Restaurant Review Websites: What Consumers Need to Know

Restaurant Review Websites
The scenario goes something like this: you and your family (or friends) are hungry and want to get a bite to eat, so you turn to a trusted online restaurant review site like OpenTable or Yelp to try and find a place to go. Along with looking at the area of the restaurant, the price and the type of food, you also scan through the reviews to see if the restaurant you’ve chosen is worth it. If the reviews are good, chances are that you’ll dine there, but if the reviews are bad, chances are that you’ll pick someplace else.

Most people today are turning to online review sites to help them make decisions, but when it comes to restaurant review sites, there are a few things you need to know.

The restaurant information may be wrong.
Most restaurant review sites allow anyone to create a page for any business. This means that a customer can create a page for a restaurant and leave any information they want, which means that the address, phone number, hours or any other information listed on the site could be wrong. A business can “claim” their page on most review sites, which gives them access to editing the information, but there’s no way of knowing if the business itself created the page or if some random customer did. This means that if you trust a review that says a restaurant is open til 1am, you may be sadly disappointed when you go out for a late night bite and the place is closed.

Restaurant Review Websites

Most of the rating systems are made up.
Most restaurant review sites use a rating system that allows customers to rate the restaurant on certain categories, such as price, food, cleanliness, etc. These answers are then compiled together to form one standardized rating. The problem is that most online review sites use a rating system that they made up themselves, so a company with one positive review could rate higher than a company with 100 positive reviews and 10 negative reviews.

You can’t trust what you read.
Along with the restaurant’s information being wrong, it’s very likely that you’ll end up reading one (or two, or twenty) fake online reviews. Plenty of restaurant owners, employees and even patrons feel the need to fill online review sites with fake reviews (both positive and negative) to either make their business look like the best restaurant in the world or to make their competition look bad.
Even though most review sites do their best to try and weed out those reviews that are fake, some still find their way onto the pages of restaurants, leaving unknowing readers to think that they’re real. While there are a few ways to spot a fake review (perfect grammar, constant mention of the restaurant name, and being overly specific), you may not be able to tell the difference between the fake and the real, and you could end up making a dining decision based on a fake review, which could ruin your entire experience.

Though it would be nice to trust online restaurant review sites, these are a few things to be cautious of if you do use them to choose your next restaurant.

Image is licensed under CC Attribution
Jacob Smith
About the Author:

Jacob Smith has been a restaurant owner for six years and has seen his ups and downs in the business.  He recently wrote about the importance of restaurant review websites for business.

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