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The Michelin Guide is going digital. The iconic red book is no more. Instead, the famed restaurant review and guide books have developed a proprietary app for iOS and Android, which offers users an interactive experience. The app promises to help consumers quickly find information on nearby Michelin-rated restaurants, and unique hotels.

Bar and Restaurant spoke with Nora Vass, Director of Food and Travel Experience for Michelin North America to discuss the guide’s new digital-only experience. While it may not directly impact your own operations, the move highlights what we’ve been seeing for the last two years: the world is going digital faster than ever before. If the 121 year-old guide, which is notoriously adverse to change, is embracing technology, so can you.

Why did Michelin decide to go all digital, and forego the iconic red guides?

The content, not the delivery method, is the core of the Michelin selection. Going digital makes it possible for us to put the entire global Michelin Guide all in one place, and allows us to distribute it free of charge to a larger audience. We recognize that the printed guides are legendary, and that for many people they represent freedom and adventure. What better way to honor that history than with a global guide that fits in your pocket? 

Can you tell us a bit about the UX of the new interface? What can people do on the app?

Users can find every Michelin-rated restaurant in the world, with the ability to search by name, location, cuisine, and even chef. They can see which Michelin Guide restaurants are located near them while they’re on the move or when they’re planning a trip to a future destination. Restaurants added to the Michelin Guide are now added in real-time, ensuring you always have access to the most up-to-date selection and reviews (no more waiting for the next book to be released). Most restaurants can be booked through the app via global partners like RESY, Open Table, and TheFork. 

Engagement is another key focus of the app. The new Michelin Guide has created a space for its community through user profiles and the ability to endorse (“love”) restaurants and hotels. Users can also create restaurant and hotel wishlists — saving their favorites, sharing them with others, and discovering lists authored by experts and aficionados. 

How does the digital-only guide fit into Michelin’s overall digital strategy?

Digital is no longer an alternative distribution channel but a mainstream part of our lives. We want to reach everyone who loves and appreciates food and travel, and the accessibility of a free digital product will help us achieve that goal while following through on Michelin’s commitment to reducing waste and improving sustainable business practices. Giving Michelin Guide users access to real-time information and a platform for engagement makes digital the ideal format for the future.

What other innovations can we expect from Michelin moving forward?

The introduction of community features in the app lays the groundwork for functionality that can leverage the knowledge of like-minded people to improve how we evaluate our selections. We’ll continue to increase the opportunities for engagement, bringing users the ability to love/endorse individual people/profiles, add notes to list items, have verified accounts, and plot points of interest, including their own restaurant and hotel recommendations. We’ll also accomplish full feature parity across all of our platforms, so users will have the ability to discover, plan, share, and book future journeys entirely within the Michelin Guide and Tablet Hotels universe.

What advice do you have for operators who are wary of bringing tech into their venues?

Today’s consumers expect instant gratification, and they expect it to be facilitated by technology and real-time interaction with brands and businesses. Restaurants and hotels are experiential by nature — hospitality is their entire purpose — so they’re ideally suited to thrive in this environment. Technology can allow them to be more efficient, more responsive, and create more rewarding connections with their customers.

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