Restaurateurs see increased focus on consumer interactivity and transparency

Restaurateurs are trying out new and varied ways of reaching consumers and convincing them to dine out.

Restaurateurs are trying out new and varied ways of reaching consumers and convincing them to dine out. While the restaurant industry has always been a tough one to succeed in, today's major players are getting creative so they can continue to serve up hot dishes.

In the coming year, consumers will benefit from some exciting new trends in the restaurant industry in which owners focus on providing diners with more information about their food while leveraging new technologies to reach customers.

For example, more restaurants will be engaging with patrons through social media. According to the website BlueMauMau, restaurateurs will look increasingly to networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and foursquare to influence diners' networks. Additionally, review sites such as Yelp and OpenTable could help some restaurants reach new crowds of eaters.

But be warned: Owners and managers will want to ensure a dedicated member of staff is monitoring these sites. If a bad review or complaint does arise, it should be dealt with in a swift and respectful manner. Don't sweep the problem under the rug - publicly address it and rectify the situation.

Additionally, diners are clamoring for more information about their food. How many calories does the dish contain? Are there any potential allergens in the dish? Where are the ingredients sourced from? "A small but growing number are serious about nutrition, labeling, sustainability and community involvement, and they are using such knowledge to make purchasing decisions," the website writes.

In terms of local sourcing, many eateries are finding buying local to be a practical, sustainable, option. BlueMauMau explains that the use of seasonal and local produce and other items accords well with the "less-is-more culinary trend." Additionally, it allows restaurants save money - especially on costs like transport and fuel - while creating a more efficient and sustainable supply chain.

And don't forget to market these efforts. Consumers like to know that they're drinking fresh milk straight from the local farm or indulging in vegetables grown right down the street.

Lastly, restaurants will want to make sure they continue to solicit customer feedback and advice. Do patrons like to receive deals via email? Or would they just prefer to seek out information from social networking pages? Asking customers for the input will make them feel involved and allow eateries to continue to sizzle.