, 18 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
Google Assistant/Reserve With Google is causing severe damage to restaurants and is eroding the trust of restaurant guests. This needs to stop. A thread:
First, when you put out software that affects the livelihood of small businesses -- especially businesses that in many cases have razor-thin margins, you need to test the hell out of it, test it some more, then *monitor* it!
A customer makes a booking with Assistant and shows up and *there's no record of that booking* at all at the restaurant? What an awful experience! But don't believe me, see for yourself:
Like my Director of Engineering @robinanil, I'm pro AI as well, but this product needs work. See Robin's thread here:
@robinanil So, first, this stuff needs to be *bulletproof*. Drop a few reservations, and a restaurant overbooks. Create an anomalous one, and a restaurant might block a legit reservation from that night. The long and the short of it is lost revenue, and that *really* hurts small businesses!
@robinanil So the first point: You have to test this stuff and make sure it's working for *all cases. Now for the second point:
@robinanil Restaurants use modern booking systems like @tock with the ability to book through the web BECAUSE ANSWERING THE PHONES COSTS TIME AND MONEY (Not to mention that voice calls are basically retro tech at this point.
@robinanil @tock Every moment you're forcing a restaurant staffer to be on the phone talking to a robot when this can damned well be handled online one way or another is not only a waste of that employee's time, but money out of the pocket of the restaurant.
@robinanil @tock So the restaurateur either eats that cost or (most likely!) passes it along to their guests. Lovely.
@robinanil @tock And now for the third reason this entire Assistant integration is a problem: More and more restaurants are offering *specific and different experiences* at the same time!
@robinanil @tock It's no longer "Table for two at 7:30PM on a Friday night." It's a choice of an ala carte menu, a tasting menu, a Chef's table, and more. If restaurants can't work this out in advance, they not only lose the ability to offer these options, but they're likely wasting food too.
@robinanil @tock On top of that, there are add-ons (e.g. cookbooks, wine pairings, etc.) that are easy to offer online but oh not particularly hospitable to put people on the spot with as they're ordering.
@robinanil @tock So this whole thing is taking us backwards and not forwards (at least for the restaurants -- it's probably great fo the Google Assistant teams engagement numbers)
@robinanil @tock Restaurants are not just a time, date, and number of guests. This is 2019, not 1998.

I've spent the last five years of my life trying to find ways to make things better for restaurants *and* their guests, and this is just. downright. infuriating.
@robinanil @tock Here's just one of hundreds of examples: . exploretock.com/theaviary starts with 4 different experiences (prepaid) *and* each experience has different add-ons! That's so much more than a time a date and a party size.
@robinanil @tock It's hard enough to drive useful new tech forward without this kind of backwards-thinking tech pulling you backward at the same time. Ugh.
@robinanil @tock Oh, and here's the One More Thing: this system is incomplete if it can't handle arbitrary questions that might come up. What if the restaurant has stairs in part of the dining room and needs to know mobility requirements?
@robinanil @tock What about dietary restrictions? Special celebrations? Anniversaries? Birthdays? Can it handle when the reservationist asks if they want to buy a bottle of champagne? I could go on, but my point is that the base case in 2019 is way broader than you might think.
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