Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The steps to bring tourists to your pizzeria

When traveling, finding a good place to eat is always a matter of word-of-mouth from locals, online reviews, ads or coupons you find and convenience to your location. 

Photo by Daniel Lee Perea
Fuel Pizza in Washington, DC
I ate at some pizzerias this weekend while traveling to Washington, D.C. for the DC Shorts Film festival where fellow PMQ staffer Daniel Lee Perea and I had a film playing. But, it was how I got to the pizzerias that is what I want to share with you.

I had found some pizzerias on Twitter and thought they would be fun to try. But with no car and no Metro stop near those places, I quickly learned that I had to find somewhere else.

Our first pizzeria we went to was our first stop because they were  a sponsor of the DC Shorts Film Festival and filmmakers (that was us) received a discount. So, we took our coupon and walked to the pizzeria. It did not require word of mouth because the coupon sold us on trying it out. But it did require doing a search online to find exactly where it was and once we mapped it, we were able to make our way there because it was conveniently located close to the movie theater. 

#1 Coupons and sponsoring local events
Photo by Daniel Lee Perea
Garlic knots are a tasty specialty at Fuel Pizza.
Fuel Pizza started in North Carolina but in the past two years has expanded into the DC area with three locations. The pizzeria started in an old gas station so they have kept the decor the same at each of their restaurants. The pizza place was a sponsor of the film festival meaning their logo was listed in numerous places and a discount was provided as an incentive to eat there. We made it the first place we ate after we got into DC and received our film fest badges and coupons. 

What type of special festivals or non-profit events bring tourists to your area? How can you get involved? Do you find coupons in local newspapers or online draw new business into your pizzeria? Are you providing discounts for people checking into FourSquare? 

Another pizzeria that was a sponsor had vague hours and was closed every time we tried to go there. Their online hours didn't match what was happening at the door. 

(Tip: Be careful to keep your hours updated on your social media with what is really happening at your restaurant!)

#2 Online/Word of Mouth
When visiting the Newseum, we asked an employee what her favorite pizzeria was. It did not take her long to mention "matchbox." We began taking an informal poll asking people we came across during the day what pizzeria we should try. While some others were mentioned, the almost universal answer was matchbox. So, despite having had other plans, we changed course and went online to learn more about the pizzeria before deciding. 

Photo by Daniel Lee Perea
matchbox "open" symbol is their flame at the entrance.

We found matchbox on Yelp and did a quick Internet search which helped us determine that the pizzeria was not only close enough for us to use the Metro and get to it, but the menu, we easily found online, also looked delicious. 

Owned by a larger corporation, matchbox food group, the pizzeria we ate at was the original location in Chinatown. The building was originally a Chinese grocery in a dilapidated area, until the pizzeria opened and helped lead changes making the area a trendy street full of good dining. 

Photo by Daniel Lee Perea
Local brews and the half-and-half margherita and fig pizza
The manager explained that their goal is to let the pizza sell itself. Focusing on fresh ingredients and good food, they do their own social media and marketing but mostly get a lot of word-of-mouth business. 

With recommendations by word-of-mouth to try the fig pizza, and a suggestion from the manager to try the margherita pizza, we did a half-and-half and went for both.

And it was definitely the right choice. Had there not been a menu online to see what options we had, we may still have gone just because word-of-mouth was so strong. But in many a case, not having that menu online would deter me from eating at a place. And apparently, I am not alone in this. 

Locu recently did research that shows that 60% of people say the restaurant menu is the most important factor when deciding where to eat. But 68% of people will go elsewhere if the menu or restaurant information is not up to date online. But with so many food apps and websites out there as well as social media, how do busy pizzerias update their information? 

Photo by Daniel Lee Perea
matchbox indoor bar area 
If unable to keep up to date on every site, from Yelp to FourSquare to Citysearch to Facebook (and so many more), there are new resources to help such as Locu that helps keep your information up-to-date across various platforms. The best part? Locu is free. But if you want more advanced options, there is a $25 a month premium Locu that allows for photo publishing, more templates and other resources. 

You can see the differences here. 

Is your pizzeria already using Locu? What about another service similar to it? If so, we want to hear how your experience has been. 

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