03/14/2016 11:32 EDT | Updated 03/15/2017 05:12 EDT

Restaurants Can Create A Hashtag-Worthy Reputation

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Group Of Young Friends In Restaurant Having Lunch

If there is one thing millennials crave more than anything else, it's a great meal at a hip restaurant. This is one generation that eats out more often than any other. Fifty-three per cent of millennials go out to eat once a week, compared with 43% for the general population. For them it's not about the convenience, but rather the experience. When millennials dine out, they know exactly what they're looking for.

More than most, they also care about having food that is healthy, fresh, and locally-grown (although this is a growing trend at all ages in Canada). And despite what many might think of this generation, they aren't into traditional fast food, but rather healthy and fast. A term restaurants today are coining as "fast casual"- a booming market in the restaurant industry. It refers to restaurants that serve casual-dining quality food at fast food speeds. It is basically the middle ground between fast food and casual dining, appropriately priced.

To attract the millennial generation and keep them coming back for more is making the restaurant community more creative in their approach. If you don't offer millennials a creative menu, chances are they won't come back. As this article points out, it's all about the vocabulary used in the menu itself. Thinking outside the box to describe a particular dish will attract the creative millennial mind. The article goes on to point out five other ways fast casual restaurants can attract the millennial generation, which includes using high-quality ingredients, customization, social media hashtags, camera-ready food, and the ability for others to tell a story about the restaurant they frequent. All of these combined make the ultimate recipe for a successful fast casual restaurant.

Knowing how to attract millennials is understanding the characteristics of millennials themselves. This article sums up millennials simply and effectively. They are a generation that tend to be: frugal, but willing to pay for quality, socially and environmentally conscious, tech-savvy, and open to new ideas and experiences. Transparency is also important for this age group when it comes to restaurants. This generation wants to know exactly what goes into their food and what the final product on the plate in front of them contains. Providing all the facts ensures happy customers.

Millennials value the opinions of others when making decisions, especially friends (shocker!)

Positive referrals and raving reviews for restaurants instantly proves that it's a great eating establishment and worth trying out, which can also mean spending less on marketing. There's a number of services out there to help small business aggregate their reviews form different platforms. So a small independent bistro doesn't need an IT department per se. Having a strong online presence is vital. Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram, allow establishments to put their brand and what it has to offer out there on a platform most visited by its patrons. But more importantly, these customers want to engage & share. If you take a look at Instagram, photos of food and restaurant hashtags are rampant. If a restaurant isn't featured on social media in some way or another, then they are doing something wrong and missing an opportunity.

Online Marketing means much more for the restaurant industry beyond social media

Tech-savvy millennials like the idea of combining their dining experiences with the latest gadgets. There are various tech trends that are changing the restaurant industry. These include touch screen technology such as tablets that allow patrons to place their order with a simple touch and swipe. Mobile pay is also becoming increasingly popular, allowing people to pay for their purchases, including dinners out, by simply pulling out their smart phone rather than credit or debit cards. Smart phones have also seen the rise in mobile ordering for those who want to order in.

No matter how you slice, dice, or cut it, millennials are without doubt, changing the restaurant industry. These changes are positive ones, as they are allowing restaurants to expand outside their previous comfort zones and change with the times, providing a dining experience worth talking and hashtaging about. In the end, it can be the difference between a great reputation or none at all.

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