When I came across Eat Out, I was pretty dumbfounded. Being a vocal advocate for local digital content and given the conversations I have been having lately around local digital content creation and its monetization, I decided that I must do a feature on Eat Out – the dining revolution. But better than just one feature, I decided to make this a weekly series and there is no better candidate to start these series with than Eat Out. I have entitled these series as – Kenyans doing it right online – and they will feature the best in local digital content creation.
I came across Eat Out when I was doing research on a potential client and I loved the site on first sight. The .co.ke url made my day. I immediately became a fan on Facebook. I proceeded to post a comment on their Eat Out Fanpage which currently boasts over 1580 members and I was pleasantly surprised when one Mikul Shah, the MD of Eat Out contacted me a day later with regard to the comment I had left.
Eat Out is the ideal depiction of what Kenyans can do in terms of creating local digital content. Eat Out provides a comprehensive guide for people seeking eating out joints in the country. It is an incredible resource for anybody who wishes to have a great dining experience but has no idea where to start looking for the ideal restaurant. Eat Out is setup such that it enables you to search for a restaurant that meets your tastes, style, pockets, as well as cuisine preference based on its impeccable category index. The great people behind Eat Out have pulled this off by organizing the various restaurants broadly based on Location, Cuisine, and Best For. Specifically, the categories cater for almost every keyword that you will probably type in search engines when searching for a dining joint in Kenya.
With regard to Locality, Eat Out which was launched in October 2009 currently covers Nairobi and Mombasa with whole of Kenya being the target. As for the region and continent… let us wait and see.
If you are like me, then you probably have a tough time deciding on the ideal place to Eat Out. This is especially so if you are new in the city or tired of the usual restaurants and want more. You have probably asked friends for recommendations and they pointed you to a couple of places they have been or have heard about. Maybe you have even Googled a place up and given the poor search engine optimization or total lack of an online presence for most restaurants, you barely got anywhere with the leads. Well, no more. Eat Out is the Kenyan Yelp but just for restaurants, it the Local TripAdvisor for your restaurant destinations, it will becoming to Kenyans what Opentable is to Americans; your ideal online eating out guideline.
Update: I had earlier mentioned that Eat Out currently offers Eat Out points but Mikul has just informed me that those will be launched next year with discount cards.
So for people who are in Nairobi or Mombasa and looking for a place to eat out, Eat Out is what will point you in the right direction without too much hassle. Better still, you can make your booking at the restaurant of your choice from Eat Out and what better than an embedded Google Map to guide you to the your ideal location. If you are not sure about whether you can afford it, well, the menus and average prices are quoted for you. And if price is not the issue and you need reassurance about the service, you can read the reviews first before making your reservations. Reviews represent user generated content that offer real unadulterated insight on experiences that one had at a given restaurant. You can make it better by writing reviews of the places that you have been to and Eat Out currently offers Eat Out points for writing reviews which can be redeemed at any of their restaurants. Online reviews currently rule the more technology advanced countries because virtually everybody looks up these reviews before making any purchase or reservation.
The concept behind Eat Out is not new. It is a common place occurrence in the more technology advanced societies. Interestingly enough, this is precisely how Eat Out came to be because the Directors – who all grew up in Mombasa but pursued their respective University Education Abroad before coming back home – were used to getting all their info at the click of a button. That was not the case when they got back home. According to Mikul Shah, the Managing Director:
Over a dinner party at a very popular Nairobi restaurant, we came across a strange situation. We found that our friends who had been living in Nairobi for 30 years had never heard let a lone been to this particular restaurant. Not that they didn’t enjoy eating out or spend money doing so. Having spent close to a decade abroad, we felt that this was very strange, as in the UK & US, all the information anybody would want was simply a click away.
So they decided to make the info on restaurants just a click away. In the US for instance, websites like Yelp and Opentable – are the go places for looking up businesses and restaurants respectively before making any purchase decisions. Now Eat Out is the Kenyan go to place and I am proud of this fact.
Kenya is increasingly becoming digital. The escalating internet penetration levels coupled with the reducing costs of internet access and prevalence of mobile internet are changing the way Kenyans access information. And whereas having an online presence is indispensable for any business, the credibility of offsite reviews are what will sell you and that is where Eat Out comes in. Part of my work as a social media strategist involves advising clients to get themselves on review websites because of the validity they grant a product or brand. However, this has been difficult to do for Kenyan businesses that serve a largely Kenyan market because locally, there are virtually no review sites. Eat Out is a better resource because of the reviews option since bookings to your premises will increasingly not be made without the go-ahead that positive reviews offer. I have just added Eat Out as one of those places I must advice my clients in this industry to register.
For the listed restaurants, any reviews posted about them are forwarded to them so that they can read what is being said about them and respond accordingly.
It is precisely because Kenya is becoming connected and the near future will see more and more of us visiting Eat Out and similar sites for information and reviews. Mikul was kind enough to send me the statistics for the Eat Out Website and the numbers prove that theirs is a growing niche that it is catering very adequately for a growing Kenyan demographic section. I was talking to the owner of a new yet incredibly lush Bar and Lounge in Nairobi who mentioned that a considerable percentage of their bookings come via Eat Out. Given the significant almost exponential increase in traffic to the Eat Out website in the 6 months of its existence, I believe It will only get bigger and better. Soon enough, every hotel and restaurant will need to be on Eat Out because more and more Kenyans will be looking to Eat Out for guidance, direction, and convenience of booking online – not showing up at the door only to be told a place is full-house.
For those wishing to have their restaurants featured on Eat Out, visit their website contact area and drop them an email with regard to your wishes. They will contact you back and send you the details commencing the registration process including paying a subscription fee.
What are your thoughts?