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Break up with your 3rd party reservation sites

Why you should invest in having your own reservation site

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Hena Shah

Valentine’s day is a day to celebrate the love and joy towards your significant other, a day for you to show appreciation for them being kind and caring, but what if your significant other is not your true love?

As this big day is just around the corner, I’d like to take this opportunity to help you assess whether you should stay in the relationship or wave them goodbye. I’m not referring to human companionship here, but instead your love-hate relationship with third-party reservation sites.

If you’re not familiar with third-party reservation sites, these are websites that act as a search engine exclusively for restaurant discoveries. Restaurants register with these websites to secure a place in the search results, and in return reservation sites charge a fee when customers book through the site.

You might wonder, why would I break up with any of them when they claim to be looking out for me? According to recent research, search engine discoveries are no longer the primary way people look for restaurants. In fact, less than 50% look for restaurants through Google and a mere 13% search for restaurants using dining apps such as Yelp and OpenTable. This means that you might be investing in a relationship that is actually going nowhere. Saying goodbye is no easy task, so let me help you decide whether now is the time to walk away. If any of the below applies to you, you might want to re-evaluate your relationship with your beloved third-party reservation sites.

You have doubts and keep wondering ‘what if…'

It’s only human to seek the best for yourself, especially when there are so many other options out there. You find yourself wondering, ‘Would I have paid less if I switch to a different service?’, ‘What if I stop using them, would I lose my regular customers?’, ‘What if there’s something even better out there that I’m not aware of?’. These are all signs when you know you need to start thinking about the other options.

You don’t feel good in your relationship

You’re eager, motivated and continuously striving to be better. You’re always seeking ways to be the best amongst your local businesses. On the other hand, your dear partner is still, well, the same. You’re disappointed because your partner is supposed to help you with advertising and gaining customers, but all they did was dump your restaurant info into the search results together with the other 1000 restaurants in the same area. As a result, your restaurant still ranks below your rival restaurant across the street. And again you wonder ‘am I better off without them?’. A healthy relationship only works if the feelings are mutual, but right now it appears that you’re the only one who cares.

It doesn’t feel right anymore

It felt right when you first signed the contract. You were getting countless new customers, and you thought it was a wise decision to partner with third-party reservation sites. As time passed, you successfully converted new customers into returning loyal customers. Just when you think things couldn’t be better, you receive the invoice from your partner and your jaws dropped. The fees have gone up despite most people booking through the site are returning customers. You feel deceived and betrayed, as you believed that you’d be more profitable once you had captured loyal fans for your restaurant, but the invoice you received suggested differently.

It’s a dead end, and it’s not going to get better

You’ve been convincing yourself that things would turn around, but seeing more and more customers inquiring through other channels and fewer people reserving through booking sites you know the jig is up. It’s time to stop pouring all your resources into reservation sites and to start investing in alternative avenues, like social media. With over 60% of customers searching restaurants through various social media, it is without a doubt a channel that is worst investing.

About the Author

“You need to keep tasting things if you haven't found your thing” - Gary Vaynerchuk

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