When it comes to online reviews, foodservice operations often seem to be elbowing their way to a more prominent place at the table. As consumers feast on restaurant review sites, online reputation management is placed high on the menu of must-dos.
According to survey data from the travel website TripAdvisor, diner decision-making is driven largely by online reviews. Ninety-four percent of U.S. survey participants cited online reviews as a determining factor in which restaurants they choose to visit.1 What’s more, 60% reported that online photos influence their dining decisions.1 And up to 79% of surveyed consumers in some global markets rely on their mobile devices to research restaurants on a regular basis.1
TripAdvisor reports that its app, which features more than 245,000 reservation-taking restaurants and over 65,000 establishments with food delivery, exceeds 450 million downloads globally from consumers who use their mobile devices for research.1
Given the online review feeding frenzy, it’s no wonder that 90% of restaurateurs surveyed intend to make developing their online presence and reputation over the next couple of years a top priority.1 Foodservice operators may want to leverage their websites, mobile apps and social media to step up their interactions and engagement with existing and potential guests, especially among the digitally-driven millennial dining market.
Google data shows that nearly 60% of millennials search for a restaurant within an hour of going out to eat, and within the last month, 40% of millennials have researched about their food while in the restaurant.2
Foodservice Consumers Go Ga-Ga for Google, Seek Help from Yelp
With over 24 million restaurant reviews since its inception, Yelp is one of the most popular review platforms in the industry.3 Michael Franks, owner of Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, California, attributes the success of his restaurant in part to the exposure it has received on Yelp. “It’s part of the way we do business now and you have to embrace it,” he explained. “It is a powerful tool for the customer. It will make you better and it will frustrate you.”3
Yelp is one of a power elite of online review platforms, which include TripAdvisor, Google and Facebook. According to ReviewTrackers, a platform for tracking online ratings and reviews, Google leads the pack. Before deciding on visiting a business, over 63% of surveyed consumers are likely to refer to reviews on Google, followed by Yelp (over 45%).3
While Google and Yelp are among the most high-profile review platforms, there is a feast of restaurant review sites for recommendation-hungry consumers to sample.
Alex Bates, guest services manager for the Ocean Prime restaurant chain, checks upwards of 200 review sites daily for feedback on all 14 locations.3 “We used to see them and not do anything about them, then we started looking for trends,” said Heather Buck, the chain’s director of training and guest services, “and finally a few years ago we started monitoring and responding to every one.”3
In addition to manually checking sites, restaurant operators have a variety of options for monitoring online reviews. Yelp, TripAdvisor and others offer free instant email notifications whenever a review is posted. Google Alerts is another way to keep track of reviews and other feedback. Simply go to www.google.com/alerts and create an alert about any restaurant. Google will email you whenever it finds a match. There are also many paid services which provide deeper and more comprehensive monitoring, including Heartbeat, Main Street Hub and Sprout Social.
To help ensure reviews of your foodservice operation are positive, the right product selection and culinary ingenuity are critical. Reach out below to learn how Mondelēz International can provide the trusted brand ingredients and menu innovation expertise to help turn reviews into raves.