A Better Restaurant and Entertainment Guide

I think I work too much, or something, because it seems most of my ideas originate from needing to be able to orchestrate something quickly and last minute. Or, I’m just a big procrastinator.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really disappointed with the current restaurant and entertainment guides out there. They just haven’t evolved from a basic database of items with attributes. To really make a great Yahoo! Local or better Citysearch, you have to move away from what fields go in the database tables and start thinking about the user experience first.
Here’s an example use case that illustrates the struggle one has with existing guides (try to go online and solve this riddle quickly):
You have a friend that just called you up and said they’re in town for business and would like to get together for dinner. They’re a close friend and someone you’d like to entertain and show a good time in your city, of which they’ve never been to and are really excited to see. Oh, and they’ve only got a couple of days and one evening with you.
Now, let’s say you want to pick out a restaurant that highlights something unique about your city or has some form of entertainment. How do you find that in a list of cuisines or restaurants by neighborhood?!
Bring on the wizards! The design needs to include a wizard type questionnaire, something that guides you through options and then returns a succinct list of places that match your criteria. Oh, and it should be accessible from your computer or mobile phone. It could start out with basic options (like the Limbo iPhone app): Dining, Event, Shopping, Outdoor Activity, and Indoor Activity. From here, you’d drill down into more specificity that would ultimately bring back the short list of places.
Returning to the use case, we’d start by selecting Dining. From there, it might offer the next options such as: Intimate, Lively, Entertaining, Quick, and Culinary Delight. Let’s say you want to have it be entertaining. The next menu may ask: Live Music, Dancing, Theatre, and Participatory. From here, if you choose participatory it may include a place that has belly dancing, or a restaurant with a comedy show where you become part of the act. Ultimately restaurants could be listed under multiple options if appropriate.
Now, you have some great options, but which one do you go with? At this point, if it’s done right you’ve made it pretty easy, but I’d take it a step further. Let’s integrate with OpenTable and have location based service utilized. Meaning, tell me what has a table for when I can make it and is closest to my friend’s hotel!
To take it just a bit further, let’s say you chose Intimate. The next screen would then ask: black tie, sport coat, nice shirt, outerwear, T-shirt, no shirt. I’m sure your imagination can plug in different restaurants that fit the different attire. Speaking of attire, what a great way to start if the person doesn’t have anything in mind!
I’d include a “no idea” start button that skipped the first menu of Dining, Shopping, Events, etc. and just ask a simple question. What will you be wearing? Then offer the same menu. An example break down for T-shirt might bring up bowling. It would also need to specify when at the end to determine whether to include items with advance purchase requirements.
If anyone wants to give me the budget to put this together, I’d love to!

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