1993 when I moved back to Bombay, there were restaurants, good, very good & fantastic. These ranged from a Shiv Sagar, Elco to the Oberoi, Taj, Leela.
2013-4 fast forward and there were so many restaurants that it would require a couple of lifetimes to visit all of them. Restaurants just keep opening. Everybody wants to create a brand instantly and thanks to Bloggers, Twitter, FaceBook it may be possible? I don’t know but the social media and PR agencies definitely think so.
This translates into “Restaurant Invites” New launch, new menu, introductory, you name it there is an invite. 90% of the invites are general sent as an email blast with the hope that there would at least be 40-50 people who would turn up.
For some reason, I end up receiving some of these generic emails, which I ignore or delete mostly. And yes some very specific ones also, which I have always tried to respond and attend.
I have been asked by friends, acquaintances, twitterati about why do I object or not wish to attend these. So here goes…..
1) I am not a food blogger in the truest sense, can’t write for nuts; however I love food, share thoughts about new/old places on my blog as well as Zomato Google TripAdvisor FaceBook Burrp and many other Digital platforms.
2) I rarely if ever do Non Commercial Blogger/Janta meets or similar.
3) I mostly try and visit restaurants at least 2 times with different sets of people at least 2-5 — friends, family, colleagues other foodies, bloggers — before writing and emphatically specifying my personal likes about food.This is not always possible when an Review Invite is sent.
4) Service and Experience is my biggest consistency requirement ☺ Food can be bad one off times, the chef may have had a fight with his wife, not got his salary and so on.
5) I can probably count the invites accepted to review and write because most restaurants and PR companies have a time limit and request for Positive review requirement. AND given the fact that it is not my business I cannot adhere to that, also add to the fact that old age is creeping up.
6) When invited, I ask for a waiver on point 5 and there is always a disclaimer on my blog, which at times leads to silence and no response.
7) If I am asked to host a table, it becomes a commercial transaction. Just by allowing me to invite 4-6 people you’re not doing me a favour. You’re actually subcontracting your work to me and in that case you pay me.
8) I also prefer to be clear of all inclusions, exclusions, contact person details to avoid complications.
9) At the end, does all of this make sense, sure it does to me. And that is what matters.
After reading this, and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions — Any Restaurant, Hotel, Social Media, PR Agency wants to still invite me, I would be more than happy to accept the invite.