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订座App危害英国餐饮业?爽约不来的食客真多(双语)

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发表于 2018-9-28 22:41:07 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
  No one seems in much doubt that the restaurant industry in the UK is in
deep peril. A rational mind would cite increasing food costs, the difficulty of
hiring, crippling rents and insane business rates. Some might complain of issues
at a legislative level, such as the minimum wage, some of broader socio-economic
trends — perhaps widespread recession or just regional customer price
sensitivity. But if you listen to the chatter on social media among chefs and
restaurateurs, the real problem, the existential threat to everything we hold
dear in the hospitality industry, is the “no-show”.
          大家似乎都认为英国的餐饮业已深陷危机。通常,食材成本不断见涨、招聘员工越趋困难、房租费用过高以及营业税率高得离谱等诸多原因是大家经常会提及的。有些人可能会把相关问题(如最低工资以及更为深远的社会经济发展趋势)向各级立法机构倒苦水,也许这是由英国全国性的经济衰退或只是各地消费者对价格的敏感程度所造成的。但是若是查看社交媒体上厨师与餐馆老板的聊天记录,餐饮业真正的症结(关乎酒店餐饮业生死存亡的危机)是顾客的“爽约”。
          No-shows used to be pretty rare but recently they have become common. Most
restaurants report that it gets worse during the busiest times. One independent
restaurateur reported having more than half his tables fail to show, without
warning, on Valentine’s evening.
          爽约者在以前很少见,但近几年变得司空见惯。多数餐馆称生意最繁忙时情况更严重。一位自主餐馆经营者说,情人节当晚一半以上的预订者在未预告店方的情况下爽了约。
          The commercial effect a no-show has on a restaurant can range from entirely
negligible to catastrophic. Restaurants in cities in Italy, Spain or Greece can
sometimes run without taking bookings at all. If the place looks buzzing, more
people will keep turning up and staff will do anything short of whittling new
stools out by the bins to seat everyone. Our system runs on tighter lines and if
a restaurant isn’t in a place with the sort of footfall that keeps London
profitable, it could end up with eight seats empty for two hours. Or, if they’re
more fortunate, their table could be split into four “two tops” and filled with
“walk-ins” within minutes of declaring the original booking a washout.
          爽约,对餐馆的经营业绩影响千差万别:从完全忽略不计到灭顶之灾的都有。意大利、西班牙以及希腊等国城市的餐馆有时能完全无须靠预订来经营。餐馆门庭若市,用餐者络绎不绝,服务员也会绞尽脑汁(就差把各种箱子倒腾成凳子用了)让每位用餐者都有座。但预订对英国餐馆很重要,如果餐馆不在伦敦足球文化发达地段(足球让伦敦挣得盆满钵满),8个餐位很可能会空档两小时。运气好的话,原订单因客人爽约而作废后,把餐桌分成4个“两人桌”,安排临时订餐者就坐。
          Still, there are no two ways about it: at the work face, on the floor or at
the pass, the party that doesn’t show up is a punch in the gut. There is a
strong chance a no-show will hurt a restaurant’s bottom line, it’s definitely an
unwanted inconvenience and it’s absolutely, without question, incredibly rude on
the part of the customer.
          尽管如此,这样做也是迫不得已:爽约者会让餐馆损失惨重,很有可能会损害餐馆效益。它给餐馆带来了不必要的麻烦,而客户这样做毫无疑问也是极度失礼的行为。
          So what’s happened? Has Britain’s entire restaurant-going population
suddenly turned into insensitive, entitled bastards? Customers rarely change
their attitudes en masse spontaneously. There have to be causes, and instead of
entertaining notions of a Giant Conspiracy of Punters, we might think for a
moment about what those could be.
          那么现状究竟如何呢?是不是英国所有的下馆子的人突然之间都变成了满不在乎、实打实的混帐东西?消费者不可能自发地同时改主意,这其中肯定另有原因。
          When online booking engines first arrived — OpenTable, one of the earliest
and most successful, was launched in San Francisco 20 years ago — they sold
themselves in two directions. To the customer they offered a new way to book.
Quick, efficient and fair. You could go online, find a choice of tables in
increasingly busy restaurants and not have to listen to hold music. Even being
refused a table was better — you didn’t have the humiliation of a human telling
you they were full up on the night you wanted. You could plan your evening from
your screen. At the same time, the restaurants gained full tables and a
high-tech, usually free electronic diary with all sorts of cunning systems for
tracking customers and storing their data. They could keep track of regular
customers’ needs without requiring a big book or a ma?tre d’ with a memory like
an elephant and, best of all, you could fire the receptionist and not bother
answering the damn phone all day. It was a benign innovation, a total
win-win.
          网上预订App刚推出时(20年前,OpenTable这家全球最早、也是最为成功的网上订餐App在旧金山推出),它们向两个方向推销自己。对消费者来说,它们提供了新型订餐模式:快捷、高效、一视同仁。消费者可以在网上越发火爆的餐馆中挑选心仪的桌位,而无需像电话订餐时那样耐着性子静听让您等候的背景音乐。即便订不上餐感觉也要好得多——不会遭受电话订餐中前台告知自己当晚已经订满的那种尴尬与难堪。诸位可在网上安排晚餐事宜。与此同时,餐馆实现了满订率,也获得了高科技支持:这些装备智能App的电子记事本能追踪顾客行踪并储存相应信息。它们能持续追踪老客户的需求(无需记录顾客信息的厚册子与记忆力超人的大堂经理):最棒的是,店家可以不雇前台小二,也无需整天接听烦人的订餐电话。这是个有百利而无一害的创新,是完完全全的双赢。
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发表于 2018-9-29 00:13:17 | 显示全部楼层

          But simply making booking more convenient is obviously not enough. The
wider ambitions of the booking engines are becoming more apparent. Look at your
phone now, tap into your favourite booking engine. Try to book a table in
another city a couple of weeks away. Difficult, isn’t it? Almost impossible on
some platforms. Because the system wants to know where you are and make
recommendations. Making a booking for you, in exchange for a small fee from the
restaurant, was a good start, but that’s not going to supply the kind of growth
that impresses investors. You need to “capture the consumer”, you need to be
able to use their data to predict their desires, the better to sell restaurants
that are prepared to pay more. Do you think those recommendations your phone
wants to make are based solely on what might delight you? Or do you think
they’re suggesting places that have stumped up for better placement?
          但是,仅仅便利消费者订餐显然还远远不够。订餐App有着更大的雄心抱负也是“昭然若揭”。看看如今自己的手机,打开自己喜欢的订餐App,想方设法预订另一城市几周后的桌位。难吧?有些订餐App几乎无法实现其功能。因为App想要你的具体位置后再行推荐。客户订餐成功后,店家会支付给App少量费用,这是个良好开端,但这种发展速度还无法让风险投资人心动。订餐App需要“牢牢抓住消费者”,要应用其资料预测其消费需求,向愿意进一步付费的餐馆提供优质信息。大家真觉得手机推荐的相关订餐信息的出发点仅仅是为了取悦你们吗?抑或说订餐App推荐的餐馆付费是为了争取更好的排名?
          Think you can get round it by simply calling the restaurant? Good luck.
Most are too busy to answer the phone now they’ve laid off the receptionist. In
fact, if you can actually get to the restaurant’s own website — you’ll find it
halfway down the second page of search results after the TripAdvisor reviews and
the booking engines — you’ll probably find it doesn’t actually list a phone
number. It makes no sense. Customers get hacked off after the 15th ring, and the
answering machine they installed just filled up with angry people shouting at
them.
          你可能想过直接电话订餐就可绕过这些App?若是如此,那真的是好运气。如今大多数生意火爆的餐馆已把前台小二打发回家,根本无暇接听电话。事实上,如果真能登录餐馆网址——你会发现它在搜索结果第二页的中间位置,排在猫途鹰(TripAdvisor)的评论与诸多订餐App后——你可能会发现它连联系电话都没有。因为电话毫无意义,电话铃响15遍后仍无人接听顾客通常会恼羞成怒,店家的联系电话应答机里满是气急败坏的消费者的吼叫声。
          This is called intermediation. Inserting yourself between buyer and seller.
Controlling access. It’s a bit like what the mob did to the booze industry under
Prohibition. The booking engines have got in between us and now there’s
absolutely nothing we can do about it.
          App被称为中间人,是买家与卖家(餐馆)之间的沟通者,即所谓的渠道控制人。这与美国犯罪分子在禁酒时期(Prohibition)所担负的角色有些类似。订餐App已成功在消费者与店家之间建立联系,我们对此如今已经无能为力。
          So yes. Customers have changed their attitude, but can anyone blame them?
In making a booking they’ve probably had to make all manner of compromises for
time and location. Of course, if they’re diligent or care about the people
they’re dining with, online booking also gives them the power to set up a couple
of alternatives. And when the time comes to make the final decision? Well,
strangely, they don’t recall having a conversation with the chef or the owner or
a smart and professional-sounding receptionist.
          所以说我们还是坦然接受它吧。消费者已转变态度,大家能责怪他们吗?消费者在订餐时,可能不得不就赶时间与具体地段做相应取舍与妥协。当然,如果他们熟知或是真心在乎共同进餐的人,网上订餐还能帮助制订几大备选方案。那么,一切都水到渠成,需要最后拍板了又该怎样呢?奇怪的是,消费者不会记得曾经与厨师、餐馆老板及能说会道的前台小二攀谈的事。
          In fact, they didn’t feel any more valued booking a table than they did
booking a seat on Ryanair. They feel precisely like a faceless commodity being
herded in to fill seats, fed quickly and spat back out at the end of their
“two-hour slot” while the staff hose down the table and set it up for the next
victims. Can they be arsed to call and cancel? The only truly amazing thing is
that some people are actually so polite that they do.
          事实上,与预订瑞安廉价航空公司(Ryanair)一样,消费者在订餐时,并没有感到店家对自己有多热情。自我感觉与没有尊严的人一样,赶鸭子似的去填补空座位、囫囵吞枣吃完饭,所预订的两个小时用餐时间一到,立马就被店家催赶着动身;而此时服务员已开始冲洗餐桌,为下一波“上当受骗者”准备了。难道他们就不能给店家打电话取消所订的餐吗?唯一真正有趣的是:有些人极富教养,真的打给店家电话,取消预订。
          I’m a restaurant critic and a restaurateur so I’ve got skin in both sides
of this game. Customers think restaurants don’t give a damn about them any more,
and restaurants think customers are inconsiderate oafs who have forgotten their
side of the social contract. Both are factually wrong.
          我既是美食评论家,又是经营餐馆者,所以我对两边情况都一清二楚。消费者认为餐馆毫不在乎自己,而餐馆一方认为消费者是不为他人着想的低能儿,忘记了必须遵守社会契约。实际上双方都有错。
          No-shows are rude and inconsiderate — there’s no way round that fact — but
I can’t actually blame them. Restaurants have thrown out their best tool in
customer service for a more glamorous model and I can’t actually blame them
either. Meanwhile, the online booking industry has effectively insinuated itself
as a new and powerful middle man in a place where, it turns out, they’re making
dining out worse for both buyer and seller while supposedly making it better. If
the blame for this mess lies anywhere, it lies there.
          爽约者既失礼又轻率——这一点勿庸质疑——但我不能归咎于他们;餐馆抛弃了服务消费者的黄金法宝,转而采用更为花里胡哨的招数(在线订餐),对此我同样不能责怪他们。与此同时,在线订餐App以全新而又强势的中间人角色成功“上位”于餐饮业,事实证明无论是对消费者还是店家,它们让下馆子“雪上加霜”,却自认为是锦上添花之举。真要为这一乱局找担责者,罪魁祸首就是这些App。
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