Sunday, August 23, 2015

The RJG and Zomato - Round 2

Well, folks, there's been major changes since I wrote my scathing review of the restaurant website two months ago. What I would have never imagined to happen in my lifetime, I actually received an emailed letter from Zomato and an invitation to speak with them. It did not occur because of my review above, nor because of any supposed status I may have had (or not had) at Urbanspoon. It happened because while I was testing their "spoonback" feed that Urbanspoon used so successfully, it appeared to not work (like everything else it seemed to me by that time). I figured maybe I lost my status as a blogger, so I reapplied (it turns out I was still listed as a blogger). That's when a note showed up in my e-mail box from a one Alyssa, who is what they call a "Community Director", and she has DFW as her domain. She offered to speak with me by phone, or even meet for coffee. So I setup a conference call last week, and we chatted for about an hour about Zomato. She was incredibly enthusiastic which was quite refreshing honestly. I felt like I was speaking to one of my nieces, and they are all about the same age (early 20's I suspect).

I learned a lot about Zomato and their philosophy. And while nobody questions the switchover was somewhat of a disaster, it seems the website has made great strides since then. The primary difference between Urbanspoon and Zomato is that US was "crowd sourced", meaning in effect, folks like you and I provided the data. Zomato, on the other hand, actually employs people to do just that - maintain the integrity of the data. They visit the restaurants, or call them directly. I applaud this approach, as long as the company sticks with it. I put an enormous amount of effort into Urbanspoon in the past, to try and keep their data clean, and so I was entirely frustrated that I no longer had access to do that. But the good news is, I now have a channel to Alyssa (and hopefully any other Community Director), and she will assist me in making these changes, I just sent over about 15 errors this weekend, so we'll see how effective the system works.

The fact I only had about 15 errors to send over demonstrated to me just how much they've accomplished in a short time. In June the site was a complete mess. You couldn't search it, and it just seemed completely broken. But now it works reasonably well, though I find I have to double load pages on occasion, which is frustrating, and a few other things are still in a state of disrepair. So if Zomato is really going to commit that many dollars to this project (it can't be cheap employing people all over the country), then I can at least try and help. It was always charity from me, and will continue to be so. My blog notes are now filtering through the site again, just as in the past. And that's why you'll have noticed I put back in the Zomato links on newer reviews.

I will continue on with Facebook as well. What I have noticed is that Facebook will yield me immediate results, and then it pretty much dies on the vine. This is why I liked Urbanspoon. Some of my posts have 1000's of views over the years, making it well worth the effort. With Facebook, you might get 40 or 50 out of the gate, and then it just ends right there.

OK, so we're back in with Zomato. Stay tuned. Perhaps there will be a Round 3.

In other news, I'm trying to get more disciplined around blogging on the RJG. I'm regimented in all areas of my life it seems, except this. It's too much "last minute" thinking about what and where to eat. So often times we end up going to the same places, which is good too - but perhaps not always good. And then I stop writing for the blog, and complacency settles in. The weekdays have been too volatile, because of my real job of course. And I've just given up trying to squeeze in a restaurant lunch here or there. I have a good routine for lunch at home during the week (pasta, pasta, pasta...) and it works well for my non-stop conference calls. So I think if I can commit to the weekends, or vacation days, for this blog, we might have some consistency. We'll see. Worth a try.

1 comment:

Peter Schott said...

Glad that they're trying to do something. I loved the UrbanSpoon app's feature of "find me stuff nearby" instead of trying to dig through the site. I appreciated the relatively free/unedited reviews - something that I just don't find anywhere else. With the site and app not being as friendly to use, I stopped using it as much to find things nearby or to even bother looking around. It just didn't work well at all.

If that starts turning around, I'll go back to it. Until I have seen some signs that it _is_ turning around, Zomato will be just another possible choice, and likely not my first one, for finding restaurants. I find that a bit sad as Urbanspoon was my top choice.