There's a well-known saying that 'the uncertain mind says No'. How many people have come to your front door or window and not come in because they didn't know how the place 'worked'? Consider if these improvements would help them say Yes more often:
More than just Menus in the window. It may be obvious that you do Greek food or fast coffees. If it's not, a short explanation about your food or menu style will be appreciated. Explanations of how payment is made may also help - what cards do you take?
Signify staff who speak another language. Airlines show (and often reward) staff with another language - why don't bars and restaurants? A small flag on a name tag is easy to organise.
Welcome Signs & Menu Translations. Google Translate will automatically translate documents into good-enough versions in different languages. It won't be exact, but your Japanese or Italian visitors will appreciate the effort and courtesy. A short note at the end can ask them to suggest corrections - it brings them in on the joke if something reads a little strangely!
Share local recommendations. Everyone likes to know where the locals go - have 3 or 4 places to recommend to obvious visitors eg a short walk after a meal, a good area for shopping or a great view of the city.
Offer maps and directions. Your local tourist group will have brochures, or do up your own using online resources. Make sure staff know how to use them to point out the post office, train stations or an ATM.
Create a photo opportunity. Here's what the MasterChef Live event had at the entrance last week >>> - a branded photo space. Most of these pictures will be sent via text message or Facebook - how can you create your own?
Have a mobile-friendly website. How does your site look to someone checking it on an iPhone, Blackberry or smart-phone? That's the browser most people use away from home, and many sites need a serious upgrade - goodbye flash animation!
Sell stamps for postcards. Writing is not a lost art, but finding the post office is now a priority when travelling! Make it easy by offering a free souvenir postcards and stamps at cost, and organise the postage.
Offer modern, low-cost souvenirs. It's a feature of many restaurants in the US - keep the cost low so you have hundreds of people wearing your t-shirt as a walking billboards. Find a way to incorporate the web address in the design.
Offer free wireless internet. It's what brings people back during the time they are visiting, not just for the web access but also for coffee and food. Tourists and locals love this - why do so many places resist!?
Make it easy for people to check-in with Social Media. A surprising number of visitors want to share their location with FourSquare or Facebook. Not your taste? Fine, but climb down off your soapbox and make it easy for people who do enjoy them - a proper Facebook Page and informative FourSquare profile.
Understand the power of TripAdvisor and review sites. You may not love every comment posted, but monitor the traffic and use your right-of-reply to thank positive posts and answer critics. Ignoring these will not make them go away.
Profitable Hospitality offers management and cost-control systems (Manuals & CD-ROMs) for restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars and clubs. The systems are based on the extensive consulting and operating experience of CEO Ken Burgin, and enable busy owners and managers to set up complete operating and cost-control systems in minutes, not months. Profitable Hospitality also runs regular management training workshops in the areas of kitchen profit & efficiency, restaurant marketing and functions management. A free monthly e-newsletter keeps you up to date on the latest industry management issues. www.profitablehospitality.com.
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