In an age when diners don’t just dine – they write food and restaurant reviews, too – it’s critical for restaurateurs and food and beverage business owners to stay on top of what their customers are saying (and where they’re saying it).
We say “critical” because online reviews are more important than ever: according to a recent study by economists from Berkeley, a half-star improvement in online ratings and reviews can make a restaurant 30 to 49 percent more likely to be fully booked during peak hours.
(Running a law firm or legal services company? Don’t forget to check out our list of lawyer review sites that you should keep an eye on.)
That’s why we here at Review Trackers came up with this list of food and restaurant review sites your business should know about. Hopefully, you’ll get to spend some time claiming your listings or business pages on these restaurant review sites; without ownership of this online space – and without regular online review monitoring – you’ll never find out who’s talking about you!
Everyone knows about Yelp. Founded in October 2004 in San Francisco, California, the popular ratings and review site has since grown to attract over 71 million monthly unique visitors, each of whom can read any of Yelp’s 30 million local reviews. The businesses listed here vary and belong to a wide range of categories, but particular emphasis is given by Yelp to restaurants, food, nightlife, and bars.
Google+ Local (Google Places with Zagat)
Not too long ago, Google announced its new review and recommendation service: Google+ Local. The result of evolution from what was once called Google Places, Google+ Local provides a simple, social way of listing, discovering, and sharing local information. The service also integrates the signature 30-point scale of Zagat, one of the world’s most-trusted sources of review information about restaurants, nightspots, hotels, tourist attractions, and small businesses.
Another influential restaurant review website, OpenTable distinguishes itself from Yelp and Google+ Local by offering a system for finding restaurants, choosing a table, and booking via an online reservation system. OpenTable is currently used by over 350 million diners for listing information, reservation options, reviews, and recommendations on more than 25,000 restaurants all over the US as well as in countries like Austria, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, and the UK.
Founded in October 2006, Urbanspoon is one of the more popular restaurant review and recommendation services on the Web. It features food and restaurant reviews written by critics, food bloggers, and – because it’s a kind of restaurant social network – friends. (Urbanspoon friends, that is.)
Unlike Yelp, MenuPages doesn’t focus so much on reviewing a restaurant as finding one. The restaurant search site focuses on key markets: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Washington, and South Florida. It also features thousands of restaurant menus that are updated every month, plus user recommendations from other MenuPages users and diners.
A social search tool, deal site, online directory, and review website in one, Judy’s Book actually features information on businesses across multiple industries and categories – including food and dining. Founded in 2004, the site has since grown to collect 4.5 million reviews and over 11 million place and business listings in the US. (It’s also worth noting that 68 percent of its 450,000+ members are women – mostly moms.)
OpenTable UK (formerly Toptable)
Diners, restaurateurs, and businesses outside the US – particularly those in the UK as well as major cities in Europe – will likely have heard of Toptable before it was acquired in 2010 by OpenTable. As a result of this deal, the consumer brand name has been changed to OpenTable UK.
Owned by CityGrid Media (the same corporation that owns Urbanspoon), Citysearch serves as an online city guide designed to provide information, deals, ratings, and user reviews of businesses in the categories of restaurants, bars and clubs, spa and beauty, hotels, shopping, and more. One of the features that distinguish Citysearch from other review sites is the presence of expert “scouts”, who dish personal insights on local businesses and major markets every week.
Restaurantica is a rapidly growing community-driven restaurant and nightlife guide through which diners can post restaurant reviews, upload photos, discuss questions, find coupons, and even make reservations. The site was launched in 2003 and has since grown to become one of the largest of its kind in Canada.
TripAdvisor (For Restaurants)
TripAdvisor isn’t merely a travel and hotel review website; it also collects user-generated recommendations and reviews of restaurants in places all over the world. Like in other categories, TripAdvisor restaurant pages include rankings, ratings, reviews, and reservations; there are also options for users who want to sort their restaurant search by location, cuisine, price, and neighborhood.
A service for finding local businesses and services online, Yahoo! Local is the recommendation and review site of search engine Yahoo!. The site features the ability to sort results by distance, topic, and category, along with the cool feature of being able to see results on a map. Apart from food and restaurants, Yahoo! Local also covers apartments, banks, health and beauty, home and garden retailers, other serviced-based businesses, and events.
Monitor what customers are saying online and respond to reviews, comments, and questions nearly in real-time!