Online reviews influence people’s dining decisions. In fact, according to a report by the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 National Household Survey, at least 34 percent of diners say that the information they find on online review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google (Google Maps/Google Search), OpenTable, and Urbanspoon (among others) is likely to factor into their decision on where to eat.
In short: online reviews can make or break your restaurant.
With this in mind, how do you ensure that reviews of your restaurant are attracting – instead of driving away – potential diners? The National Restaurant Association (NRA) answers this and other pressing questions in their new report, “Online Reviews: the New Word of Mouth”.
How can I optimize my presence on online review sites?
The NRA suggests that you get your restaurant listed, claim your business page, and check to see if all the facts and information posted about your restaurant are correct and up-to-date. It’s also useful to add to your page more information and services about your restaurant – for example, your Facebook and Twitter pages, or your type of cuisine and menu items. (Don’t forget to include photos!) Says Brandi Willard, director of communications at Urbanspoon: “The more information a restaurant has, the better the chance the establishment will be selected.”
Should I encourage customer reviews?
Sure, but never pay for a review. Instead, find creative ways to get happy customers to give your restaurant positive reviews and high ratings on any of today’s many review sites. You can, for example, create your own custom comment card, send friendly E-mail reminders, or work with widgets that are readily made available by sites like Yelp, Urbanspoon, and TripAdvisor.
The important thing, NRA says, is to play by the rules. “You don’t want to game the system,” added Lori Randall Stradtman, author of Online Reputation Management for Dummies. “If you’re caught, that’s terrible for your reputation.”
How can I brace myself for negativity?
Even the most popular and highly-rated restaurants receive negative reviews. That’s just the way it is: you can’t please everybody. What’s critical is that you don’t lose sight of the kind of experience you’re creating for customers and diners. Take their feedback to heart and do what you can to make their experience better next time.
Says Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman: “If day in and day out you’re providing great value, great service, the reviews are going to reflect that. One negative review doesn’t count for everything. It’s not the end of the world.”
How can I monitor my reputation and reviews?
Monitoring restaurant reviews can be tricky, especially for restaurateurs who don’t necessarily have the time to manually check review sites every single day. You can sign up for review alerts and notifications individually, on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, but if you’re monitoring other review sites as well, you might consider enrolling with a monitoring service. Here at ReviewTrackers, we work with the restaurant industry in order to provide the tools and technology you need to effectively monitor and manage your reviews and reputation.