Profiling your taste

Heston BlumenthalI’m no foodie, but if I did want to eat at Heston Blumenthal’s soon-to-reopen Fat Duck restaurant, it’d take more than just picking up the phone. He’s apparently been vetting (potential) customers for years by Googling them.

I find this interesting on two fronts: the building of a profiling dossier of patrons; and, profiling in the wider context and where that will lead us in everyday businesses.

There’s some very deliberate psychology afoot here. Heston has taken advice from the mind specialist extraordinaire, @DerrenBrown to help “find out things about people without them being too aware.”

He also consulted psychologists, font experts and artists. All this understanding appears in order to compile a dossier of his patrons. The obvious question is whether that profiling is to better serve their taste, or to find those that match the taste of his restaurant? With over 30,000 calls a day for bookings, I strongly suspect it’s the latter as he has the luxury of not needing to pander to the keyboard warriors on Trip Advisor.

Either way if Derren Brown is involved, even the most staunch brussel sprout hater will be begging for more.

Restaurant businesses Google a booking’s name to decide if they’re worthy of the establishment. They’ll turn away bookings if they don’t like what they find, or perhaps didn’t find. Our digital footprints are there for public consumption. This isn’t new but it does indicate how we are being judged today.

It’s the digital equivalent of a tattoo. Have you got a tattoo or are you ‘clean’. If you have then it leads to many follow up questions: how many, what are they, where are they, how stylish, what do they represent, what does it say about you? We’re immediately forming subconscious opinions based on this information (volunteered by you or not).

So too of your digital life.

You may not have much of a digital profile which may be viewed as a good thing. More likely, you do have, and again, once you show information it obviously leads to more subconscious opinions.

Now that it’s so easy to perform our own due diligence, this forming of opinions goes much further than high-end restaurant bookings. The salesperson seeking an appointment. The candidate seeking an interview. The interviewer seeking to woo a high-functioning candidate. The prospective funder for your new business venture. And so on.

Congrats to the staggeringly successful Mr Blumenthal who clearly pushes the boundaries in his industry. I think he’s going deeper here than just impeding the naysayers’ entry. He’s making great efforts to create a story of “childhood feelings of adventure, discovery and curiosity,” and good on him for ensuring he best matches patrons to that experience.

Image credit: @KateWickers

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