When restaurants google customers

Stevan Premutico, chief executive officer of dimmi南京夜网.au Photo: Louise Kennerley Last laugh: Restaurateur Darran Smith (pictured here, second from left, in 2009) always researchers his guests. Photo: Domino Postiglione
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Are you a cheap tipper? A fussy eater who sends meals back to the kitchen? Whether you’re a dining dream or nightmare (and let’s be honest, the worst customers are probably the last to admit it), the internet age means for better or worse, now more than ever, your reputation precedes you.

When a diner walks into a restaurant these days, there’s a good chance the maitre d’ knows more about them than they realise, says Stevan Premutico, chief executive officer of online reservation website dimmi南京夜网.au.

“What they look like, their job, their title, where they live, their social connections, any special celebrations and whether they are an avid foodie are all key things,” he says.

“It’s all part of getting to know your customers.”

Keeping notes on customers is hardly new. But as social media continues to knock gaping holes in the divide between personal and public, restaurants that bother to do their research are reaping bigger rewards for their efforts.

Shared online reservation systems like Dimmi’s ResDiary, as well as social media sites liked LinkedIn and good old Google searches, can be a double-edged sword. Systems can be used to track dining ‘performance’ – how much you ordered, whether you tipped well, how pleasantly you treated staff or whether you continued to camp out at the table long after you’d finished dessert.

The five most common pieces of information restaurants share, Premutico says, are customers’ food and wine preferences, notable habits (e.g. likes to have a drink at the bar before being seated), seating preferences (corner booth, window seat), allergies and – last but certainly not least – if the customer is a good or bad tipper.

But the Dimmi system goes even further, allowing restaurants to codify diners with attributes such as wine connoisseur, adventure eaters, quick eaters (good for table turnover) or friends of the chef or owner.

On the flip side are codes for loud talkers, frequent no-shows or PIAs – pain-in-the-ass customers with excessive demands.

Other tidbits restaurants note include postcode (you can infer a lot from four digits, Premutico says), whether someone is an ‘upgrader’ (diners who go for the works, like coffee and cognac) and, controversially, whether or not the diner is good-looking (some places may seat a diner differently based on their looks, Premutico says).

Restaurateur Darran Smith, who has worked in the industry for 20 years at venues including Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, the Hilton’s Glass restaurant and Hemmesphere at the Establishment hotel, says he always researches his guests.

“Whether it’s politicians or movie stars, lawyers or whatnot, I do my research,” Smith says.

“I remember Owen Wilson was coming in and finding out he really likes tequila so I made sure the bar was stocked up with tequila … It paid off.”

It’s the little things, which a restaurant can do without the customer even realising, that can make a good experience great or an excellent venue exceptional, he says.

Improved customer service and that personalised dining experience is the ultimate goal, restaurants say. And of course there are mutual benefits. (Smith recalls another experience when he discovered via Google that an Icebergs diner had sold his company the day before. “He came in and spent $5000,” he says.)

But Smith also admits that restaurants sometimes use online reservation systems to prepare themselves for the “one per cent” of customers who “just hate life”.

“With Dimmi, you do some research and you know they only like sitting at a particular table or they only like their salad with the dressing on the side,” he says.

“You know that if you go outside a certain circle they … will just be the worst customer in the world.”

Premutico says the practice is entirely justified. It’s a competitive industry and every bit of intelligence counts – whether you’re in front of the cash register or behind it.

“A customer that is rude, obnoxious, complains and doesn’t tip should be noted. A diner who appreciates the food concept, respects the staff, dines often and leaves tips should be given the better tables and taken care of more.”

As for the impact on customers, perhaps diners will learn to mind their Ps and Qs so as not to be labelled PIAs. After all, restaurants have been riding the rollercoaster of social media and user-generated ratings for years, Premutico says.

“This passes some of the power back to restaurants,” he says.

“Diners will behave better, tip better, treat staff better. It will help improve the industry and may help the diner get that all important upgrade next time.”

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Buckman sets new 1500m PB

World championships finalist Zoe Buckman took advantage of a super-fast 1500m at the Diamond League meet in Oregon to improve her personal best and consolidate her position as the third-fastest Australian over the distance.
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Kenyan Hellen Obiri claimed the win on Saturday in three minutes, 57.05 seconds, with Buckman finishing ninth in 4:04.09, stripping 0.73 off the time she set at last year’s world titles in Moscow.

‘‘It was a real test of my strength going out that hard,’’ said Buckman, who sat 10 metres off the lead for much of a race set up by a pacemaker.

‘‘It was an ambitious pace but a lot of my 1500m races lately have been slow with an 800m kick so it was a real shock to my body.

‘‘I haven’t had that experience in a long time. Probably since worlds.’’

Buckman, 25, spent four years in Eugene attending the University of Oregon, but had not raced there since 2011.

‘‘Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous,’’ she said.‘‘I thought I would be more nervous than usual in front of my college crowd. This was my second home for many years. But I wasn’t intimidated at all because I’ve run at world champs now.

‘‘I’m a completely different athlete now.

‘‘I’m a little tired from all the recent travel, but I’m still happy with a PB because that’s what I came here for.’’

Australian steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze also bettered her PB on the weekend in a welcome return to form less than two months out from the Commonwealth Games.Competing at the Flanders Cup Meeting in Oordegem, Belgium, LaCaze guaranteed her spot on the Commonwealth Games team with an  a qualifying time of 9:37.16, which saw her place second in a race won by Charlotta Fougberg in a Swedish record of 9:34.61.

In other Australian action over the weekend, Ryan Gregson was sixth in the men’s mile in 3:53.85 at the Prefontaine meet in Oregon. After being in eighth spot at the bell, Gregson surged all the way to second before fading in the final 200 metres in a race won by American Leonel Manzano. Collis Birmingham was 12th in the 5000m.

The Diamond League circuit now moves to Rome, with world and Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson, world championships silver medallist Kim Mickle (javelin) and reigning Commonwealth discus champion Benn Harradine all in action on Thursday (early Friday AEST).The remaining members of the Commonwealth Games athletics squad will be announced on Thursday.

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Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps unsure if he has done enough to get Wallabies nod

Nick Phipps says he hopes Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie continues to follow form with selection in Australia’s three-Test hit-out against France this month.
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The Waratahs halfback refused to talk up his claim for higher honours, even after being voted players’ player by his teammates for an outstanding effort against the Chiefs in New Plymouth on Saturday.

Phipps said contributing to the Waratahs’ mounting finals hopes has meant more to him than hype surrounding his Test selection chances. But he admitted McKenzie’s public comments that form was king in the race for Wallabies selections had driven a lot of his work for the Waratahs this season.

“The message that form is so important from Ewen is something that’s been important to me and it’s been driving not just me but a lot of boys on,” Phipps said. “If I was given the opportunity, you know how honoured I’d be. The player I am this year, compared to last year or the year before that, is a lot different. If I get a chance I’d love it but, at the end of the day, it’s something that’s for people who are a lot smarter than me to decide.”

As teammate Paddy Ryan was called up to replace injured Test tighthead Ben Alexander (neck) in the Wallabies squad to face France this week, Phipps said the 12 NSW players who went into camp on Sunday would continue to work hard with the Waratahs and a coveted finals spot in mind.

“[The Test window] is a bit of a staller but it gives some of the boys who’ve been working their butts off all year another opportunity at international level,” he said. “We’ve talked about whoever’s picked working hard and the boys at home working hard, because we don’t want to stall that momentum when we come back. We play the Brumbies and we want to be firing and back to our best brand of football.”

In the final round of the regular season before the three-week Test window, all three potential Test halfbacks were in commanding form. Will Genia, plagued all season by form issues and the Reds’ fading finals hopes, turned out a season-best performance against the Highlanders on Friday, before Phipps and Brumbies rival Nic White also produced decisive games. Phipps has peaked nicely heading into the three-Test series against France, but refused to countenance any desire for higher honours.

“It’s good timing for the Tahs,” he said. “Being able to contribute something is more satisfying to me than people talking about higher selection honours. I’m just stoked that the Tahs are going well. We’re second on the table still and that’s something that all the boys are really happy about, being able to contribute. We’re sitting in top two now but there are three games left that are massive for us.”

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Cain able, but can he crack big time?

Port Melbourne midfielder Chris Cain is hopeful AFL clubs continue drafting mature age state league players as he clings to hope of realising his dream.
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Cain, regarded as one of the VFL’s premier midfielders, turns 27 this year and although he admits his “time’s probably past” in terms of the AFL clock, the lively Port Melbourne on-baller continued to impress onlookers in the VFL state league match on Saturday with 30 disposals.

“I think you sort of have to not give up as well because you never know what could happen,” Cain said.

Cain, who has blossomed right under the eyes of many AFL club recruiters, has watched his best mate Sam Dwyer get picked up by Collingwood in 2012 at 26.

Dwyer, who was influential on arrival, has gone on to play 25 matches with the Pies including four this season.

Brett Goodes (Western Bulldogs), James Podsiadly (Adelaide) and Ian Callinan (ex-Adelaide) were all 28 when they got a surprise call-up in their respective AFL drafts.

Orren Stephenson, a handy back-up ruckman at AFL level, was 29 when plucked by the Cats before Richmond gave him another shot.

Cain had arguably the best season of his career last season but was again, overlooked.

“I wasn’t really expecting a great deal, I’ve obviously learnt not to get too excited over talk here and there. If something was to happen, I’d be rapt but if not I’ll keep trucking along,” he said.

Cain said he and other older team-mates at Port have been revived this season given the influx of young midfielders to the team. Port Melbourne is undefeated and on top of the ladder; perhaps testament to veteran coach Gary Ayres’ strategies.

“I’m getting a bit more attention than what I have been over the last few years and I’ve been working through that and we’ve got enough midfielders through there now to chop and change,” he said.

“We’re probably not as reliant on our top few players as we have for the last few years. To have some of the younger guys step up in the midfield and give a lot of the older guys a bit of a rest has been good.”

Cain believes forward Julian Rowe could be an x-factor for AFL recruiters to consider at the end of the season considering his blistering start.

Rowe, a former Collingwood rookie, just turned 29 but is considered to be a late bloomer.

He was rampant in the state game on Saturday and kicked five goals for Port against Box Hill a week earlier.

“He’s [Rowe] having a decent year so you never know. He’s that sort of x-factor player who some clubs might want so you never know what might happen,” he said.

Sandringham’s Adam Cockie (25), Footscray’s Nick Lower (27) and Williamstown’s Scott Clouston (27) and Cameron Lockwood (26) are other top prospects that are considered to be racing against time for a shot at the big time.

Of course, history suggests there is still time for other prospects such as Box Hill’s David Mirra (23), Port Melbourne’s Josh Scipione (24), Bendigo’s Alik Magin (23) and Werribee’s Scott Sherlock (24). But the clock is ticking.

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Eurobodalla Surfriders join fight to ban plastic bags in Bali

Source: Bay Post
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SURFING a world-class break, Allen Grimwood remembers the day his spirits sank in an ocean of plastic

In 2007, the president of the Eurobodalla branch of the Surfrider Foundation Australia was surfing off the east coast of Bali, the tiny island he has loved since his first visit in 1981.

“It is one of the world’s best breaks,” Mr Grimwood said.

“Just paddling through the water, I was picking up plastic bags between my fingers.

“On the beaches were plastic bottles, syringes, all sorts of rubbish.

“That was an awakening for me.

“I have been there half a dozen times and surfed right around its coast.

“I have seen the environment change in terms of infrastructure development and traffic.

“A lot of it is good, it generates employment and income for the Balinese people, but at the same time there is a massive impact on their environment.”

PLASTIC PERIL: Rubbish in the water and on beaches has galvanized Eurobodalla surfers to help cleanup Bali and in their own backyard.

With the island loved to death by millions of visitors each year, Mr Grimwood and his fellow surfers have joined a Balinese campaign to gather a million signatures on a petition.

At the same time, they are cleaning up at home, collecting rubbish in the Eurobodalla, then sorting and counting it for a national data base.

Mr Grimwood hopes they can be effective at home and away.

“Bali’s governor Made Pastika has agreed to ban the manufacture, distribution and use of plastic bags in Bali if one million signatures were obtained,” he said.

“So far there have been just over 56,000 signatures.

“This area (Eurobodalla) has an incredibly strong environmental focus so I would expect we could achieve thousands of signatures.

“Surfers, and there are plenty of us around here, have a longstanding relationship with Bali.

“Eurobodalla people travel there regularly, so there is strong, long-term relationship with the island.”

Mr Grimwood said Bali’s waterborne rubbish was a combination of plastic used on the island and plastic floating from the South China Sea.

“The rubbish is mounting,” he said.

“It will collect on the beach and drift out to sea with the tide and then the wind will blow it back in.”

This year, Mr Grimwood set up the Eurobodalla branch of the Surfrider Foundation and members took part in Clean Up Australia.

Internationally, the foundation has launched a campaign, Rise Above Plastics.

This month, 15 people collected six bags of rubbish from a national park beach at Bingi and sent the data to the Tangaroa Blue campaign, a lobby group collating national figures to convince governments and manufacturers to reduce plastic waste.

For details visit www.avaaz.org and search for Bye Bye Plastic Bags on Bali.

Visit www.surfrider.org.au for ten ways to Rise Above Plastics.