Customer Experience

5 Ways Location Influences Restaurant Decision Making

By Tiffany Regaudie

Illustration of a hand holding up a platter with a city and a hand holding up a platter with the countryside

Location, location, location: you already know that choosing a location for your restaurant is one of the first steps to success. But do you know exactly how your location influences decision making when someone is deciding where to eat? 

In a TouchBistro study on how diners choose restaurants, we analyzed data on the many, many factors that come into consideration when people are making dining choices – including location.  

So here’s the hard evidence on how diners’ preferences differ based on dwelling – and what you can do as a restaurateur to cater to those preferences based on where you’re located.

1. Urban Dwellers Try New Restaurants More Often. 

Stats on urban diners who are more likely to try somewhere new

What you can do: 

If you’re in a rural area, offer a promotion to entice people out of their comfort zone.

If you’re in a suburban area and have access to some PR budget, host a themed event and get coverage from your local media.

If you’re in an urban area, launch a loyalty program: reward your customers with points just for visiting you, and create more return customers in the process.

2. Urbanites Go Online More Before Deciding Where to Eat.

Stats on why young people are glued to their phones on transit

What you can do:

If you’re in a rural area, redesign your online menu. Looks like 41% of people in your area will still check it out.

If you’re in a suburban area, make sure your whole website is up to snuff. Almost half of suburbanites will be checking out your online presence. 

If you’re in an urban area, make sure to engage with your online reviews. Respond to positive ones … and not-so-positive ones.

3. Rural and Suburban Diners Focus on Different Online Review Websites. 

Stats on where restaurant-goers check out reviews online

What you can do: 

If you’re in a rural area, Yelp is where you should pay the most attention. Check the platform regularly and respond to reviews there.

If you’re in a suburban area, you’ll sort of need to straddle TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, and Yelp at the same time. 

If you’re in an urban area, Yelp is your best friend. Embrace it. Become obsessed with it. And ask your customers to review you on Yelp.

4. Social Media is an Urbanite’s Restaurant Reference Dream. 

Stats on decisions to go to a restaurant based on positive or negative reviews and feedback.

What you can do: 

If you’re in a rural area, you should be okay if you focus on online review engagement over social media. Don’t forego a social media presence, but don’t spend all your time there either.

If you’re in a suburban area, take the time to respond to negative reviews on review websites a lot more than social media.

If you’re in an urban area, your social media needs to be on point. We’ve got you on this one – here’s our resource on how to rock it on social media.

5. Healthy, local food options are more important to urban dwellers.

Stats on healthy, local food options being more important to urban dwellers

What you can do: 

If you’re in a rural area, low calories and locally sourced food should at least make a guest appearance on your menu. Rural diners love to support their local farmers!

If you’re in a suburban area, locally sourced is king, even more so than lower calories. So make sure to source some tasty comfort food from your local vendors, such as local meats. 

If you’re in an urban area, locally sourced and low calories are still important, but you should definitely have a few vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options to cater to people’s diverse dietary restrictions.

Want to know more about what’s getting diners in the door?

A handbook spread of illustration of food and text
Understand How Diners Choose Restaurants

What gets customers in the door – and what keeps them out.

Photo of Tiffany Regaudie
by Tiffany Regaudie

Tiffany was the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she shared knowledge with restaurateurs on how to run their business. She’s passionate about traveling the world and getting to know communities through great food.

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