wahm, mumpreneurOwn a Restaurant, Café or Coffee Shop? Are you taking time to manage your online reviews? Once upon a time, your restaurant reviews came from your customers in-house, by the way of either compliments or complaints to the waitress who then had either the delightful or dreaded job of dealing with these comments and then passing them on to the chef or restaurant owner. Comments were easily dealt with there and then, by the maître d or restaurant owner.

Bring us to 2012 and unhappy customers are more likely to take their comments public on the internet, rather than comment to the staff working at the premises in which they dined. Today, anyone can call themselves a restaurant/coffee critic or connoisseur, and critic they do!

As a restaurant/café or coffee shop owner, it is essential to keep on-top of on-line reviews and to respond to them in a timely manner. I can’t stress enough, how essential it is to keep track of these reviews, and where possible, to manage your listing by addressing all comments.


Managing your online reviews can be an overwhelming thought, or one that is just easily forgotten, but so is the thought of empty tables! Taking the time to respond to reviews on the most popular sites, will benefit your business and keep you as the business owner, accountable for your businesses profile and intern, gain more happy customers, by learning from feedback that has been left.

Start following popular food blogs, or keep tabs on blog reviews for your business but doing a weekly search. If you find your business has had a positive review, I suggest taking the time to respond to bloggers’ positive comments and photographs too. Treat these articles just the same way that you would a positive newspaper review or in-person compliment

Take the time to respond to all reviews, good and bad.

Don’t take part in any unprofessional responses. Keep all responses on a professional level, and thank customers for taking the time to write something positive about your business. I advise checking your listings, weekly or fortnightly, and that you as the business owner does this. If you are time poor, allocate your online review management to a trusted staff member to do as part of their job list on a regular basis.

Thank Reviewers for the positive points.

If a customer has mentioned something in particular that they liked the most (e.g., the dessert menu) make sure that you then mention this in your thank-you acknowledgement. E.g. It was wonderful to hear that you were impressed with our current dessert menu at….. etc.

So where do you start looking when checking for online reviews?

Below is my list of the top 5 places that you MUST pay attention to. Tripadvisor for Restaurants would still be the most but it is closely followed by many other popular sites and some that offer great iPhone apps for users to upload their information and reviews on the spot.

wahm, mumpreneur

The Top 5 Places You NEED to monitor, if you are a hospitality business owner/manager:

1. Tripadvisor Restaurants. Free management of your business page is possible with Tripadvisor restaurants. Restaurant owners can log in and respond to any reviews, add photographs and edit their information. Widgets are also available to link your tripadvisor page to your website or blog, just putting that thought there, for visitors to your website who may be interested in leaving a review. Tripadvisor also offers a free iPhone application for users so they can leave an instant review while dining. www.tripadvisor.com

2. Urbanspoon. Reviewers of restaurants can write reviews as well as vote if they like or don’t like the restaurant Urbanspoon also offers a bloggers review section where food bloggers can link their blog reviews, and a Critic Section, linked from the Your Restaurants page. Restaurant owners can manage their page by editing their restaurant details. Urbanspoon offers link widgets for restaurant/café owners for their website or blogs, a great way for customers to find your Urbanspoon page and can encourage positive reviews because of the easy access link. Urbanspoon also has advertising options available for purchase for business owners. www.urbanspoon.com

3. Bean Hunter. (my new favourite). Find the best coffee in your area, reviews by coffee lovers World Wide. Bean Hunter offers a wonderful iPhone application for users to check on coffee reviews conveniently. While restaurant owners cannot manage these pages, they can create an account and make sure that all of their listed information is correct, e.g., location, contact information, opening hours, coffee beans used, social media links. www.beanhunter.com

4. Eatability. Restaurant, café and takeaway reviews from most major cities in Australia. Restaurants gain their ratings from user reviews. If you are the owner/manager or authorised representative of a business, you can keep your listing up-to-date for free! You'll be able to add comprehensive information, special offers, photos, pricing, overview, map location and more. You can also promote more effectively to our users by taking up services such as featured offers! www.eatability.com.au

5. Foursquare. Social media site foursquare is fast becoming popular for all businesses; it is the most widely used in the hospitality industry. Users can “check-in” at restaurants, and leave reviews by the way of a “tip”. Foursquare offers free management of all pages, or page creation for all businesses. Page managers can create specials and update their contact details and opening hours for free. Photographs can only be uploaded by users. www.foursquare.com

Advice for Hospitality Business Owners re Online reviews, In summary….

1. Check and manage your online reviews and listings regularly. Commit to doing this on a regularly basis.

2. Respond to all comments where possible in a professional and courteous manner.

3. Create a positive online presence through your blog, website or social media pages by providing current information regularly.

4. If you receive positive comments from a diner, kindly suggest that they could leave a positive review online.

5. Link your online reviews to your website or blog through widgets supplied by review sites, to encourage positive reviews from diners.

6. I love meeting new business owners, so feel free to send me your links to your hospitality pages. If you need any assistance or advice on managing your hospitality pages, contact www.bluebirdinternetmarketing.com for our honest and professional opinion.

Judi Gray is a blog creator and social media specialist, with over 17 years’ experience in business administration and has a Diploma of Tourism. She works with businesses of all sizes creating, managing and advising clients on their Blog and Social Media Needs and shares her advice to business owners though her business Blog at Blue Bird Internet Marketing.