Online reviews for restaurants and dining establishments are here to stay. Let’s face it, with the majority of millennials making their dining decisions through online platforms such as Instagram and Facebook after looking at reviews online and at pretty pics of food, it’s natural that we would review our dining experiences online too.
But more often than not, when I speak to Chefs, Hoteliers, and Business owners in the Hospitality industry there is a genuine concern around online reviews. In particular relating to the pain they can cause a venue with potentially bad PR, the flow-on effect that can damage profits, and also what it does to their people; the people they invest in, and spend a lot of time to care and manage.
Motivating staff in any industry is hard work, and it is harder when you are constantly at the mercy of online reviews about your venue. Those in the food and wine industry have long been exposed to reviews. Food reviewers have been around for years and they have the ability to make a venue thrive or struggle just by publishing an article. The difference is they are trained to be objective in their review of a venue.
Now, when we open it up to everyone who has a laptop, a mobile phone, and Trip Advisor account, the game has changed. Venues need to be prepared for this and have an action plan in place to properly manage online complaints, also ensuring they are managing (and protecting) the well-being of their people.
Because what happens when online reviews get personal?
Reviews can be directed at a server, a chef, or a business owner, many of whom toil away for 15 hour days in a kitchen or restaurant. Trying to motivate your staff after online reviews that get personal is very challenging, and the reviews can be hugely detrimental to the people who work for you and the morale of the staff group as a whole.
Motivating a team is hard work, and trying to turn around staff who are de-motivated is even harder.
In recent times there has been a rise in defamation cases in the industry resulting in restaurants and venues bringing about legal action for damaging online reviews. There’s no doubt this trend is on the rise. Online reviews, whether positive or negative are a real factor in choosing a to visit a venue. Like it or not, I know they are here to stay.
Do I think they should be moderated more heavily? Absolutely. And here’s why... Just remember that old saying:
“You should treat others how you would like them to treat you”
And this should apply to online reviews. Yes, you might have had a bad experience. Yes the service or food might have been less than satisfactory, but all I ask is that you stop and think before you write that review as soon as you get home.
Stop and think before you write. If you would not be willing to tell someone what you are about to write to their face, if you would feel embarrassed by your words if someone said them back to you, don’t write them. Plain and simple.
There are many ways to provide constructive feedback without attacking individuals. If you have a specific problem with how an individual has conducted themselves and/or the way you have been treated, I would suggest a phone call to the Manager/ Owner, or a personal and private email. Remember, words hurt and can have damaging consequences.
Treat others how you would like to be treated, just my two cents.
Love to hear your thoughts.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: