Interview with Dubai Bites
Please tell us about yourself, and why you started blogging.
I started Dubai Bites during my last semester of college. I was studying Mechanical Engineering and had a bit of free time before coming up to finals season, and started the blog on a whim.
After thinking of countless names (I was considering @saltandpepperdxb) I finally settled on ‘Dubai Bites’.
I have always loved photography, and food photography in particular was something I did all the time. When I was younger, I would come up with random aliases online and review restaurants as though I were a food critic. So now, with a ‘real’ food blog, I could finally make a lasting attempt at garnering an online reputation for my reviews.
Once I finally got started blogging, I absolutely loved it. I went from just the Instagram page, to a Twitter page, then to Facebook, then to running a website.
Running Dubai Bites opened me up to the world of digital marketing, and played a big factor in me leaving engineering behind in favor of a career in marketing. A little over a year later, I couldn’t be happier with the opportunities this blog has given me, and I haven’t looked back once.
What are your thoughts on the Food & Drink scene in general?
I think the Food and Beverage scene, in Dubai in particular, is currently going through an awkward period of change. Whereas in the past all it took was good food to keep customers coming back, now it takes a lot more.
Customers now expect a restaurant to serve not only a decent meal, but one that is photogenic and comes with a free show. As a food blogger this obviously makes my life a lot easier, but I could see how it might make some more stand-offish about going out to eat.
It’s almost like guests don’t have the choice of opting into whatever dry ice fueled show a restaurant decides to present anymore. And sometimes all we want is a good meal without all the trimmings.
What are the Top 3 factors that customers consider before choosing a place to eat?
- and Proximity to other forms of entertainment
How important are Mobile Apps and Social Media in the decision making process?
As a food blogger, I truly believe that Social Media is currently the best way to learn about restaurants.
Whether it be for restaurant discovery or just to keep in the loop with all the latest offerings, social media is the easiest way to tap into a world of food. Before visiting a restaurant, whether it’s for a food review or a casual outing, I’ll check their Instagram page to see what looks best. Ill then go over to Zomato to read some honest reviews to get a better impression. And then if I need to make a reservation, I’ll book from an app.
All of this is done over the phone now, and in the age of technology, restaurants that aren’t using this to their advantage are going to get left behind for sure.
How could F&B businesses in the UAE improve their service both online and offline?
One thing that I find the UAE lacks is good customer service. When it comes to restaurants in particular, I feel like the whole notion of “the customer is always right” gets thrown out the window.
I think that restaurant management does not empower their staff with the right tools and training to better handle situations when they arise on the dining floor.
When it comes to online services, restaurants need to understand that we, as customers, have come to expect a lot more. If we are looking for a restaurant to visit and their website or Zomato page is missing a menu or has incorrect hours, we just move on.
Simply taking a few minutes every week or month to make sure everything is up to date online can make a huge difference on how the public perceives a restaurant.
What predictions do you have for future F&B trends?
I think over time the obsession in Dubai with molecular gastronomy will come to its much needed end.
How many times do we need to see our dessert prepared with liquid nitrogen? Probably, just once.
Eventually, customers will go back to valuing a restaurant for its good food, rather than viewing it as a form of live entertainment. Because let’s face it, how many times have any of us gone back to a restaurant purely for the show? What really makes people come back is the food, time and time again.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
When I started Dubai Bites, I had only planned for it to cater to the hidden gems of Dubai. But as the page grew, so did the number of restaurants reaching out to me from other Emirates. It’s amazing to get the opportunity to explore new cities that I wasn’t previously accustomed to.
Recently, I have had a friend join the blog and help to reach the Abu Dhabi F&B market. With her on the team now, Dubai Bites has been able to double up on coverage and really grow the blog to its full potential.
So watch out Abu Dhabi, we’re coming for you!
Where can we find you Online?
Facebook: Dubai Bites