We’re not sure if it was then a good thing or a bad one, but generating a great review from a food critic used to be more clear-cut. He would come and visit your place; your cooks, in their smart chef coats, would prepare your specialty dish; and the following day you can anticipate the review to come out in the newspaper. If a review came out somewhat negative, you could come up with a reply and maybe fix it with a complimentary bottle of wine.
A few years went by and review sites came along, allowing everyone who can run a blog to leave a review about a restaurant. The system did not quite run well for most restaurateurs, but such was the trend and we gladly accepted it. But now things have completely changed.
Real Time Review
Before, however biased the review sites are, we could name those who gave opinions on our restaurants, now we have a number of faceless reviewers that can make or break our business. Mobile phones, apps and social media have now given the average diner the power to assess, appraise, appreciate or deride a restaurant’s décor, ambiance, music and food. All that in real time, and in multiple platforms.
That silent customer sitting in the corner table who patiently tolerated your waiter’s nasty behavior might be, right then and there, relating the experience to Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Tumblr, Foursquare or any other blog site or review sites available and reaching thousands of other customers.
Trusted Word-of-Mouth Uploads
Load up Facebook or Twitter and you would, more often than not, see someone sharing a photo of their dinner or a mini-blog about the restaurant they are dining at. And most often you are not aware of the conversation, as it transpires not on your company’s page but on the customers’ own profiles. One important thing to note is that these generations of users trusts their friends’ recommendations and rely on their judgments, so any review, good or bad, could easily shape the opinions of hundreds of possible customers. Many times, we ourselves see people vent out on Twitter and we instantly boycott the business.
And most of our food critics love pictures of food. Their uploaded food photos say, “hey, you should’ve been with me, the food is great.” Add the existence of mobile phones with high powered cameras and you get snap- happy diners in your restaurant, sending photos of your dishes to their favorite websites.
Good Thing or Bad
If in the old times the pressure happens when the food critic comes to visit, nowadays, the demand for excellence is always on. This new batch of critics that we have now might not have an audience that is as large as a traditional reviewer’s, but word-of-mouth advertising is an influence we have to reckon with. The best way to deal with this is of course to make sure that your chefs in their wondrous chef coats stick to quality, delectable food with amazing presentations and provide outstanding service. When done properly, these reviews can act as little advertisements for your restaurant. Inexpensive, fast and effective advertisements, at that.
Once again, technological advancement has brought a whole new level of transparency to our world and yes, we can guess that this can only be a sign of something good.