Whitbread Restaurants Leverages Yext to Optimise Listings and Search Visibility
- Food Service & Hospitality
- United Kingdom
Established in 1742, Whitbread is one of the UK’s oldest and most well-respected companies. What started out as the first purpose-built mass-production brewery in the UK has since evolved into the UK’s biggest hospitality company. Whitbread now holds the UK’s leading hotel brand, Premier Inn, and its most popular coffee shop brand, Costa — in addition to Whitbread Restaurants, which encompasses the brands Brewers Fayre, Beefeater and Table Table. Although Whitbread’s core businesses have changed over the years, the company remains true to Samuel Whitbread’s founding spirit to put its customers at the heart of everything it does, all the while looking at ways to innovate and stay ahead.
“We are a restaurant business offering value-focused food propositions,’’ states Lucy Willman, Marketing Operations Manager of Whitbread Restaurants. “It’s tricky because each brand has its own offering, but that’s the throughline. And there’s a lot of heritage in our brands. We’re not a brewery anymore, but we have that heritage in the UK. We have evolved over time, becoming well-loved British food eateries.”
For Willman, search discoverability is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge. “Local search is really vital for us because often people are just looking for something that is nearby,” she explains. “If a customer says, ‘food near me,’ and our details are incorrect, then the search engine could direct them to one of our competitors — and that will be the end of the game for us. So we need to make sure that people can find us simply, and with brand-verified information.”
Willman came to realise she would need a single, centralised platform to control all of that important information. “If you’re trying to find a restaurant as an individual, how do you find it? We already had a pretty good handle on social media, but at the time, we weren’t responding to reviews, and were basically just letting them sit there. We knew that was wrong, and decided to put our energy into our pages on review sites, and start thinking about strategy — all of that good stuff. We had a conversation with a colleague who was doing a fantastic job with one of our subsidiaries. We said to him, ‘Tell us what you do.’ He told us, ‘You’ve got to speak with Yext. Because with Yext, these review sites become windows into your shopfront, and all of the search outlets are like the door. That’s the way people are going to find what they need to actually enter your restaurants.’ So that was where our relationship with Yext started.”
Whitbread Restaurants uses Yext The Search Experience Cloud to manage its local online presence. Yext enables brands such as Whitbread Restaurants to manage its brand information across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems, and the entire Knowledge Network — the industry’s largest ecosystem of maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems, and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, Yelp, and more.
“Whitbread is on a huge journey,” Willman says. “A few years ago, we started a big program to update our restaurants. The brand logo changed, site interiors, menus — everything. Yext helps with that process as it allows us to update changes instantly.”
Now with over 18,000 live listings, Whitbread Restaurants has greatly improved its online presence since first launching with Yext. 21,000+ addresses and 14,000+ phone numbers have been corrected, 35,000+ photos have been added, and 33,000+ business descriptions have been updated. The company has experienced a 55% increase in Google Search views, a 52% increase in Google Maps views and a 33% YoY growth in clicks on listings.
Looking ahead, Willman believes that the power of brand-verified information will become even more important to consumers. “People want to find things near them, instantly, and not think about it,” she says. “They need that information to be correct. I think we’ll see an increase in the amount of information available. This is going to become more powerful and useful — and it’s great for our stores to be engaged with a search experience cloud like Yext, that’s going to support us.”