Eight Spots: Improving the Science of Culinary and Sipping Satisfaction

  For good reason, people hesitate to rely on a website or mobile app to steer them toward the best places to eat, drink, and…


For good reason, people hesitate to rely on a website or mobile app to steer them toward the best places to eat, drink, and be merry. Countless sources claim to provide the best advice on food and other products, but most of them fall well short of their goal. There are a few companies that seem to have gotten things right in many ways, and now we’ve gotten just a bit closer to the point where we can all but abandon word of mouth. We here at Fueled have already written about two of these intriguing types of services:  Urbandig and Stamped.  And soon to be launched Eight Spots will change the game again with its take on eating and drinking recommendations.

Urbandig thrives on the advice of locals, with presence in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, and San Francisco. They posit that city natives know best when it comes to food and drink, city staples, and historic sites, and can therefore accurately and effectively guide visitors. Users of Urbandig must love the fact that they don’t have to stop strangers on the streets of an unfamiliar city to ask where to eat, and so on. As a traveler seeking superb dining experiences, I’d lean toward listening to what my friends have to say rather than the opinions of people I’ve never met, despite expertise based on their hometown. As heavily discussed, context-free input provides little in terms of trustworthy evidence.

A simpler but similar app is Stamped.  Stamped also lets customers approve more than just food. Actually, they can approve almost anything, from music to movies to dishes. As you might expect, to Stamp a product or service is to mark your satisfaction and recommendation to others, as you might on Twitter and Facebook, which are integrated to the extent that they allow you to see which of your friends are also using the service. And with only 100 stamps each, friends are limited in their ability to inundate you to the point where you don’t know who to listen to, especially if everyone you follow is a friend of equal regard.

Now comes Eight Spots, a more advanced service that builds a “taste profile” crafted from your personal interests and those of people similar to you. Users start off by identifying their go-to eateries and bars in the cities they already know. The more places selected, the more accurate this app will be. Next, it’s time to pick the Facebook friends you trust the most when it comes to recommendations. Thus, one can filter out the opinions of Facebook friends they don’t really want to hear from. Once the system has compared your tastes to those of your friends and other users, suggestions will be made for you in each of a small handful of five to eight categories for your target city.

Choice is where the true beauty of Eight Spots shines through. Research on choice has significantly altered the way products are marketed these days, as found through a study in which professor and author Sheena Iyengar and her team displayed a brand of jam in a market in one of two ways. At one point, a total of 24 flavors could be seen in the aisle, while customers only saw six in the other condition. Unsurprisingly, 60-percent of shoppers were drawn to the 24 jam display, whereas only 40-percent stopped at the smaller assortment. However, when it came time to buying, 30-percent of jam samplers in the small assortment condition took a jar home. Only 3-percent did so having seen 24 flavors. What does this teach us? It says that there is great value in limiting consumer choice. People will ultimately be happier with their decision and regret that the opportunity costs less when given a relatively small range of choices. Eight Spots promises not to provide you with hundreds of choices based on the averaged opinion of herds of people.

Perhaps the most effective food recommendation app to be, Eight Spots should be feared by its competitors.  Soon enough, when you get off a plane in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Berlin, or Paris and you’re hungry for real food, don’t waste any time. Just roll on in like you own the place with the Eight Spots app.

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