When Restaurants Google You, Is It Creepy – or Cool?

Here’s something you may or may not know: Many of the best restaurants in the world research their guests online prior to a shift, with a view to learning something that will help them give those diners truly personalized, exceptional hospitality.

We were curious how people might feel about that, so we decided to ask U.S. OpenTable members, “When restaurants Google you, is it creepy or cool?” More than 6,000 chimed in with their responses, which led to the following interesting findings:

“Creepy” trumps “cool”

While many people aren’t bothered by the notion of being Googled by restaurant staff, the number of people who consider it “creepy or intrusive” outweighs the number of people who think it’s a good thing.

CreepyCool-BarGraph

Many of the 5 percent who answered “other” seemed baffled by the notion. “Not sure about that. What will they really get?” wondered one respondent. “Too much of a ‘Big Brother’ feeling,” commented another. “These must be expensive restaurants!” reasoned a third.

Diners in some cities are more creeped out than others

When we looked at the data by metro area, we saw a fair amount of variation. The most relaxed about this practice were our diners in Dallas, which was, in fact, the only city where those who think it’s a good thing (34 percent) outweighed those who consider it creepy (23 percent).

Meanwhile, respondents from cities farther north (think Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis) were a lot more suspicious of being researched by a restaurant at which they were about to dine.

CreepyCoolMetro-BarGraph

How do you feel about restaurants researching you prior to a meal in the interest of providing excellent service? Tell us here or over on FacebookG+, or Twitter.

Note: This research is part of a broader survey conducted on technology and dining. Restaurant owners and operators, current and aspiring, are invited to download our findings here. And, be sure to visit http://openforbusiness.opentable.com/ for everything you need to know about opening and running a successful restaurant.

Leela Srinivasan is VP Restaurant Marketing at OpenTable and a certified survey nerd. She hails from Edinburgh and would like to stress that the food in Scotland is way better than you might think.

 

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