Restaurant Tastings: What Are They, Why Are They?
If you’ve been following our journey on Instagram, you may have noticed a series of tastings we’ve put together online. What, you may ask, is a tasting, and why is Instagram the best home to share them?
A Little Background…
When we were running the app as our focus, we loved making lists for influencers in the city. We noticed their friends and followers loved having a guide on their favourite spots right in their pocket. Our lists ranged from food stylists, The Food Gays, to our mayor – Gregor Robertson! People kept asking for lists and the concept seemed to be really clicking. So we had a good hard think. We looked at the accounts of these influencers on Instagram, and many (such as The Food Gays) had an absolutely explosive following! People loved following their recommendations, and Instagram was a beautiful, convenient platform everyone already used.
Though we love our app, we can’t compete with Instagram (nor do we want to). Influencer marketing was blowing up for products, so we thought to ourselves – why not do the same thing, but for restaurants?
Many restaurateurs bemoan the impact that review sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor have on their business. In many cases, the reviews skew towards criticism. We speculate that people are compelled to write reviews often from a negative experience, than a positive one – most restaurants we go to are great, and most of us just enjoy eating out! So why bother write a review?
The culture built around certain platforms, through their origins or early users, have trickle-down effects on the way they are used. Instagram started out as a platform for people to share beautiful photos. Photographers loved having an opportunity to share photos internationally, and geo-tagging meant you could get discovered by checking in to specific places by total strangers. The nature of Facebook and Flickr was not as social, so the platform blew up from people wanting to share the beauty around them!
Today, most people use the platform to share the best experiences and moments from their lives – not the negative ones. Of course, being honest is important, and many use captions to share details – good or bad.
Instagrammers: Food Critics of the New Millenia?
(Sisley shooting at Green Mousetache)
We realized the account feeds are, for many people, the best place to find a place to try. We live on our phones, and rarely look to newspapers or ads to decide where to eat. We still ask our friends to recommend where to go – and now Instagram lets us expand our network and find foodies we’ve never met to give pointers. What’s great about Instagram is that you can see with your own eyes if a dish looks good, rather than reading text. It’s convenient and exciting to find new places. Brilliant!
With that in mind, we asked ourselves: what if we help restaurants conversate with influencers, through us? So we got to work – and the tastings program was born.
(Belgard Kitchen, via @leilalikes)
Imagine you own a restaurant, and a new item is launched. You’ve already been established, and all the local papers have covered you. But this dish is exquisite! Who should come try it, and who can pull people in to do the same? Influencers!
By organizing tastings, restaurateurs can create a VIP experience and focus on items they’re most excited to highlight. We encourage the staff to go all out, and when possible, have the owner or head chef come visit the group and share the inspiration behind their work. Similar to the run-down with food critics, but for a new generation. We play the role of the broker, advocating for both parties for the best possible experience.
40 Tastings and Counting
To date, we’ve run forty of these glorious feasts. We focus on making tastings intimate, instead of giant groups where food goes cold, photos look the same, portions are meager, and guests are given limited attention. We believe influencers should enjoy tastings the same way as a guest, attending with a guest or part of a small party. Enjoying good conversation and limiting photography to smaller groups means photos are different, and the trickle of attention to a restaurant is steady, not overwhelming. To us, this is advertising of the future. Influencers have the freedom to attend only the tastings they like, and posting photos only if they’re passionate about the experience. We make it our priority to help restaurants make tastings unforgettable.
For many influencers, working with us makes their lives easy. They tell us what they like, we do all the heavy lifting, and they just show up and do what they do best – enjoy food and get creative! Plus, you never know who’s going to be there… you may make some new friends too.
With that, here’s a roundup of highlights from the program.