Online Reputation Management for Restaurants is a process by which restaurants can monitor, influence and improve feedback and reviews that customers leave. The internet has changed the way commerce works in many ways. Most importantly, it has changed the dynamic of information between customer and service provider.
Previously, the flow of information was one way; the service provider would advertise and provide information about their business. Unfortunately, the consumer had no equally powerful means of providing feedback. There was the old adage stating that a dissatisfied customer telling up to seven people. That was about as large scale as the feedback could get, there was no large scale, trusted, platform for doing so.
The Internet Changed All That
Ebay was the first company that made leaving feedback for sellers commonplace. Now it has grown to cover almost any kind of good or service that can be purchased, and crucially, researched, over the internet.
For consumer services it has grown to become an industry in its own right; for such things as financial services, home improvement providers or car sales it has become an integral part of the business model.
Nowhere has Online Feedback Become More Important Than with the Restaurant Industry.
Customers are now able to provide feedback about the restaurants they visit with the click of a button. It has become very common for people to leave feedback about their dining experiences. Restaurants owners need to monitor these reviews and respond quickly. Never has it been more important to restaurants to use form of online reputation management.
The impact it has on the core metrics of the restaurant industry – especially revenues per cover sold. This cannot be underestimated, and neither can the speed with which these issues are growing.
For restaurants, the link between tables booked and the online reputation of that venue is now proven beyond any doubt...
The Importance Of The Online Reputation Management For Restaurants
It is entirely unsurprising that the internet has revolutionized the restaurant and hospitality industry. It is worth quantifying just how much it has changed. Drilling down into the particular ways that customers research and book restaurants, and where online reputation management feeds into that.
Some restaurant owners still believe you can continue on by just offering what you offer and not worry themselves about what customers are saying about them online. These restaurant owners are not only wrong – but they are putting their restaurant at risk.
The most important thing to understand is that more and more restaurant customers are using the internet to book restaurants; either directly with the restaurant or through a third party affiliates.
Going further, bookings through mobile devices – such as iPhones and Web-enabled Android smartphones are seeing a growth rate of up to 260% over the same period according to LiveBookings.
The Reason Your Restaurant Must Manage Its Online Reputation is Relatively Clear
According to the online review site Finances Online, 40% of consumers expect to be able to book a restaurant table directly from a website. Moreover, 14% of online bookings were taken outside of the opening hours of the venue, and 44% were taken during peak service hours when staff are potentially too busy to take bookings.
Aside from the conclusion that not accepting online bookings is very damaging to a business it makes sense to examine ways to maximize them.
With these statistics in mind, you should understand what is said about your restaurant online can mean the difference between success and failure.
The secret to growing your business and increasing the number of new and return customers can be found with the way you approach your restaurant's online presence. Most importantly though, your online presence is not just about launching a website, advertising it a bit and then leaving it to take bookings; your online repuation needs careful management as well.
Key Review Sites
In general, there is no one site that can be targeted with an online reputation management strategy for restaurants. Since there is a huge diversity of websites available that offer review and feedback facilities, if not outright booking facilities for restaurants.
Nonetheless, the top 10 online review sites have the most sway, especially in the restaurant industry. Vendasta put together a report that provides a good picture of what to expect on other sites.
TripAdvisor.com is the largest site in the wider leisure and travel industry, and has comfortably the highest profile, receiving over 60 million individual visitors a month, according to their own statistics.
Although TripAdvisor is most associated with the hotel industry, it also offers its review facilities for restaurants as well making it by far and away the most influential. It is almost always the first site that people consult primarily due to its search rankings. Indeed, many booking sites carry links through to the TripAdvisor page of individual restaurants in order to help the customer do that.
Be Aware That There Are Some Issues With Online Review Sites
However, listings on online reviews sites are not without problems; there have been well publicized accusations of false reviews being posted on the website. Both by people trying to raise the perception of their own restaurant, and by those trying to subdue the image of rivals. Because of this, the reputation of TripAdvisor has become slightly dented, but it still retains enormous power.
There are a variety of other websites in the industry, particularly Yelp, Google My Business, TripAdvisor and other localized sites such as Foursquare. The precise review facilities that they offer vary; some only allow customers to review, on others anybody can leave a review.
These are among the most respected sites and they need to be targeted for online reputation management for restaurants as well. Why? Because these sites get millions of page views a month, and negative feedback can be enormously damaging.
Social Media's Role in Your Restaurants Reputation Management
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are also exponentially growing in importance in terms of restaurant reputation management. People regularly post location based updates that other people can comment upon, and others can view. For this reason, it is vital that you remain aware of what is being said, and engaging with your customer feedback in a positive way. Consider these statistics:
Other types of review site come from local authorities, and relate to food and hygiene. It is an increasingly common practice for hygiene ratings to be given to all food and beverage outlets. They are then published on a website. A low rating on one of these sites can naturally be disastrous for trade as well.
Why Does Online Reputation Management For Restaurants Matter?
You might think that Online Reputation Management for restaurants isn’t really all that important. Even if you were to get a bit of bad feedback about your restaurant online, you could either let it blow over. Or if you needed to you could try and redress the balance with some discounts and marketing activity, right?
The Statistics Speak Loud and Clear to the Importance of Online Reputation Management for Restaurants
The first thing to note is that the impact of reviews on restaurant bookings. Another consideration is their relation to online reputation has been empirically tested and proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Economists from the University of California, Berkeley examined the impact upon bookings of 300 restaurants from San Francisco rated on the Yelp feedback site, using its five star rating tools. The work found that a half star difference could have a dramatic impact upon the restaurants business; moving from 3 star feedback to 3.5 star feedback improved the odds of being booked solid at peak times from 13% to 34%; moving from 3.5 stars to 4 star feedback increased the likelihood of being booked out at peak times by a further 19%.
There is further supporting evidence. Food Horizons note that 80% of potential diners who research a restaurant online will then expect to be able to book online, straight after reading the reviews and feedback.
Moreover, the work at Berekely demonstrated that online feedback had far more impact than any adjustments to prices, special offers, customer service, ingredients or menus. Particularly where there was little other information available online.
In short, online reputations couldn’t be more important to the viability of a restaurant.
Essentially, nothing that you could do for your restaurant, either physically or to the way that you offer service – will have more financial impact than managing the image that you project to people online.
Best Practices For Online Reputation Management For Restaurants
There are a number of ways that you can go about managing your restaurant's online reputation but there are a three golden rules that should be adhered to at all times:
3 Golden Rules to Adhere When Managing Your Restaurant's Online Reputation
- Never ignore negative feedback.
You can’t be perfect all the time. That being the case, you need to have a clear process in place for when people leave a negative review about your restaurant. Engaging the complaint in a clear, polite and positive fashion is critical. Also, it creates a much more favorable impression with potential customers than simply doing nothing. Never react in an aggressive or impolite manner, even if you feel the complaint or poor rating is unwarranted.
- Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews.
The simple fact is that customers are up to seven times more likely to leave a review or share their opinion if they have had a negative experience. So you need to be proactive in getting people to leave positive recommendations; if your customers say something nice to you then ask them to put it online. Have a system in place that encourages satisfied customers to leave positive feedback after they dine with you.
- Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to try and game the system.
Earlier in the paper, it was noted that several restaurants have tried posting false reviews on websites like TripAdvisor. There is now a growing list of restaurants that have been blacklisted from online booking systems for such activities. In addition, there are a variety of shady companies around offering to ‘swamp’ or otherwise defray negative remarks about companies on the internet, using underhanded techniques. Don’t be tempted, you will be found out.
Can You Do Online Reputation Management for Restaurants Yourself?
In theory there is nothing to stop you trying to manage your online reputation yourself; you can register as a restaurant proprietor on most restaurant review sites, and address the customer interactions yourself.
Similarly, you can manage your presence on Facebook and Twitter. However, you should probably consider the following questions before you decide to do that:
- Have you really got the time?
Running a restaurant is hard enough work as it is, and a realistic strategy for ORM could involve two to three hours a day. When you consider the amount of websites and social media channels involved, can you keep up with it all?
- Do you know all of the channels that you need to manage?
The scale of the restaurant industry means that there are literally thousands of sites online, and many new incarnations being created every week. Do you have the knowledge to find them, and to track changes in the online industry?
- Do you really know what to say and do for the best effect?
There is an art to how to deal with people's feedback online. Also, there are a range of techniques that can be deployed. Do you know what they are, or have the inclination to learn about them? How expensive and time consuming would it be to train your staff to do it?
Why You Probably Shouldn't Manage Your Restaurant Online Reputation
You probably wouldn’t attempt to do your own accounting, or fit the kitchen to your restaurant by yourself; you would call upon the services of a professional. Online Reputation Management for Restaurants is just like any other technical service, it is far better carried out by a seasoned professional.
Given the importance of ORM to your restaurant, can you really afford to do this in-house? You should not look at ORM as an expense to be borne. Instead, view it as an investment in the long term vitality and growth of your business. This will have a positive impact on both the number of bookings you receive, and the rates that you can charge.
Like all major investments in your restaurant, you need to get the best professionals in. Partnering with an established, successful and ethical ORM company will pay huge dividends over time.
The effects may not be instantaneous, but the long term return on your investment will far outstrip any physical upgrades that you can make to your restaurant. Engaging a professional reputation management firm will allow you to achieve a management strategy. Also, it'll be considerably less expense and time investment than training your staff to do it.
The final thing to consider is the online reputation management industry is growing very rapidly, and the amount of restaurant owners investing in ORM services is rocketing.
Can you afford to be left behind?
Marketing Disty is a digital marketing and online reputation management agency with headquarters in Austin,TX with an outstanding track record for providing Online Reputation Management for Restaurants since 2016.
We provide Online Reputation Management software and tools for restaurants to monitor, influence and improve feedback and reviews that customers leave.
Our #1 goal is to be the best at providing online reputation management for restaurant owner's around the world.