Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dining guides keep readers coming back for more

Looking for a Thai restaurant that delivers? A Chinese place that takes checks? A pizza joint that offers a student discount?

If you're in Boise, Idaho, you're in luck because The Arbiter, Boise State's independent newspaper, offers a searchable online dining guide.

Like many student papers, The Arbiter uses a dining guide powered by College Publisher. It invites readers to search restaurants by atmosphere (family, fine dining, romantic, sports bar), location or cuisine using a College Publisher template. Some newspapers, like The Daily Pennsylvanian at the University of Pennsylvania, creates special lists like "Best Places to Watch a Game" and "Best Places to Go With Parents."

You don't have to use College Publisher to set up a dining guide. The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's guide allows readers to search for bars and restaurants by district. The rival paper, The Daily Cardinal, offers a Bar Guide with daily specials.

The Daily Collegian at California State University, Fresno, invites readers to search for and comment on restaurants using a clickable map, powered by Community Walk.

Dining guides like these are fun and useful for readers and will keep them coming back to your site. Most are also interactive; users can post comments or rate the businesses listed. These kind of interactive features help build the relationship between a newspaper and its readers. And many restaurant guides generate advertising revenue.

If your paper doesn't have an online dining guide, think about starting one. Be sure to promote it in your print edition and feature it prominently on your Web site. Remember that the better you serve your community, the more your paper will be seen as a trusted resource.

Does your newspaper have a dining guide? Are you doing something new with reviews, reader comments or interactive maps? Share it by posting a comment here.

No comments: