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The voice of the customer has spoken, providing restaurateurs and foodservice executives insights on what diners really want.


Restaurant reservations and reviews platform OpenTable recently released the results of its “Technology and Dining Out” research survey, which takes into account the responses of over 6,000 OpenTable users in the US. Here are some highlights:


Before the meal 

  • Diners love online reviews written by other diners. In fact, 25 percent more people turn to consumer reviews – on community-based sites like OpenTable, Yelp, and TripAdvisor – than those who rely on reviews by professional food critics. Overall, 60 percent say they would read diners’ reviews before going out for a meal – a habit that takes precedence over getting directions to a restaurant, or looking at food photos. (See also: Online Reviews: The New Standard for Customer Feedback.) “While this doesn’t herald the death of the restaurant critic,” OpenTable says, “it does mean you should be more aware of diner reviews than ever. Listen to all of them. Respond to the good as well as the bad. Look for patterns in the (customer) feedback and adjust your operations accordingly.”
  • If you’re managing a restaurant, you have to have your menus available online. As much as 86 percent of diners check out menus before dining out.
  • Photos matter, too. According to OpenTable, almost 60 percent of respondents “always or frequently” check out pictures of their dining destination before they go. 

During the meal 

  • If the dining environment is more casual than formal, diners are more likely to use their phones during the meal. According to the survey, 63 percent “rarely or never” take their phones out in fine dining restaurants, while only 35 percent follow the no-phones etiquette at casual restaurants.
  • The customers who use their phones do so to leverage in-meal technologies and further enrich their dining experiences. (It’s not just to check their E-mails or go on Facebook.) 1 in 4 “always or frequently” use their phones to research online and decide what to order, while as much as 23 percent use their phones to take photos of what they’re eating.

After the meal 

  • Customers still find value in loyalty programs, with 18 percent of diners routinely interacting with such programs using technology.
  • Individual restaurant apps, meanwhile, probably are not the most effective tools, with only 6 percent of diners saying they are “very likely” to download the app of a restaurant location or restaurant group.
  • Diners also like to share their opinions after a restaurant experience. According to the OpenTable survey, about 1 in 8 will post a restaurant review after their meal. That’s 43 percent higher than the US average. Suggests OpenTable: “Given the potential influence, it’s worth encouraging your guests to review their good experiences and let you know directly if things can be improved.”

The information from OpenTable’s survey demonstrates the many ways food interacts with technology. “Dining out, like virtually every area of life, has been transformed by technology,” says Leela Srinivasan, OpenTable’s VP of Restaurant and Product Marketing. “But in an industry in which hospitality is paramount it’s important to strike the right balance for your restaurant concept.”

Looking to manage the voice of the customer and boost the reputation and marketing performance of your restaurant? Check out “The Ultimate Guide: Restaurant Reviews and Ratings Sites Your Business Should Know About” to get started.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.


  1. Dmitrii Anastas

    So, the secret is to allow and encourage the usage of smartphones?! Nice, will consider this in the future 🙂 Seriously, this is all nice to know.

  2. Patrick R

    Photos can tell you everything, indeed. You can check the overall atmosphere of the restaurant, just from a single photo.

  3. Nicholas Oli

    If you are spending time online on your smartphone during a night at the restaurant, you already have failed in enjoyment. Why to go out for dinner if you are going to be on the phone the entire evening. People like that will not provide the true side of a review as they will miss all the good stuff during the evening. Turn off the phones and enjoy life.

  4. Jacob B.

    What happened with the good old: “Let’s go to that new restaurant?”

  5. Amanda Eicher

    Before going to a restaurant I usually look up reviews and maybe try to find an online menu. I feel as though I trust reviews that have an even tone. I tend to disregard negative reviews that just seem to be raving because I feel like people may blow situations out of proportion. I also look for informative positive reviews not just generic “loved this place, great food and service”