Diners read between six and 12 online reviews of an establishment when choosing where to eat and will not let one poor review spoil their opinion of a restaurant.  

That is according to Pollyanna Vincent from Trip Advisor who was speaking on a panel of experts at The Restaurant Show where she advised restauranteurs not to shy away from negative reviews but instead respond to them. 

Vincent argued that engaging with negative reviews demonstrates that a restaurant is listening to feedback from customers and making positive changes to improve the dining experience. She said Trip Advisor had found 50% of people will not book a restaurant that does not have online reviews of any sort which makes engagement with an online presence essential. 

This was reiterated by Sam Lynams of Sauce Communications who said customers in the UK are more likely than in the US to visit a number of different types of websites to build an overall impression of a restaurant before visiting. 

He therefore recommended using multiple online platforms such as such as a website, social media sites and google reviews and to remember people take a balanced view of the many reviews they read so one piece of negative feedback will not skew opinions.

Keeping historic negative live on a site demonstrates to diners that the restaurant listens and reacts to what customers have said, according to Vincent. She said it is essential to monitor what is being said online, engage with it and promote the business using review sites and social media to gain maximum exposure from the free publicity these platforms can bring.

This can be accentuated with images and descriptions of the restaurant and the food. Vincent emphasised the importance of keeping the description of the restaurant along with any photographs up to date to manage a customer’s expectations of the experience they will have.

With so many people eager to take photos of their dinner and share them online, Simon Huesser of Open Table advised restaurants tap into the trend as free publicity for the establishment to harness the “I want to eat that where can i get it?” feeling that food images can generated.