If you’re a Sydney restaurateur, you should probably ask your customers to stuff the ballot box of Zagat. The now Google-owned guide has just opened up to Sydney restaurants and attractions, with Melbourne soon to come. Compared to US cities where Zagat is an established brand, Australia will have a relatively small group of users log in to vote in the initial rounds of the survey and so this will be a relatively simple vote to game.
It also begins to bring into question how sustainable the big, capsule review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon will be in Australia as Google can throw their absolute search dominance and money behind chasing reviews.
Google has bought gastronomic capsule-review bible, Zagat. From the Google blog:
So, today, I’m thrilled that Google has acquired Zagat. Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering—delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world.
Which is great news, if you happen to live in the top half of the world. Zagat doesn’t have a single guide that covers anywhere further south than Barbados.
For food writing in Australia and New Zealand this means one of two things:
- Google buys a local food publication. They’ve got infinitely deep pockets, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I just can’t think of anyone worth buying or that isn’t chained to some other empire.
- Google opens a Zagat office here. And watch the food editors flee from their offline posts.