According to research from Livebookings, 48 per cent of diners said they would always check a venue’s reputation before making a booking, but only 20 per cent said they would ignore reviews and judge the restaurant based on its website and menu.
David Norris, chief operating officer for Livebookings, said it’s important for restaurateurs to manage their online customer reviews, which could be potentially damaging.
“In 2010 it’s very easy for anyone to write an opinion and it’s even easier for thousands of others to read that opinion,” he said.
“Restaurateurs can no longer dismiss the importance of the internet in shaping how their business is perceived by the general public. They must take note of the feedback they are receiving and where necessary, act on it.”
The news comes as online reputation management company KwikChex.com last week announced it was to launch a group defamation action against TripAdvisor, over allegedly unfair and false claims made by consumers or rival businesses on its site.
KwikChex said it would ask Tripadvisor to rectify the worst criticisms within seven days, and remove ‘false’ reviews within two weeks, or face a defamation suit.
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said that the organisation was taking steps to address the industry-wide problem.
“I think that feedback on websites such as TripAdvisor can be very useful for restaurants and pubs but they need to have the confidence that the review is posted by a genuine customer,” he said.
“The BHA has had a number of meetings with TripAdvisor on this subject and we’re pleased that steps have been taken to ensure that this is this case for our members.”
Livebookings suggests operators follow these steps to manage their online reviews:
- Identify which websites your customers are posting reviews to
- Regularly monitor the websites to see what’s being posted
- Engage with negative reviews to show you value a customer’s comment and explain how you will address the problem
- If you are unable to post a reply, contact the website