One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from friends and colleagues once we tell them about our work in Wanderbites is, “Does that mean you get to eat free food all the time?” Well, sometimes. And by sometimes, we mean 1 out of 10 times. If you are one of the restaurants or cafes who have shot us an e-mail to invite us to your place, let us start by saying that we appreciate the invitation, but most of times we prefer to pay for our own food. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. To stick true to our manifesto
Manifesto No. 2: Having a personal, unique voice is of the utmost importance. To do that, ever since Wanderbites started in 2009, we try to be as independent as much as we can. We want to be accountable to our readers by stating our truthful opinion, both the positives and what can be improved. That freedom comes by paying for our own food.
2. To continue the legacy
In respect to other bloggers who preceded and inspired us—JenzCorner, Aris Munandar, Inijie, and many more—we want to continue their path of being as objective as possible. Many of them started blogging three to five years before us, and we believe in their good values. Objectivity is a legacy worth passing on.
3. To be able to write an honest review
For us, an honest review means telling the story of what we experience specifically at the time of our visit. When we don’t pay for our own food, there is a higher chance of us becoming biased. We’re only humans after all. Having said that, we believe we can minimize this as much as possible.
4. To make sure the restaurant gets a beneficial feedback
Which one is more important for you? A buttered-up review that makes you feel good, but you don’t grow. Or an open review with constructive criticism, so you know where you missed out. We all know we can get too close to our business / our baby that we unconsciously turn a blind eye to mistakes and errors.
Writing a review is more than just building a relationship with our readers. It’s also about giving a constructive criticism to the restaurant or cafe. Dear restaurant owners, when you invite your friends and family, it’s natural for them to want to be proud of you and compliment your place. But the more important part is when a customer comes and he or she cares enough to tell you directly what can be improved. You can then fix the problem before it snowballs into something bigger.
5. To have an authentic voice
In a world where there is an endless stream of information and so much noise, a good, honest content shall prevail. Despite the allure of creating quantity over quality, we want to stick to our guns: Talk in a different, real, and authentic voice. We trust that our readers, you, and whoever is reading this will appreciate that. Think of it as an investment in the long run.
And when those five reasons are still not good enough, let us give you another one,
6. If every review is paid, then what’s the point of it?
I know all of these beg the question, “Then what happens when family or a close friend invites you to their new restaurant?” In a couple of inevitable cases like this, I try to come whenever time permits. Out of tens of menus available in a restaurant, there must be something worth talking about—the stand-outs, the signature dishes. We’ll talk about those first. If there’s anything that can be improved, of course it’s easier to talk about it directly, as the person inviting you is most likely present anyway. They then have the opportunity to take care of the matter, so hopefully it won’t be an issue for anybody else. When that mistake is nothing major, we’ll upload the article. However, when it’s major, might as well skip writing about it altogether or do a second visit to be sure.
In the spirit of friendship, if you don’t feel right about making us pay for our own food, here’s a scenario that has worked well before while we can still sleep soundly at night knowing that we are doing point 1-5 above: a discount, a voucher, or a cash card for the next visit. That way, what we write is still exclusive to that one day experience and untainted.
We hope this article sums up the reasons why we prefer to pay for our own food. Though the stack of restaurant bills does not make our ATM card too happy, it’s the price we’re willing to pay to generate a solid quality content. At this time and age, it’s hard to find people who actually stand up for something they believe for, and fingers crossed we don’t fall into that same trap. We hope that all your support—by reading and sharing our content that speaks to you—can motivate us to stay authentic and true to who we are.