5 Ways European Restaurateurs Can Use the Internet During the COVID-19 Crisis Get your restaurant up and running again in new ways.

By Giovanbattista Cimmino

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Has the pandemic COVID-19 forced you to close your restaurant? Did you lay off some or all of your employees? Through the many news outlets on the TV and the Internet, we all know that the COVID-19 pandemic is making us ill - in some cases fatally ill - overwhelming our healthcare systems, and drastically affecting our economies worldwide. One of the hardest hit sectors of the economy is the hospitality industry.

So what can you, as a restaurateur, and your cohorts do to rally your customers, your community, help your unemployed workers, and your suppliers? The Internet presents some creative and community-minded solutions.

1. Partner with your favourite reservation app.

If you haven't used the Open Table app to reserve a table for a quiet dinner or a raucous birthday celebration, now is the time to consider how it can help you in other ways. Open Table is now promoting delivery and gift cards, offering fee relief to impacted restaurants and working with local restaurant associations. So find out what's on its site.

For restaurants not using this service or located outside of service areas, check your local restaurant and delivery service websites for creative ideas. Many are adding new, safe pick-up and curb-side delivery. Open Table has also added a list of local restaurants in specific areas that do not use its services - just to help out during this time.

2. Use Instagram.

Instagram provides the option to add 10 photos of your restaurant's most popular and easily transported dishes as carousel posts. These can also illustrate safety measures implemented during this emergency time to protect both the staff and customers. Photos or cartoons of employees washing hands, using hand sanitizer frequently, wearing protective gloves, masks, and most importantly, not coming to work if not feeling well will reassure your customers.

You can also add the details of a curb-side, contact-free, and easy payment option (since cash is no longer an option) for patrons to get those burgers, fries, and yes, beer and soda out to local families. Or a favourite cab paired with a medium rare steak, baked potato with sour cream, Brussel sprouts with pancetta and the piece de resistance: a brandied bread pudding for dessert. You might want to click on another example of posts you can use as well.

3. Offer a gift voucher now.

Restaurateurs are offering prepaid "gift vouchers" on their websites that will be valid for two years and will give loyal and potential new customers priority in future bookings. These vouchers can be used not only for fans but as birthday gifts or ways to contact friends and relatives to support their local restaurateurs and delivery services. Offer a "Pay it forward option!"

4. Check out delivery-service options.

A delivery service like deliveroo uses the Internet to advertise its specials and options for safe delivery by offering features like selection of its new "contact-free delivery" at checkout. This message will go to the customer's riders so that they know to leave the food at the door with instructions about where to place food, and to send a message about when it will be delivered. Payment and tip will already have been taken care of.

And don't forget to mention that a generous tip during this uncertain time will be much appreciated by you for the benefit of your employees.

5. Sponsor an "event" for laid-off employees.

Advertise on social media and your website a take-out event at your restaurant (adhering to local restrictions, of course) for customers wishing to help. Be specific about what items will be offered and stagger times of pickup to ensure safe distancing for a limited number of people in a queue. Give all proceeds after expenses to those that you needed to layoff. Added bonus: gain respect, admiration and elevated community spirit of those participating.

These are just some of the ways restaurateurs and local delivery services are using the Internet to help alleviate the pressures of having to close up shop, having to figure out how to pay the rent, the taxes, the utility bills, and suppliers. And to still comply with all of the local and regional restrictions imposed at this dire time of crisis.

Please encourage your patrons to use their Internet skills to give themselves a much needed break from social isolation, to help their local and the global economy, and to enjoy life in these difficult times.

Giovanbattista Cimmino

CEO and Founder of SocialAsk

CEO and founder of the social media agency SocialAsk, Giovanbattista Cimmino prides himself on his company’s services, which include social media marketing and online reputation management.

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