Should chefs and restaurant owners defend their establishments on TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor have long been a nemesis of restaurant owners. Yes, glowing reviews can of course be a welcome PR tool for getting new customers through the door, but many chefs we have worked with say that the site tends to receive more negative reviews which can unfairly skew the ratings if good experiences are not equally reported. However, for consumers it can be really useful in deciding where to make their next reservation so it is important to manage and monitor the way restaurants and other service companies interact online.
Is the customer always right?
In this digital age customers wield a lot of power online as they can express their opinions via websites, blogs and social media. Everyone has an opinion, and someone, somewhere is listening or reading it.
Just less than a week ago a chef-proprietor of a small restaurant group based in the Northwest of England went viral owing to a response to a bad review left by an unhappy customer on TripAdvisor.
Even though the review was very short and quite unspecific, the owner was so incensed by being given 1 star out of 5 that he felt it necessary to post a response personally rather than leave it to his regular operations manager to reply as normal. Instead he engaged in a strongly toned rant as he defended his staff and went as far as to accuse the customer of stealing, that the police had been informed and ended by saying he was banned. The post appeared on Twitter and praise was heaped onto the owner from both the public and members of the hospitality industry for standing up for his business and his team and proving that there are two sides to every story.
Was it the right thing to do?
From a PR perspective, it is key for companies and their employees to consider Online Reputation Management. Direct communication with audiences is generally seen as a good thing – inviting opinion and being open to criticism is part and parcel of offering a service or selling a product. But being overly defensive can be a risky reaction as It can spark similar criticisms if there is a genuine issue. Complaints can also open up any weaknesses to competitors so it is something to be aware of. We would advise that all complaints are taken seriously, even if you think there might be a hidden agenda. In this instance the fed-up owner chose a reactionary belittling method to get his own back but a slightly different approach would be our recommendation….
Our Online Reputation Management golden rules:
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