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Thrillist’s Eat Seeker relishes restaurant commerce with immersive mobile maps

Thrillist’s new Eat Seeker digital hub is taking on Foursquare and other location-based platforms by enabling mobile and Web users to interact with an immersive map, find insider information on local restaurants and save potential venues to visit later.

The Eat Seeker platform, which is accessible via mobile or desktop, aims to provide more specificity to individuals searching for their next place to grab a bite instead of offering a long list of options to sift through. The Jaguar-sponsored mobile-optimized hub enables users to swipe upward to see an interactive map of top-rated establishments in their areas and receive more information about each venue before deciding where to dine.

“We create dozens and dozens of stories each month about specific kinds of restaurants you need to eat at in a city, or restaurants from specific neighborhoods, and even stories about the overall best, that would burn bright at the outset but become outdated,” said Ben Robinson, editorial director at Thrillist. “So we wanted to create a constantly updated guide to what was fantastic and meaningful right now – not Balthazar or Katz’s or other stalwarts that have been fantastic for decades and are an ingrained topographical feature of the city’s culinary landscape.

“Instead, we wanted to call out the places that are a little fresher on the scene, or are doing something at this very moment that people need to know about – and maybe wouldn’t if they didn’t have Eat Seeker.”

Mobile restaurant guides
As consumers continue treating their smartphones as on-the-go digital guides, marketers are leveraging a slew of location-based technologies and platforms to ensure they reach target users at critical moments of decision.

Thrillist’s new Eat Seeker hub was designed to cater to the brand’s mostly millennial audience, which often times makes dining decisions while on the go. The constantly-updating feature enables individuals in more than 40 cities to quickly find the best eateries in their locations.

Consumers can visit on their smartphones or desktops to access the platform. Using GPS technology, Eat Seeker will determine each user’s current location and display an immersive map that highlights the best dining establishments nearby.

For example, if an individual is looking for restaurants in Lower Manhattan, Eat Seeker will showcase the top twenty or so eateries in that area, with each bearing a number. Eat Seeker users can click on a number to bring up a small informational window, which can be expanded.

Once expanded, the window will show the restaurant’s name, photos, venue information and a short paragraph detailing the cuisine.

If the restaurant falls under a consumer’s preferences, he or she can tap on its name to open a new page within Eat Seeker that displays its street address, Web site URL and phone number. Google Maps functionality is also built into the platform, allowing mobile users to seamlessly receive walking directions to the venue.

They may also choose to scroll down and explore similar spots nearby if they are still unsure about their decision.

If consumers are planning to have a later meal, they can save their preferred restaurant within Eat Seeker.

Catering to mobile-minded millennials
Eat Seeker’s features were curated to appeal to mobile savvy millennials, a demographic that makes up a large portion of Thrillist’s readership. Eat Seeker users can also explore popular recipes on Thrillist’s mobile site and save them for later.

“The world is mobile and across the board that’s where our users are – even more so when you’re looking at users out in the world trying to find somewhere to go in real time,” said Annie Trombatore, vice president of product at Thrillist Media Group. “In this day and age, if your product doesn’t work well in mobile, why even create it?

“You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a crisp mobile map experience outside of an app,” she said. “We add an extra layer for our users in that they can not only find spots to go, they can also save them to their account to visit later.

“So we’re tackling both use cases there.”

Location-based discovery platforms have proven to be particularly enticing for millennial consumers, a notion that has prompted several marketers to include those features in their latest mobile iterations.

For example, Nestle Waters’ Sanpellegrino Sparkling Fruit Beverages brand uncapped location-based discovery with the recent rollout of the Delightways mobile app, which leverages a partnership with Foursquare to highlight a city’s most interesting attractions and up-and-coming hot spots (see story).

However, Eat Seeker differs from platforms such as Foursquare due to its ability to pinpoint the best-rated restaurants in a specific area, rather than offer users a massive list of options to explore.

“Our users come to us because they don’t want to sift through tons of content and recommendations,” Ms. Trombatore said. “They trust our curation and want us to tell them ‘the’ place to go – not every place that exists.”