And weirdly, most diners don’t seem to mind.
Whenever you book a table at an upscale restaurant, expect to be Googled before you show up for dinner. If that preemptive sleuthing creeps you out, you're in the minority, according to a new report published by OpenTable.
The online reservation company surveyed 6,000 people across 10 metro areas on the role of technology in the dining experience. Apparently, most diners don’t mind restaurants doing their research ahead of time.
About two-thirds of respondents were fine with the practice. On the other hand, 18 percent wanted restaurants to know “absolutely nothing” about them before they arrived.
OpenTable also broke down the data by city. It seems diners in Dallas and San Diego were slightly more amenable to Googling than diners in other metro areas.
Restaurants have been doing this kind of online reconnaissance for years—but rest assured, it’s primarily to improve the service experience. Staff want to be prepared for high rollers and VIPs like chefs, celebrities, and politicians, and sometimes they just want to go the extra mile. Grub Street reported that maîtres d'hotel at New York’s Eleven Madison Park might draw on their research to wish you a happy birthday or pair you with a server from the same state. One restaurant manager told ABC News that he uses LinkedIn to prevent potential conflicts by, for instance, seating high-profile rivals “as far away as possible.” Lower-profile guests needn’t worry about a restaurant staffer trolling for salacious personal nuggets or unearthing embarrassing LiveJournal entries.
But we wonder how diners might feel about a “reverse Yelp” like Australia’s version of OpenTable, Dimmi ResDiary, which allows restaurants to log customers’ “performance,” including how well they tip and how long they linger at a table. Like the rider review feature on Uber or Lyft, it’s a way for restaurants to turn the tables on stingy or disrespectful guests. Repeat offenders might want a little less transparency.