Danny, Union Square Hospitality Group has been using a guest-engagement software tool called Venga. How are you finding it helps your businesses?
DM: It’s fishing all the different lakes to collect as much relevant information as exists [on social channels] so that on a day-to-day basis we gauge what people are saying about our restaurants. It allows us to eavesdrop on conversations that are happening in public and crystallizes the feedback. It can give us actionable opportunities, or we might see a pattern. It could be that something needs to be addressed. In the old days, I wouldn’t learn about that until two weeks later when I got a snail-mail complaint, by which time this person has probably told 30 or 40 people how awful their experience was. [Now] we can address it in real time.
And by the way, we also get really good tweets, and that gives us a chance to play offense and go overboard. About a year ago or so, there was a couple doing what some people lovingly call a “Danny dine-around.” I don’t really call it that. But they had read Setting the Table and wanted to eat [one meal at every one of my restaurants]. They had planned this out just perfectly. They would not have time to go to Shake Shack, but they knew they could get it at JFK [airport] for their flight home. And they tweeted, “We’re crushed! No one told us that we were going to be in [the wrong terminal].” Well, the guys at Shake Shack picked that up in real time, tweeted back to them, and brought them their meal two terminals away. That ended up becoming a whole legend that they tweeted about forever.
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