Do you manage a restaurant, bar, or food truck? If that’s a yes, then you know about the importance of online reviews. You know that more reviews bring in more customers. And with hundreds of sites publishing reviews, it’s critical to know where to focus and what to do when you find that your establishment has been “reviewed.”
Reviews drive revenue.
Online reviews help drive folks to your door, but also help bring folks to your website. Folks are also using online reviews when they are considering using a delivery service like Doordash, GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates, Delivery.com, and even Uber Eats.
People who eat and drink local also “consume” local reviews, with 89% read the responses. Need more proof?
- Consumers read 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
- 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks
- 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
- 80% of 18-34 year olds have written online reviews
- 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
3 Steps to Effective Online Review Monitoring
- Set up a business account on each of the following top hospitality reviews sites
Why? You need a business account so you can directly review and respond.
- Make sure your business information is up to date
Why? Customers can get confused if they see different hours/addresses on various sites, and it will help search engines correctly identify your business as well.
- Ask your customers for reviews on a regular basis
Why? 40% of consumers only trust reviews written in the past few weeks and most people value recent reviews over old ones. A higher review volume means both search engines and customers trust you more.
Critical Review Management Process
You wouldn’t wait days if a customer at your restaurant or bar offered a compliment or complaint — neither should you for an online review:
- Review management is a continuous process that has to be supported by every shift, every day of the year.
Why? There are critical operational details that have to be closed out at the end of each shift – that includes any reviews that have come in.
- Empower staff and managers to read, review and respond before closing out the shift.
Why? You already allow them to speak to customers in the store, there isn’t any reason they can’t communicate with the same professionalism online – 89% of folks reading reviews also read responses.
- Develop a customer care game plan including a variety of messaging and service recovery responses.
Why? When face-to-face you may use a very similar script but with the ubiquity of online reviews you need to change it up and keep it fresh.
- Extend your service recovery to online reviews. You are already trying to recover customers who identify concerns while still at your facility – extend that to online reviews.
Why? Service recovery has been shown to be effective by any medium including through messaging systems and reviews.
Why are these the top review sites for restaurants?
It’s important to get your customer reviews on restaurant review sites that prospective guests know about and visit. The more often a potential guest visits a restaurant review site, the more likely they are to read and post reviews there. Higher web traffic suggests that the site has lots of users. And this suggests that it would be quick and easy to leave a review—having no need to go through a lengthy registration process.
What review sites should you be monitoring if you’re a restaurateur, caterer, food truck operator or bar owner?
Whenever customers are looking for any information online, Google has become the go-to friend. Whether they’re searching for a Thai restaurant, food trends or just the “the best food near me” the easiest thing to do is to just ‘google it’. Google reviews show up on Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) but also within Google Maps and other Google sites.
Google also adds extra value like telling consumers when a place is most busy and links bars and restaurants to thousands of pictures taken by folks from all over the world. If you are selling food anywhere on Earth, you need to pay attention to Google reviews.
OpenTable is a site that lets consumers make online reservations, read restaurant reviews from diners, and earn points towards free meals. If you are using OpenTable you need to pay attention to what folks are saying here. Worried about your competitors? OpenTable is also a great place to see what consumers are saying about nearby properties, or just other establishments offering similar food, etc.
A global food review site with over a million restaurants reviewed, Zomato has recently purchased Urbanspoon. Zomato now allows folks to now find restaurant reviews but also to order food. Few sites have such a larger international following. We recommend restaurants track their establishment on Zomato for since both local fans and international travels are looking here before they dine in or out.
As the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, plays a huge role in where people decide to dine out: every month, 415 million customers look through the site’s 535 million reviews of 7 million restaurants. Over 200 new contributions are posted every hour (comScore, TripAdvisor). No wonder it’s a very critical portal for those in the restaurant business. Your team needs to be aware of what is being said on TripAdvisor about your establishment and nearby competitors in your neighborhood.
Every food business today needs to be on Instagram as more and more people share “stories” about food, where they eat, who they are dining with, or just a selfie next to their favorite food truck. When folks are tagging your account in their posts, that’s an open invitation to interact with them and their friends. Running a special event or open during one? Make sure you are tracking popular hashtags as well. Owned by Facebook.
Even though some people have left Facebook and others are using it less often (Hello Instagram!) – Facebook still has over 1 billion active monthly users. If you have an active Facebook page, you can make the most of the “Review tab” to get customer feedback from your Facebook fans. Simply add this tab to the list of your visible tabs and encourage customers to provide their feedback. Customers can also message your business directly through Facebook.
A Birdeye employee on a recent trip to Paris messaged a restaurant for reservations. He ended up “talking” with the chef, got advice on other places to dine, and of course got a great reservation. Your property is probably on Facebook – you need to make sure your team is paying attention.
How can you get new (and fresh reviews) on top restaurant and bar sites?
There are several ways to collect more reviews from your customers, including using QR codes in store. However, the most effective way to boost review volume is by automating the process with online review monitoring software that lets you ask every customer for a review and alerts you whenever you receive a new review.