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Urbanspoon adds top chef recommendations to bolster mobile restaurant search

Restaurant and food discovery application Urbanspoon has integrated Chefs Feed, a dining guide powered by the recommendations of the world's top chefs, to fortify mobile?s role in restaurant searches as an influential path-to-purchase catalyst.

Chefs Feed features reviews from well-known cooks such as Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert . They will be incorporated in Urbanspoon's recently released Popular Dishes feature, highlighting recommendations for the best reviewed restaurant meals to help Urbanspoon's 30 million monthly diners uncover the best food each city has to offer.

"Urbanspoon is focused on transforming the way consumers decide where and what to eat at restaurants," said Keela Robison, CEO of Urbanspoon.

"When we ask our customers, 80 percent say that they're interested in seeing dish recommendations when they're in a restaurant.?

?Partnering with Chefs Feed was a natural extension of our product, allowing us to recommend dishes that have earned the praise of the most discerning and trusted foodie audience of all ? the chefs themselves,? she said.

Crowd sourced cravings
Urbanspoon?s Popular Dish helps users decide what to eat by allowing diners to vote on meals and add their own favorites.

Dish recommendations are derived from hundreds of thousands of reviews to determine which menu choices diners loved the most. Now, customers can more easily figure out what to order when faced with a menu by seeing user-generated commendations, complemented by expert suggestions from Chefs Feed.

The explosion in consumer-generated media over the last couple of years means consumers' reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don't, has increased significantly.

Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising, according to the latest Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey. Ninety percent of consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.

Moreover, according to a new mobile path-to-purchase research from xAd/Telmetrics, for 49 percent of mobile searchers, mobile is the only media they use to find a restaurant while 50 percent say mobile devices are the most important media source for their restaurant research.

?Given the insanity that is now your typical to-do list, diners, especially urban diners, make more last minute decisions and choices on the fly; Expect mobile to remain the go-to solution,? said Cliff Courtney, chief marketing officer with Zimmerman Advertising.

?The Chef?s Feed will attract plenty of attention right out of the box, but will quickly see diminishing interest as ultimately peer reviews were, are and will always dominate the decision making landscape.?

Impacting dining decisions
Marketers can help capture and monetize the large number of mobile restaurant searchers that ultimately book a reservation or visit a restaurant with well-targeted mobile ad campaigns that are locally relevant and offer upfront contact info.

Restaurant owners must ensure they provide as much information as possible to mobile searchers to enable them to make a quick dining decision. Menu information, location, opening hours and a contact number are all important elements needed for consumers to make a purchase decision on-the-go.

Adding a click-to-call feature will also motivate diners to make reservations. Earlier this year, research from Google and Ipsos found that a significant number (70 percent) of mobile searchers used click-to-call directly from Google's search results, whether it appeared within paid or organic results.

Businesses that don't have a click-to-call button on search results risk sending searchers to the competition. Four in 10 (41 percent) of mobile searchers will check out other businesses in the event their chosen brand has no click-to-call.

?We lose our wallet and don?t report it for 24 hours, but lost phones are reported in 68 minutes,? Mr. Courtney said. ?Phones are not a thing or a device?they are the single link to everything, and the one accessory we can?t live without.?

?As the movie theater lights go down, in the elevator leaving the office, in the car at a red light, the phone is where we?ll look for everything, and dining suggestions will continue to be no different.?

?For the Chef?s Feed specifically, the value is clearly leveraging celebrity chefs, not just chefs who are famous in the culinary world because celebrity is still America?s number one distraction,? he said.

 Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York