TAO Asian Fusion is a selfie-friendly restaurant.
Evan Chen, the owner of the Long Island, New York-based concept, has found a way to turn the popular social media practice into a powerful marketing ally. When guests first enter the modern Asian restaurant, with its sleek marble bar, white stools, wooden booths, and touches of bamboo with contemporary lighting, they’ll likely notice the BuzzyBooth situated beside the hostess stand.
Chen heard about the booth from 25-year-old founder Jolina Li, a child of restaurateurs, and has been using it since TAO Asian Fusion opened in October 2015.
“BuzzyBooth hits different groups of customers—family, friends, and couples, and customers of all ages,” Chen says. “It’s a fun touch for customers entering and leaving the restaurant, and most importantly, it serves as a valuable marketing tool when customers share their photos on Facebook or Instagram.”
The BuzzyBooth is a digital photo station, like those you would see at theme parks or in movie theaters, which allows diners to capture the moment and share it with their social media networks. It’s free for customers, and the restaurant benefits on a few different levels. Firstly, a customized graphic frame surrounds the photo, which sends the restaurant’s brand into the social media universe without any in-house promotion. It also captures the user’s email and creates a database for future marketing use, such as loyalty programs, upcoming food specials, and other announcements.
“I think social media is a critical part of marketing for the restaurant,” Chen says. “We definitely want to utilize it to continuously promote our food, events, and any specials we have. Social media definitely has an impact on our sales. Platforms such as Facebook, Yelp, OpenTable, and others, are the main channels where our customers hear about us.”
Chen says the machine, which costs $2,500 and installs in about 15 minutes, is eye-catching on its own, and draws customers into the booth. And during dinner, TOA Asian Fusion turns on the LED light that surrounds the selfie screen for even more exposure. To date, Chen says people have enjoyed the experience, which promotes the restaurant in a very passive and friendly way. The restaurant doesn’t need to send out requests via email or force-feed its social media audience; the machine is a self-starter in that respect.
“We have received all positive reactions from the BuzzyBooth, and we encourage our staff to be involved whenever customers comment on it,” Chen says. “It’s an interactive tool that is easily used and creates a lot of buzz. Overall, I’m very satisfied with the product and the marketing results that it has able to achieve.”