With the increase of tourism in Australia, and a number of them attracted to our abundant cuisine, it has never been more important to perfect the art of funneling international diners into your venue.

When it comes to the types of international diners, a whopping 1.34 million tourists came from our friendly neighbours New Zealand in 2016. This was closely followed by Chinese tourists at 1.21 million. The Chinese market seems to be the one to watch. While New Zealand’s interest in AU has grown 25.9% in the last 10 years, Chinese tourists have increased by 284.1%. With good food and wine the third most important influencing factor for Chinese travellers (shortly behind safety and nature), the food industry should be jumping on this bandwagon that well and truly has already taken off. The Chinese greeting for “hello” roughly translates to “have you eaten yet?” – now isn’t that fantastic for the hospitality industry!

There are obviously a million ways to increasing the number of Chinese travellers in your venue, however we believe there is no need to go tipping tables and completely rewriting how you work your business. These methods are a great way to not only increase the number of international tourists in your venue, but also optimise your processes in house for your regular diners too.

1. Online bookings

Especially when there is a language barrier, it is very important to be able to book your restaurant with minimal to zero phone contact. When choosing a restaurant the main website Chinese tourists will use is www.dianping.com. It is a predominantly Chinese focused website, however also has a large number of Australian cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane to name a few. Many of the reviews will direct diners to book online on the venue’s website, and it is important to have those bookings on your website. Use BooKBooK for a low cost widget that is user friendly – and translatable. Get your venue up on as many sites as possible, but do not house your booking widget on these directories. Be very aware of restrictions when it comes to where you can house your booking widget. Read this article for direction when choosing an online booking system.

It’s also important to remember that if a diner is looking specifically at a restaurant that books out in advance before they arrive in the country, this will pose issues for them. More specifically, the cost of an international phone call to book a restaurant, and time differences. Housing online bookings is a great way to bypass these issues.

2. Customer data, but why?

H&L CEO Burt Admiraal is a firm believer in a phenomenon he calls “the irregular regulars”. These are diners who may not live in the same location as the venue, however whenever they visit, they will dine with you. In terms of what diner information you need, knowing this is imperative to understanding your customers, and who needs special attention. Ensure that your booking system will recognise repeat diners to reward these customers.

3. The hospitality spirit

Chinese people place a high level of importance on good service. Their culture emphasises the hospitality spirit and generosity, and special attention is often paid to the level of service. We highly recommend using a table management function that allows every staff member to be in control of the venue and their customers. Good quality software will be seamless in its understanding of what a server needs to know, and we recommend BooKBooK. If your booking system has a table management function, this will be fantastic if it links through to your POS. Read more here on integration.

It’s important to have quality service regardless of your diner, so make sure that your waiters and waitresses have table turnover front of mind. As a modern country we are expected to have a higher level of service than other countries, so it’s important to live up to that expectation.

And if you’re really serious about the Chinese market…

Ensure you have local and fresh food available, it’s important to Chinese tourists to experience the culture of the country they are visiting.

Incorporate Chinese food or influences into your dishes. Many tourists will long for their home food and actively choose those types of restaurants. However they are also keen to incorporate their dining experience into their travel experience.

Find out if they are travelling, this is important. Many tourists lack knowledge about Australian cuisine and may not understand what the “local” dish is. Educate tourists on what they are eating, where it is from, and how it relates to our culture.