marketing. I think that there’s a lot to be said for email marketing for a very, very, very good reason. People say, “Well, we’re in a tourist town and people are only here for seven days. I can’t get their email and then send an email out to them to get them to come back. They’re not going to come back to my restaurant.” Well, first off, people do come back when they find something. You know, some tourists tend to be very, you know, they find a good place and be like, “Yes, we’ll eat here two or more times.” Do you have a menu that invites people to come back? You know, that’s the other thing. If you’ve got one signature item. You know, at Fergburger you would go back there to try two or three of the burgers. Do you have a menu that supports that so that you can get, of the seven nights that people are in your town, can you get them to come back? But it’s more than that. I view myself as a regular of certain restaurants, and I may only go there once every two years.

There is a coffee shop that I love in Taipei, it is just around the corner from the hotel that I normally go to and the woman doesn’t speak English at all. But she has an English menu on the counter which I can point to, so I can get my strong flat white. And she makes a really good coffee. Now, I’ve tried so many different coffees around the hotel. These guys make the best one and she’s nice and friendly. And it was interesting, the last time we were in there, by the end of the trip, we had about 10 people from the group that I was over there with all drinking in that place. I was getting a coffee there every day, and I will get my coffee from them the next time that I go back. I view myself as a regular, that’s my coffee shop. It’s just that I have to be in Taipei to be there. So, that goes the same for restaurants.

I get emails from restaurants in Florida. And it’s like, you know what, I don’t even know when I’m going back to Florida but hey, A, I like getting that email because it reminds me of the epic restaurant there, and B, when I do go back to Florida I will be looking these guys up because they are one of my regular restaurants in that town. So, think about that. There is value about building your email database, even though it’s full of tourist. The other component of that, and this is where we get to the nasty component of the tourism. When it’s tourist season and it’s super busy, what about the off season? So, there’s a lot people out there who just really eek out a minimal existence during the off season. And, you know, I’ve spoken and the game that they play is, “Let’s to try to lose as little money as possible. We know that we are going to go six months and run a loss. We’re just trying to minimize that loss.”

So, you’ve got to be fighting for every single regular and every tourist who comes in the off season. What are you doing with the tourist board? You know, what’s the tourist board to try to build your off-peak tourism numbers, but what are you doing for the locals? Fergburger, and Queenstown’s quite lucky because of the fact that, you know, their off season very small because it’s a beautiful summer town and it’s a beautiful winter town for all of the skiing. So, they have some quite time sort of in the middle, spring and fall time. But locals all know that they can ring up and they can skip the queue. That’s the way that they support their locals, because they know. And then the locals all come there because it’s their burger joint and when it’s a bit quieter, they know that they can actually get in without needing to phone up.

What is it that you’re doing to build your regular database? And that’s where you fall back to all of the other things that we do, and it’s interesting, I’ve spoken to people and say, “You know, there’s only 20,000 people in this town. It’s far too small to be able to support us, so yeah. We just target the very few tourists who are here.” It’s like, are you crazy? There’s more than enough people there to be able to sustain you, at least decrease losses that you’re making. Because some people, you know, you’re massively successful during the busy time and I would think about going back and having a listen to the secrets of restaurant profitability podcast there.

One of the things that they’ve done at Fergburger is that they do a lot of their prep offsite. So, they’ve got a limited area from which they can prepare their burgers. So, they literally just do the cooking. All of the prep is done in a factory. And they just bring it all over. The buns are cooked in a separate location, so that they can maximise throughput. Even then, they still have an hour long wait. What is it that you’re doing to maximise your throughput? If you’ve got a lot of people queueing up, maybe you don’t want to be having dishes that are incredibly difficult to prepare.

Maybe you should be thinking about the high throughput dishes so that you can increase the velocity, decrease the time spent, increase the cash they’re bringing in per burner or per hour in the restaurant. So, when we spoke to Ivan, Ivan spoke about, you know, how a lot of your revenue comes in the Fridays and Saturdays. In a tourist area, it’s not like that. All of your revenue comes in in the busy months even. So, you’re running, you’re peddling as fast as you can because you’ve got a large number of tourists. Are you maximizing the revenue that you’ve got there? When was the last time you engineered your menu? What can you do to increase the profit? You want to get to the point where, and I was talking to a restaurant owner last week, they shut down for four months of the year. They make so much money, that they’re able to shut down, they take a holiday for four months. No work.

Now, who wouldn’t kill for that kind of opportunity to be able to take four months off? Now, they work really, really, really hard and really long hours for eight months, but then they have four months off. I know a lot of people who work really, really, really hard six days a week, or seven days a week, and never get a holiday. These guys have engineered their menu around being profitable for that time. If you can’t do that, or if the tourism season isn’t as high to be able to support that, then you need to be thinking about your regular customers. What is it that you can do to support the locals? How do you get them to keep coming back?

So, obviously building the database and, of course, so obviously there’s the free online restaurant booking system. If you’re doing online orders, the free restaurant online ordering system, as well. They’re great ways to build your database. So, there you have it. We’ve covered a lot of ground, I didn’t think that this was going to go for that long. But we’ve covered a lot of stuff. We’ve talked about some of my favourite restaurants in Queenstown, a beautiful town. If you ever get the chance, go down to New Zealand. The glorious South Island. Check out Fergburger, check out the Empanada Kitchen. Have a think about, the first thing you want to think about is your website. A lot of people are going to see it, they’re going to be looking at it on a mobile phone. Make sure you’ve got some great photos. Have a think about what is on your menu.

Have a think about your signature item and the photos that you’ve got for it. They’re the kind of things that are going to get people in. Make sure you’re optimized for maps, can people find you? More and more people are using maps to find restaurants. It’s really critical that you’ve got that sorted out. Think about Facebook ads. They can be incredibly effective in tourism areas, because you don’t need to come up with a whole series of ads. You can test and adjust, find some ones that convert really well, and just keep running them. Concierges, tour operators, airports, all of those places. Have a think about them. Have a think about your Trip Advisor and other review sites. What is your process for dealing with those? Are you going to completely ignore them? Are you going to manage each one? It’s up to you, both of them can work. I know restaurants that run both of those strategies.

I think you need to be thinking, you definitely need to be thinking about your marketing strategy. And just don’t leave it because you haven’t thought about it. If you’re going to leave it, leave it because you’ve got a reason there. Or, if you do manage it, make sure that everyone knows how they want you to respond. Have a think about how you can get listed in the top 10 things to do in your tourist town. Have a think about how you will get listed in something like Lonely Planet.

And then lastly, think about you’re selling to tourists, what are the other components that you might be able to sell to them? You know, the t-shirts, the sauces, your cookbook. What are the other bits and pieces that they’re going to take to produce that long lasting memory of the trip that they’ve had to your town? So, there you go. Tourism marketing for your restaurant. Plenty of ideas in there. I’d be surprised if you’re doing all of them. Pick and choose a couple and run with them, and grow your business so that you can be a little bit more profitable, work a few less hours, have a bit more fun in your life.

So, leave us a review in iTunes. If you have learnt anything from Secret Sauce, we’d really appreciate it. Particularly, everyone in America. We get so many more people listening in the United States and yet, we don’t have that many reviews. So, please people, leave a review on iTunes, it helps us to spread the word. On Facebook if you see one of our posts, or even one of our crazy Facebook lives where I rabbit on about the podcast, tag a mate in who should be listening to it. I would really appreciate that.

Lastly, hit us up on LinkedIn. Every day now, people are connecting up with us on LinkedIn, and we’re starting to do LinkedIn only type information that we’re putting up there, as well, for our LinkedIn audience. Let us know if you’re going to the NRA show. We’d love to meet up. I’d be super keen to meet up with some people in Chicago. Come in to your restaurant, help you with some of your marketing. That would be super cool. So, yeah. That’s about it. I hope you have a really, really busy week. Bye.

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