Posts on Jan 1970

Managing Trip Advisor (the Wild West of restaurant reviewing)

Seen as everything from a useful resource, to a necessary evil to ‘Sh*t Advisor’, it’s not the easiest thing to manage as a restaurant owner. ‘Riddled with fakes and idiots’, with anyone able to write whatever they like, whether they even actually been in or not (see Marina O’Loughlin’s excellent rant about it here), and the ease at which it’s now weaponised by customers with a grudge, it’s hard to view it as a reliable source of information.

However, because your restaurant will have a presence there whether you set it up or not, it really pays to be on top of it and make it work for you as much as possible. Have a read below for a few things to be aware of that have become key for me over the years.

Keep your profile updated

This applies to all your comms, but make sure the information on your profile is accurate. If your menu changes every day, call the display one a sample menu so customers know it might be different on the day of their booking. Correct opening hours goes without saying.

Also use it to show off your food – add new photos when you have them. Customer photos will be there too unfortunately; they are almost always awful but by adding your own you can show that you have a great venue. If you don’t have the resource for this, hire someone to look after your digital presence, or keep it really simple.

Be consistent

You should reply to as many reviews as possible, both positive and negative. I tend to thank them for the their feedback, if it’s positive say we hope to see them again, and if negative address their points, apologise/defend as appropriate (more on this below).

Be personal

When responding to reviews, refer to something they’ve said – cookie cutter replies can look a bit lazy, whereas slightly more personal replies show you actually care about your customers. It can mollify someone who may have complained, and further enhances you in the eyes of someone who already thinks you’re great. Of course sometimes there isn’t scope for this, but worth bearing in mind.

Be polite

…but make sure readers know if you’re not at fault. If/when customers go to town on you, address their complaints, and apologise if they’re right and dispute it if they’re wrong. Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut in Chester is great at this, dressing down awful customers with finesse. If their complaint was a genuine mistake on your part, apologise. If they didn’t complain on the night but are very moany on TA, reference that. It’s all about showing other readers that yes you care, but you won’t be slagged off.

Don’t bother paying

I’ve never seen any particular benefit to paying for premium profiles or advertising. Perhaps the exposure is better, but I would suggest that there’s a raft of better ways to spend that money.

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