What Hospitality Businesses Need To Know About Online Reviews

Today, consumers hold more power than ever – and aren’t shy about making their opinions known.

Written by
Rachel Yeo
August 16, 2022

If you own a hospitality business such as a restaurant, cafe or pub, then you’d be no stranger to online reviews. 

These can be found on your Facebook business page, Google My Business profile, Yelp page or TripAdvisor page. The amount of positive and negative reviews ultimately affect your business’ star rating that appears on these platforms.

As a vast majority of consumers swayed by online reviews, you’ll want them to reflect your business in the best way possible. 

The Right Way To Encourage Reviews

To encourage reviews in general, it’s vital that you take the subtle route. Asking customers for reviews can dampen their experience and deter them from doing so.

Instead, you can make your online presence known to customers on your premises. We suggest including logos and stickers of review sites in your restaurant – whether it be at the entrance of your restaurant or at the cashier’s counter. Keeping these at eye-level is ideal in order to have them noticed.

However, if you receive especially glowing feedback from a customer as they’re dining in – you can always mention that posting a quick review would greatly help out your business. As shown in a 2018 consumer survey by BrightLocal, 70% of consumers that have been asked to leave reviews went on to do so. 

Preventing Negative Reviews

As the same BrightLocal study reveals, 68% of consumers are more likely to patronise local businesses upon reading positive reviews – as they tend to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

It goes without saying, but the best way to attract positive reviews is to keep your business running smoothly and to have your customers leaving satisfied. This may call for in-store approaches such as checking in with your customers to see if they’re enjoying their meal.

If it hasn’t lived up to their expectations, offer to remedy your mistakes or provide a free dessert or discount off their total bill. In showing that you care about delivering exceptional service, you can change customers’ perceptions about your business – making them less likely to take to the Internet to complain about your business.

Management Of Online Reviews

Regardless of whether they are good or bad, online reviews shouldn’t be left to collect dust. A successful business is one that addresses its reviews – and more importantly, its issues –no matter how harsh or unfair the review might be.

When it comes to responding to positive reviews, a quick thank you message suffices. On the other hand, negative reviews deserve just as much attention. Unhappy customers should never be ignored. In most cases, they just want to be heard.

As such, ensure that the person who is responding to your online reviews has:

  • A professional yet friendly outlook – reflected in their writing style.
  • Authority in your restaurant – ideally, someone with a managerial position.
  • The ability to settle complaints – for instance, by imploring the customer to email the business for further discussions.

Overall, a strong response is one that acknowledges the customer’s complaint, accepts accountability and takes on feedback. For example, a model response would be:

“Hi [name of customer], we are sorry to hear that your experience at our restaurant was not up to par. We appreciate your feedback and will take it into consideration. To help you get to the bottom of this, you are most welcome to contact our team on [email address]. In the meantime, enjoy your week!”

In just a few sentences, you’ve effectively managed a negative review while showing the public that you value improving your customer service.

Conversely, if you believe you are dealing with a fake review, you can choose to report it on the relevant platform.

To Conclude

With online reviews influencing customer decisions, it’s best to keep on top of them as frequently as you can. While you cannot inherently control customers’ reviews, you can control the manner in which you respond to them and the calibre of service you provide.

Constructive criticism is all part of the process of operating a restaurant – and embracing it can strengthen customer relationships even further.

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