1. (ALMOST) ALL YOU NEED IN ONE PLACE: Almost every thing you can know about a restaurant is available in one page! No mean task to get the menus of so many thousands of restaurants, and keep them updated as well! Can't praise enough how much time it saves to browse the menu even before getting to the restaurant! Integration with Maps and Photos make it even better! Going through a restaurant's Zomato page is like half-visiting the restaurant itself!
2. RELEVANT RATINGS: The biggest danger of a system like this would be the potential misuse by jobless jacks and even restaurant teams, by generating fake positive ratings for their restaurants and negative ratings for competitors. Zomato has a system in place to weed out spam ratings, and ensuring they do not impact the aggregate rating. They also separate the verified reviewers' reviews from that of the not-so-active members. One area of improvement here: There should be a way to remove ratings (from the aggregate) older than 1-2 years, because a restaurant's standard may have drastically improved/deteriorated, and old irrelevant ratings shouldn't contribute to the current standing of a restaurant.
3. FANTASTIC MANAGEMENT/TEAM: The UI, leaderboard system, and other features are constantly evaluated and improved upon. And now, they are seeking a public appraisal. This takes a lot of guts, and shows maniacal intention of the management/employees to be the best out there! As an active contributor to Zomato, my feebdack and reportings are always promptly acknowledged/answered which tells me the folks that work at Zomato share fantastic passion about what they do.
HMMM... (Areas of Improvement)
1. WEB/MOBILE INTERFACE AND FILTERS:
a. Not sure if this was designed so, or if it's a bug, but the 'Recent' viewed restaurants list does not sync between PC and mobile. If I have viewed a restaurant through PC, when I check my phone app later, it would be useful to see the same sync-ed with my login.
b. Change the 'Budget' filter to a draggable slider, so we can select the lower and upper limits. If my budget is Rs.1000, I currently only have the option of looking at 'Rs.500-Rs.1000'. I have to click separately for the 'Rs.250-Rs.500' range, and another for the 'Less than Rs.250' range.
c. The 'Nearby' filter in the Android app does not work properly. The distance is never displayed correctly.
f. Include ambiance indicator. It is very difficult to judge the ambiance for several restaurants, due to insufficient pictures/reviews. Similar to classifying restaurants as being suitable for "a drink" or "hang out with friends", have indicators for "suitable for large groups", "suitable for families with kids", "pet-friendly", etc.
g. Highlight the top 3 dishes in each restaurant (based on user reviews). The print edition of the 2013 Connoisseur's Guide, for example, has a 'Not to be missed' section for each selected restaurant. The online version can have a similar 'Must try' section too.
2. THOSE JUICY EXTRAS: While Zomato excels because they are very focused in what they do, they have recently introduced a section for 'Catering' services. Similarly, some other value-add services can be:
a. Table Bookings: I go to Zomato to find restaurants, read about them, see pictures, locate them, see what's on their menu, and even get a number to call them. The cycle would be complete if I could click a few times and reserve a table for 4, directly through the Zomato page. The necessary contact details (such as my name and phone number) can be taken from my Zomato account, so no one can misuse this service.
b. Offers: Currently, some sponsored ads highlight discounts/promotions etc. Citibank deals are also integrated. This can be increased to consolidate all the deals/offers/festivals going on in Bangalore - such as Restaurant Week India, new restaurant promotions, etc.
3. TRANSPARENCY FOR CONTRIBUTORS:
a. Hall of Fame criteria/parameters can be shared, so there aren't questions/controversies about selections.
b. It is great that we can see the best reviews in the 'Featured Reviews' section. Similarly, if we can also see the winning entries for the weekly 'Write for a Bite' contests, it will give others an idea of what a 'winning review' looks like.