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How do Restaurant Reviews Really Affect Your Business?

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Whether it’s a write-up in the Good Food Guide, a mention on Broadsheet or a photo gallery on a food blog, restaurant reviews have completely transformed over the years. But what does this mean for foodservice operators? 

A review can have an enormous impact on a new restaurant or café. If diners are to read something negative about a particular venue, whether it is of lacklustre food, a poorly designed space or bad service, they simply won’t come.

Earning positive reviews is an opportunity to get people in the door so they can then be surprised by the quality of the experience on offer. The important thing is to remember to treat all customers the same, regardless of what they order, or if they’re reviewing the venue or not.

But as many restaurateurs will know, some people just can’t be pleased. Often it doesn’t matter what you do; they’re not going to be happy.

As reviews have a massive impact on a restaurant’s livelihood, the way these reviews are influencing the foodservice industry is changing. Depending on what medium it is published; the impact on the venue can vary greatly.

The Good Food Guides are amongst some of the most important marketing tools for restaurants in Australia, as well as Zomato and Dimmi. The Good Food Guide is the go-to place for people who want to book a restaurant.

However, some may argue traditional reviewing platforms such as the Good Food Guides aren’t what they used to be.

Shaun Quade, co-owner and chef at Lûmé, a fine diner in south Melbourne, explains, “Reviewers in the traditional sense, the big dailies and the Good Food Guides, are not quite as relevant as they used to be because of all the other platforms that people can read and look at. But from a business point of view, it still brings people in to have one, two, three hats.”

The best thing about reviews – good or bad – Quade says, is the exposure. And it’s not the actual review that matters; news articles, pictures on social media, colourful feature articles, they all help to spread the word.

“Things like Broadsheet for example, they don’t actually write reviews, it’s a news piece more often than not. And a lot of people read it. A lot of people read it who wouldn’t normally come to a place like this, so it’s good exposure for us,” he says.

Another key benefit of reviews is the fact that restaurateurs are able to make changes to the business if a number of reviewers have shared the same opinion on the venue. It makes restaurant owners aware of the general public’s point of view.

Social media has also had a huge impact on the world of restaurant reviewing too; the proliferation of digital reviewing platforms has complicated the way restaurants are marketed in Australia. Social media has allowed for everyone and anyone to become a reviewer and have a valid and public opinion of a restaurant or café, be it good or bad.