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Focus on the ROI, keep the customer engaged: NRAI seminar


A NRAI seminar on ‘Local Store Marketing’ and ‘Managing Consumer Feedback & Engagement on Social Media’: September 26, 2014 at PHD House, Delhi.

This engaging seminar was attended by 80 restaurateurs from across New Delhi and was very well received. NRAI’s seminars are always committed to serve as platforms to provide knowledge on key areas, engage, exchange ideas and network with the industry leaders.

Local Store Marketing

The LSM session, moderated by Dev Amritesh, was conceptualised exclusively help restaurateurs make their business locally relevant. Moderating an LSM session for the first time ever, Amritesh said that other industries might not even understand having a panel discussion on LSM but for the food service industry, LSM is the most important tool. In fact, marketing for many restaurants is only Local Store Marketing.

Beginning with the discussion, Sanjeev Razdan, having decades of International experience in the Food Service Industry said that serving the guest at your restaurant is a very intimate experience and it’s necessary to customise your offerings, engage with them in a manner which seems personal and relevant to them.

Responding to one of the questions thrown by Amritesh on driving sales through LSM, KS Narayanan, having 27 years of rich experience with the leading brands said that he had a different view. “Food is only one part if the complete experience you give to a customer, Actually, it’s a combination of Food, service and retail business that works to make a brand”, he said. He also mentioned, “LSM is way beyond just sending out flyers in a 5 km radius. You need to know what is relevant to the consuming public in and around your store and how you are communicating it to them.”

Restaurant Marketing Seminar - Panel 1 (2)

From the perspective of Advertising and Marketing, Sanjeev Bhargava emphasised on local activations. “Ticking out the right parameters from the brand matrix to get the maximum local leverage and magnifying them to use it qualitatively is LSM. A local store should understand its brand campaign and leverage the right aspect for local relevance and to drive local preferences.”

To understand LSM for owner run restaurants, Amritesh asked Chef and Owner of Tres Restaurant, Julia Carmen Desa for sharing some of her tips with the standalone restaurants. “Personalised service and going out of way for the customer is LSM because word of mouth works very well in the industry.” Julia credited the success of her restaurant – Tres to the fact that in past two years she has done no other marketing for her restaurant except personalised local store marketing in the form of creating signature dishes for the customers, continuously training to staff to excel, local tie-ups with school, shops, working with the communities and most importantly listening to the customers and putting that feedback into action. Julia also mentioned, “We know our customers. When you say that, it does not mean only their name. You know their spouse, kids, that extra mile where you establish a direct contact with customers, have their personal information like birthdays and anniversaries, etc., which add a lot to LSM.”

In accordance with Chef Julia’s comments, Narayanan added that they now push their Chefs to go and talk to the customers. “The moment a Chef comes, half the problem gets solved. It is a very positive way of marketing the restaurant.” Bhargava suggested that today it is necessary to have data on customer’s last order, his preferences etc. which don’t cost money but effort.

Razdan detailed that the through LSM, “We try and solve three things. One, getting the customer to the store; second, to increase the frequency of his visits; and third, to make him order more beyond what he prefers”. “If you are in a shopping mall, get creative with uniform, car parking deals or catchy names like express lunch, half price etc.. For high street casual dining restaurant, identify where your target consumers are sitting, then put a kiosk outside that colony, send flyers, put posters across those offices etc.,” he added.

Further, he shared tips on the increasing home delivery food business through LSM. Mentioning that home delivery business is very impulsive, he explained that to successfully run and increase the home delivery business, one should grab the attention of the customer through flyers giving best incentives and deals.


  • Dev Amritesh, CEO, Dunkin Donuts
  • KS Narayanan, CEO, Pan India Food Solutions
  • Sanjiv Razdan, GM, Pizza Hut & Yum India
  • Sanjeev Bhargava, Managing Partner, JWT
  • Chef Julia Carmen Desa, Owner, Tres Restaurant

Managing Consumer Feedback & Engagement on Social Media

This was followed by the second session on ‘Managing Consumer Feedback & Engagement on Social Media’ where panellists gave an overall view of social media: what it is, how it works, the latest trends and developments, and what you need to be aware of to fully utilize its powers for your own organization. This session helped to guide the restaurateurs in defining their social media goals, and working out a strategy that would work best for their set up.

The session – moderated by Samir Kuckreja, ExPresident and now a trustee, NRAI and Founder & CEO, Tasanaya Hospitality had some of the finest brains of the social media universe on the panel. Kuckreja set the pace by pointing some interesting and important statistics related to the social media:

  • There are about 244 million people who are online customers
  • India is the 2nd largest internet user country
  • 75% of the internet users are below 35 years of age
  • 86% of people spend time on social media

Starting the session by answering Kuckreja’s question on how to manage feedback that comes in all the time, Rahul Singh, who bagged 4 awards within a year after launching The Beer Cafe said, “Being a restaurateur, we need to accept all kind of feedback and reply to it timely. It’s the part of the ecosystem. We can’t get applauds all the time. Our first and basic mantra is to answer it and not to react but proact”. He also added that social media is something you cannot ignore.

Shuchir Suri, whose three passions include Food, People and Technology, exactly in that order, said that brands could actually leverage on negative reviews by handling them well and creating goodwill amongst the readers. “If a restaurant gets negative feedback again and again, there is something wrong with the product”, he emphasised. Adding on to the techniques to adapt for online posts, he said, “When you share a post and a photograph on Friday, there are 60% chances that you get more likes than on a Monday. For instagram, if you have a post with more than 250 words, 180% chances that you’ll get more likes.” He also suggested that user generated content is better than restaurateurs creating them and one must leverage on that as it is free of cost.

Shobita Kadan, handling marketing activities for brands like Smoke House Deli, Mocha and :Social: said, “At times people share negative reviews to get free meals and it becomes very difficult to manage it. However, you have to address it. At Impresario, we have a policy where within 24 hrs, we respond to every single comment that is made online. We take negative reviews to understand what went wrong with the customer’s experience.”

On responding to who should reply to the online feedback, Shobita said that this business of being personal with the customer should be taken online as well. “My team who sits at the outlet knows more and we authorise them to reply to that feedback. The relationship here becomes direct and we get a lot of useful information as well.”

Shobita also emphasised on finding out a tool to validate and monitor the kind of people writing reviews online about the brand for making it constructive.

Restaurant Marketing Seminar - Panel 2 (2)

Saurabh Sengupta, Country Head, Zomato India who himself has built the sales team in various cities and made Zomato one of the leading influencers in the industry said, “We work on the technical angle to handle consumer feedback to track down fake and the genuine profiles. We took inspiration from twitter which brought this beautiful concept of followers. If you do not write interesting stuff, you will not have followers. And that’s what you can’t buy. You can’t buy social reputation.” He also added that to control spam, “If you notice someone, please let us know to keep the system clean. We are trying to give more importance to reviews that happen on the sight. We are trying to capture the experience at the point when the action is happening.”

Commenting on tracking ROI through Social media, Saurabh said we need to focus on the social ROI here. “We need to keep a track of whether the consumer has tagged us somewhere, clicked a picture through instagram for building him as promoters out there”.

Sharing a tip with the restaurateurs for handling their social media presence, Kuckreja said, “You need someone who actually understands and lives social media.”

Being a blogger herself and on the questioning the credibility of reviewers, Suchita clarified saying, “Restaurants in Delhi are a booming business and there are new varieties coming up every day, with Japenese, Mexican, Vietnamese joining an already crowded landscape of cuisines. Our palette is still very desi at heart and people will take time to understand what different cuisines are all about. We pick up people whom we know are not from the food writing industry and enjoy food, but not for the sake of earning, which helps in keeping things credible”. “We never give out negative reviews”, she added.

Replying on the ROI from Social Media, she said, “Social Media cannot give you a tangible return. It is for creating a personal connect. You might have thousands of likes on your page but it does not mean you will have thousands entering your restaurant on a day to day basis. Social media is a way to communicate and when you will sound like a sales person on it, no one will like it. Give it to the audience in an interesting way.”

Addressing his thoughts on what should be done in a crisis situation, Miten, said, “You always have to plan ahead about the consequences that you can or might face in future. You always have to be ready with a crisis plan. The tools which can be used for the same could be a PR team handling the crisis management.” He emphasised on the importance of addressing issues raised by a customer on the social media as soon as possible.

Miten also mentioned that, dineout has ‘verified dinners review’ which allows one to review after he has made a booking and dinned, in an attempt to make it authentic for dinners and restaurants.


  • Samir Kuckreja, President NRAI & Founder & CEO, Tasanaya Hospitality
  • Sourabh Sengupta, Country Head, Zomato India
  • Rahul Singh, Founder & CEO, The Beer Café
  • Miten Sampat, Business Head, TimesCity
  • Shobita Kadan, VP – Marketing, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality
  • Shuchir Suri, Founder, Food Talk India
  • Suchita Salwan, Founder & Director Little Black Book Delhi.

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