Trends & Insights Restaurants Reviews – How Much Does a Restaurant’s Reputation Actually Matter? Laura Badiu // August 8, 2018 // 5 minute read If Maslow taught us anything is that food is one of the primary human needs, that stands at the very bottom of the pyramid. The food business has come a long way from hunting to stay alive, to building a multi-billion dollar industry that can even turn food into a form of art. Restaurants are highly competitive nowadays because, let’s be honest: there are so many options out there. So many different types of food, so much diversity, so many experiences. So besides the food that restaurants specialize on and the service that they offer, how much does their reputation truly weight in the eyes of the consumers and does it really impact the decision of going or not going to a restaurant? Considering that, in the United States, 94% of restaurateurs are monitoring the reputation of their businesses, the obvious answer would be… a lot. It’s also not hard to understand why. When it comes to any type of business, it’s important to know that most consumers base their buying decision on reviews. A study conducted by Tripadvisor revealed that the vast majority of diners consider online reviews before choosing a restaurant. Also, it has been unveiled that the restaurant business is the most affected by negative reviews, even more than hospitals. There’s a general consent in the industry that a restaurant’s reputation is of a great importance and it’s a crucial factor in the decision making process. As in the case of hotels, the overall impression of a restaurant has a great impact on the number of reservations and the end revenue. Studies have even discovered that reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales. Not only that, but consumers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. However, when referring to restaurants, things might be even more sensible than in the hotel business. We’re talking about food, something that goes deeper than an external experience. It influences all senses. This takes quality to a whole new level and it makes things even more personal, so restaurant managers have quite the pressure on their shoulders. A lot on their plate, we might say. What does this mean in terms of reputation? Well, for once, any mistake might come with pretty big consequences attached. Whether it’s the service, but especially the food, serving a less that average meal is often taken as an affront by customers and tends to lead to a negative review. When thinking at the big picture, one negative review might not seem like much. Happens to the best of us, that’s for sure. But did you know that, on average, a single negative review costs businesses 30 customers? That’s right - because that is the power that reputation actually holds. The majority of the population doesn’t go out to eat on a daily basis and the act of going to a restaurant has been considered for a long time, a sign of wealth. Most people go out to lunch/diner on special days, celebrations, anniversaries, promotions, meetings with friends and family. Also, given the price that consumers pay, which is obviously higher than what it costs them to buy produce from a supermarket and cook it at home, it’s only natural that the expectations rise accordingly. So when you add those expectations to the amount spent and the possible special occasion, it’s understandable why making a bad impression in terms of food or service can affect a restaurant’s reputation. On the other side, it’s important to know that there’s an uprising trend in the restaurant business, which is based on consumers leaving more and more positive reviews. Basically, there is a shift from customers that use reviews to complain about a place towards reviews written for recommendation purposes. And given the fact that 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, it’s easy to understand the impact that an excellent reputation has over a restaurant’s overall success rate, popularity and revenue. All in all, the restaurant industry, as most of today’s businesses, is deeply impacted by reputation. It’s a personal business, that caters (literally) to modern consumers, who have countless means of expressing their thoughts and opinions. Those opinions carry on to influencing the decision of future consumers - and so a circle is created. Good food and good service turn into positive reviews, which impact future sales. The better the reputation, the more chances of making it big in this competitive industry.