Love them or hate them online reviews for restaurants and other hospitality venues are becoming increasingly important for business success. They are so important in fact that two Berkeley professors completed a study into how an increase in online reputation impacted sales. Their study found that an extra half stars rating caused bookings for 7pm sittings to sell out on 49% of the evenings it was open for business up from 30%. That provides us proof if proof were needed that the online reputation of a restaurant is its most valuable commodity. A restaurants online reputation will generally be a fair reflection on the product including food, service ambience etc however there are ways to improve restaurant ratings without changing anything else and it requires a little bit of smart thinking.
Quantity first, Quality after
Start by getting as many independent reviews as possible – good, bad and indifferent. While good reviews are good because they increase your rating, bad reviews are also useful because they give you honest independent feedback on your product. As the saying goes if someone says something, many more are thinking the same thing. Get feedback, identify weaknesses then fix them and move on.
Ask happy customers
They are easy to identify – they love your food and service and will happily tell you after they have finished. These are the people you want writing about you online. If you think you have a happy customer give them some chocolate and a card with subtle directions to leave a review online with their post dinner coffee or later at home.
Loyal customers are your biggest advocates
Do you know who they are and how often they come into your restaurant? Tapping into your loyal customer base is a sure fire way to get better quality reviews online. Email them, contact them on facebook and Twitter and provide a link to review you online. There are many ways to identify loyal customers including loyalty schemes, reservations history and WiFi Intelligence among others. Ideally you will have some kind of online record or database that you can easily access and use.
Be Prepared – Keep a list of helpers
It is possible you will get some bad reviews and while too many bad reviews means you are doing something wrong, occasional bad reviews can have a temporary negative effect. Be ready for bad reviews by keeping a list of go to people to post positive reviews so at least the negative review will not be the first thing potential customers see. We are not talking about posting fake reviews – No No, that would not be cool. However friends and family are customers in one way or another as in they have more than likely have eaten in your restaurant at some point. They are as entitled to their opinion just as much as complete strangers. Simple, positive and not over the top reviews posted at important times will keep your march up the ratings on track.
Use your WiFi service to get great reviews
Free WiFi for customers is an essential offering in the hospitality industry for both your regulars and tourists alike. Most professional WiFi services will give you the ability to send users to a website that you choose when they logon. You can simply send all users to the specific place where they can leave a review for your restaurant thereby increasing the possibility of reviews. Its is easy to change the review site if you need to boost numbers elsewhere or send them somewhere else completely if you are having a less than perfect night.
Improve restaurant ratings
Getting more and better online ratings is a key performance indicator (KPI) for your restaurant and one that will continue to grow in importance. Use every available tool and method to improve restaurant ratings across a range of review sites and watch your booking list grow.