Fine Food Australia is the leading trade exhibition for the food industry, showcasing all the latest products, attracting buyers from Australia’s favourite restaurants, cafes, bakeries, retailers, caterers, bars & hotels.Our very own Ryan Shelley will feature at Fine Food Australia on Thursday 14th September 2017 to discuss the power of social media for hospitality businesses.As a keynote speaker at the Fine Food Festival 2017, Ryan shared a sneak peek of his upcoming talk.

Social Media: The (Not So) Secret Weapon of Successful Hospitality Businesses

Ryan Shelley, Managing Director of Pepper IT, knows a thing or two about social media. For the last few years, he has been especially prolific in providing real social media solutions to businesses across Australia – many of which are in the hospitality industry.

In fact, Ryan believes that the very nature of hospitality makes it ripe for social media marketing, “The amazing thing about social media is the ability for patrons to share a great experience with a huge audience, instantly. People not only love food, they love being seen as in the loop and on trend and that’s what makes social media a very effective tool for restaurants and cafes – when leveraged correctly, of course.”

Drawing on his many years of experience at the helm of an international digital agency, Ryan is all too aware of the pitfalls many business owners fall into when trying to establish themselves online, “Whether you’re a café owner or a general manager of a restaurant chain, it’s easy to forget that social media is, first and foremost, Social. Too many businesses get caught up in the numbers, the ‘followers’, the ‘likes’. Now, I’m not saying these things aren’t important, but more crucial to the business is ROI – you need to engage and cultivate genuine fans and customers that convert into covers, and that’s something I’m excited to share with the audience on Thursday.”

When asked about the common fear many businesses had over receiving criticism and negative reviews on social media, Ryan explained that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, “One of the most common mistakes we notice is businesses hiding or deleting comments that are critical of them, from food to service to even the temperature in the restaurant. That is not the answer. The funny thing about criticism is that, on social media, it’s actually a great facilitator of dialogue – you can assuage fears, you can justify certain decisions, you can start a conversation. There really are a lot of ways to make these types of comments work in your favour.”