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DonRocks
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2 hours ago, DaveO said:

I clearly haven't spoken to all or even close to a majority...but those that I have heard/spoken with get a lot of value from great reviews. 

Who have you spoken with? I'd like to hear some names, because this is the exact opposite of what I've heard and experienced.

Post readers are largely "one-and-done" diners - it had (and still has) a high subscription rate, and a lot of readers in wealthier parts of the area: Bethesda, Langley, etc. When they issue a good review, there's often a flurry of activity at 7:30 PM the next couple Friday and Saturday nights, leaving a 15% tip, but these are not loyal diners. I could name fifty chefs who have all told me the same thing, and I myself have probably been to nearly a hundred restaurants shortly after a Post review, so I know *exactly* the effect that Post reviews have on restaurants: briefly dramatic, but not at all lasting.

Not only that, but I've lived it myself - when the Post featured an article on this website, it set a single-day record for new registrants - *by far* - by a factor of about ten, and it was absolutely thrilling on that day. We went to a *lot* of trouble to verify their membership credentials, just as we always do, and it was a tremendous amount of work. And I don't think a single one of them is still here, and about 90% of them never posted a single time, about 5% posted in the "Please Introduce Yourselves" thread, and a select few posted several times. The members of *this* website are the ones that are the loyal, repeat diners that restaurants covet - there aren't nearly as many people, but the *quality* of those people is probably two orders of magnitude (that's "one-hundred-times" for those of you not into seismology) more valuable to restaurants than Post readers.

As the Post completely eliminates their print edition (and it will), and goes 100% online, things will change, but they haven't changed yet.

There are too many new restaurants in town that mistakenly think that Post readers are truly interested in them. They aren't; our readers are, and I know this for a fact. 

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10 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Who have you spoken with? I'd like to hear some names, because this is the exact opposite of what I've heard and experienced.

Through the bar schools we get a certain level of insight.  Aggregate in the last few years we've dealt with well over 1,000 employers.  The depth of our relationships range from thin to extensive.  Amazingly and more relevant and frequently these last few years we get a certain and increasing level of employers who can be found on these pages (and lots who wouldn't be mentioned here).  We have connections with owners, managers, GM's, and obviously bartenders.  Surprisingly over the last 15 years, or as long as I've payed attention (possibly longer) we have helped staff or been asked to spread the word to candidates for bar manager and bartenders for high end establishments (we have an enormous data base of grads).  (I find that surprising but its been going on for 15 years, and it must have been occurring beforehand, but I wasn't paying attention.

Virtually all the time I refrain from mentioning names.  Its not helpful to anyone and it can engage us in conflicts that are simply not helpful to those concerned.  Over the last couple of years through those contacts and as it relates to places that might be referenced here I have heard of the positive bounce from strong reviews.  I know specifically some were related to Post reviews.  Admittedly there could be additional times where I've heard of the positive impact and it might have related to the Post and other sources...or sources other than the Post and I could be lumping them in with the Post.  Could be.  If so those are my mistakes. But I continue to hear that.

Nobody knows how busy anyone else's website is or how much readership print gets (beyond its published subscription rate).  Secret information most of the time.  Here is a little sense of size though, not that it might tell much.  A couple of years ago Arlnow used to publish how many views their articles got.  They stopped publishing that info.  Very unusual as NOBODY does that across the web.  In 2014 their most popular article (abt the Ebola scare at the Pentagon) got over 130,000 views and generated almost 400 comments.  The 2nd most read story that year generated 100,000 views and about 200 comments.  (Views data:  we don't know; it could include bots (not real humans) or it might not--we don't know.).   The Sietsema slam of Founding Farmers this past summer generated 700 comments in 6 days.  The Post has a lot of readership still to this day.  Other sites also have a lot of visibility.  I have no idea as to the volumes nor do I know the readership here.  In fact I believe I've read here as to the impact of major media reviews of restaurants in other cities.  It appears to still be strong.

Frankly I cannot see how restaurateurs can know specifically how their customers find them.  In fact I've asked that of some I know.  They have a very difficult time narrowing it down if not having any notion whatsoever.   But regardless what they know or don't know....I've heard of the positive bounce from strong reviews in the Post. 

I cannot emphasize how difficult it is for these operators to know where and how their diners are finding them, unless they "intrude" on groups of diners and pepper them with marketing questions which they happily don't do.  Consider the information from the ThrilList article that was referenced in this forum here.  AQ restaurant at its peak was doing 240 dinners an evening.  They are currently open 5 days/week.  That is over 60,000 diners in a year in their peak.  It dropped to 100/diners/covers in a night--about 25,000/diners in a year.  If they had a magic wand they would have liked to find those "missing" 35,000 diners and how to get them back in the restaurant.  Very hard to determine.

So maybe I'd take the comments I hear with a grain of salt..but it is what I've heard from sources I can't/won't divulge.

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