So, my lecturer raised a very good point when I went for my tutorial last week. I thought the idea of the restaurant review app for Facebook would be good for people like me, who like sharing their foodie experiences and would quite willingly write a quick, snappy review after dining, Jim pointed out that not many people would be willing to do that if there wasn’t an incentive their.
This got me thinking about what it could be. I started by thinking it could be something like a Nando’s loyalty card, where, when you visit and purchase a meal you get a stamp. Once you have a certain number of stamps, you can get free things with your meal, such as 1/4 of chicken. Because people aren’t going to be able to have a physical loyalty card with the Facebook app being on the internet, I thought there could be some sort of virtual loyalty card online (this would be kind of like the post counter on WordPress that spurs you on to write more).
The way I think this will work is for every review you post, as long as it is over 50 words, you will get a virtual ‘stamp’ which will amount to £2 each. Once you have wrote five reviews you will be able to redeem a £10 printable voucher to use at a restaurant of your choice (as long as they are registered with Toptable and reviews can be written for them). People can also save their stamps so once they have written their first five reviews, they will be able to redeem their voucher for any amount over £10. For example, after seven reviews have been written, if the person writing would like to redeem their voucher for £14, they can do so.
Hopefully, because restaurants will be getting more business from the reviews people write about them, as long as they are positive, they will get more customers so they will allow my application to have these vouchers.
Toptable is the website that I’m aiming to couple my new application for Facebook with. I use Toptable quite frequently, and I think it’s a really handy webiste to help diners choose where they would like to eat. By using their restaurant finder, you can input information like how many diners there will be, the area you would like to eat in and what cuisine you would like to eat. Another handy thing they ask you is how much money you would like to spend per person in the meal, thus allowing you to increase the price if it is a special occasion or decrease it if you’re just going for a quick dinner.
One of the things that makes Toptable good is that it doesn’t just focus on major cities. You can type in your desired town, and it will bring up places around there. This is one of things that it does better than Urbanspoon and the reviews from Time Out. Even though you can search for restaurants in smaller towns however, it does not pick up all of them. Maybe the new service that my Facebook app would offer would encourage independent and even chain restaurants to register with the site so that they could be reviewed by their diners.
I like the way that Toptable highlights if there are any special offers with the many restaurants they display from the search engine. This helps potential diners decide whether they would like to go their or not and also means that expensive restaurants could now be within budget. This could be another feature on the Facebook app so that people can see where they would get the best deals.
“Your guide to what’s happening in the most exciting cities on the planet.”
Time Out is obviously one of the most influential review sites known all around the world as it covers all of the big cities, however, with regards to the UK, it only has reviews from London. Because of this, there are no reviews for restaurants from other towns and cities such as Newcastle, Liverpool or Glasgow, which for my proposed application on Facebook, would be no good, as the whole point of it would be to help people in certain areas find new and exciting places to visit without having to travel very far.
The good thing about Time Out however, is that all of its reviews are written professionally which means that they are all of good quality. Even though having good reviews is important, having critics and professional writers feature on my Toptable application wouldn’t really work. It would take away from the UGC feature of the app and one of the main points of it is that a lot of the time, recommendations from friends and family mean more to people than the opinions of a random stranger who people don’t know. This is going to be one of the USP’s of my application, rather like the share feature on Spotify. Music recommendations from your friends is better than a robot churning out information on what you should be listening to.
Urbanspoon is a restaurant where you can look at reviews and different restaurants in the city or area of your choice. They feature a ‘Talk of the Town’ section when you first open the webpage. As well as this feature, Urbanspoon categorises its restaurants as to their price range, helping users to determine whether they want to go there.
Regardless of how helpful Urbanspoon is, I find the website to be very busy with links all over. This doesn’t make the site very user-friendly and although there are a lot of reviews available from many different users and critics, their could be an argument that this lowers the quality of the writing because of the mass amount of user generated content on the site. This has made me think about the amount of user generated content that would end up on the Facebook app for Toptable in my own application and I think this could be a problem.
Because of this, I think that a star-rating should be employed on my application so that, regardless of the reviewers ability to write, the best restaurants will be viewable from the amount of stars it has been given.
Okay, so, I’ve been given the green light for my restaurant finder/review addition to Toptable which will like up with Facebook and maybe Twitter as well (I think it might be a little more difficult on that site though so that might not be the best idea). Now it’s time to start doing my research.
In the next few posts I’ll be looking at sites were restaurant reviews can be held already such as Urbanspoon, Time Out and food magazines that host them as well as the success that other applications have had on Facebook such as the Guardian and Independent article readers.
Another thing I’ve been told I should think about is some sort of incentive that will spur restaurant goers to write mini reviews and give feedback so their friends and family can see where they have been and what they thought. This incentive will probably be money off of some kind where, if you input your thoughts you get £5 off your next bill or something like that.