More Zintro experts talk about Google and Zagat

Google recently purchased Zagat, the publisher of review books for restaurant, hotel and other local attractions world-wide. Experts believe that this is Google’s way of acting on its quest to connect to local markets. Our Zintro experts were eager to comment on this collaboration. Here is what they had to say.

Seth Lewis, an experienced hotelier, restaurateur and educator, says news of the merger was interesting uplifting exhilarating news. “This is a great bridge between old school old media and new media. Here is Zagat, one of the original communities that was built on pencils and paper, photocopiers, and staples, selling up to Google. What this does is bring two strong brands together and makes Zagat far more scalable in terms of technology. Zagat online was never as easy to use as Zagat in print,” he says. “Now Google has content that is user generated, a credible, untainted Trip Advisor. Google should be able to broaden Zagat’s horizons, combine in some way with Google Maps, and make it the first choice for consumer-driven hotel, restaurant, nightlife and shopping reviews.”

AYS Consulting, a restaurant business consultant, thinks the merger will help Google because patrons and restaurateurs alike trust Zagat and look to see what the ratings are when the new editions come out. “It is the 1970’s version of Yelp that has survived almost four decades of changes in both the restaurant scene and the publishing scene. Now, it is conquering the digital scene,” he says. “Restaurants are proud to post their Zagat reviews (if they are good, obviously), but I’ve never seen anyone post their Yelp score. I find in general the users of Yelp are unprofessional, where at least Zagat has editors and professional questionnaires to filter the results. With Google’s technology and global reach, it can easily help Zagat enter the smallest markets domestically and internationally. This will be a successful symbiotic relationship for both.”

Kenneth Sharp, a strategic management consultant, says that the Zagat rating system and editorial process is as important to the deal as the reviews themselves. “While it does rely on user generated content, Zagat has checking systems and editorial input that straight online review sites lack. This endears it more to the business being reviewed as they feel that there is less chance to manipulate reviews that they feel is present with Trip Advisor, Yelp, and other review sites,” says Sharp. “This will help when Google goes to these same businesses looking for local advertising.”

Sharp points out that Zagat’s short, often witty reviews, born out of the paper publishing necessity, fit with display search results, especially for mobile devices, which provides searchers with what they want: quick, easy to read, relevant information. The fact that Google plans to keep the Zagat brand and continue publishing it means that it will keep the brand value that Zagat has in the eyes of the user and the businesses.

Jay Bandy, a restaurant and business consultant, says that the purchase of Zagat by Google has strategic value on several levels. “First, it will elevate the reviews on Google Place pages. Currently, Google Place pages have random postings aggregated from a number of websites. There is not a vetted review site like Zagat that is available through a Google Place page. Zagat will allow Google to compete with FourSquare, Yelp, Urban Spoon, City Search, and other sites for grabbing the local business/restaurant reviews in a market. Many people go to Yelp and other sites but must wade through many rants to get to the details they want. The Zagat guide as it is today is a much easier to use tool and the information has more integrity,” he says. “Lastly, the purchase continues to build Google’s portfolio as the place to go for information and reviews of any kind.”

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