Urbanspoon is a local bar and restaurant review platform, founded in 2006 and recently acquired by Indian startup Zomato for $60 million, which encourages foodie bloggers and restaurant customers to share their experiences. In Australia, the platform has always been considered somewhat limited, and that has allowed others like Foursquare, Yelp and TripAdvisor to dominate in the restaurant space. However, Zomato’s acquisition of Urbanspoon, allows it to tap into its leading restaurant search and discovery service and elevate the platform beyond its current limitations to be viable in a very competitive space.
The mobile app itself is largely known for its shake functionality which allows you to shake your mobile device or tap a button and then a location (e.g. CBD), a cuisine type (e.g. Spanish) and a price-range are presented to you in a rolling fashion that resembles a slot machine.
Why is Urbanspoon important as a citation?
For the restauranteur, where the platform really shines is in the depth of rich information you are allowed to provide with the listing. Being able to supply this rich information, sends much stronger awareness to the search engines, regarding what the business has to offer. Traditional directories usually neglect the facets of running a restaurant and want to tell you what you should be providing. However, Urbanspoon offers a range of additional functions, that elevate it above the normal directory offerings on the web. You can apply several hourly times to your opening hours (some places are open 24 hours and therefore require a different scheduling than what most directories offer). They also give you the option to add photos of dishes.
In addition to the business listings, Urbanspoon taps into their foodie blogger network, to provide the best recommendations for local eateries from real locals. In the “best restaurants” sections of each city they rank each restaurant based on the overall user review percentages. These can be filtered further by price, cuisine, suburb and features (which include wi-fi, happy hour, outdoor seating, live music, etc). What this provides is the opportunity for real foot traffic. People who are looking for a restaurant, whilst on-the-go, and who read the reviews and blog posts are more likely to make a decision then and there about whether to visit a business.
Urbanspoon appears to have partnered with Dimmi to provide restaurant reservations straight from the platform itself (this is integrated into both the desktop and mobile versions). It also uses hyperlocal technology to suggest nearby places to users.