• Restaurant Marketing

Harnessing the Power of Online Reviews to Attract More Guests

by: Allen Graves
8 min read

You’ve put your heart and soul into crafting a beautiful menu, training your staff, and creating an ambiance that people will remember. Yet, even with all these elements perfectly in place, attracting new guests always remains a challenge.

This is where the power of online reviews comes into play. Not only can these digital testimonials drive new guests to your establishment, but they can also significantly influence your restaurant’s reputation, and their decision to return.

Here, we will dive into how you can harness the power of online reviews to attract more guests to your restaurant while keeping your current guests coming back for more.

online reviews attract more guests

The Impact of Online Reviews on Dining Decisions

In today’s digital landscape, the influence of online reviews on a potential guest’s decision-making process is enormous. People have grown accustomed to quickly checking reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor before deciding where to eat.

According to a recent survey conducted by Toast POS, for 46% of people, Google Reviews is the first place they check restaurant ratings, while 23% check ratings on Yelp first.

But why is this? What’s the psychology and impact behind online reviews, especially when it comes to attracting new guests to your restaurant?

Trust and Credibility

Firstly, reviews serve as a form of social proof, a psychological phenomenon where people look to the actions and opinions of others to make their own decisions. In essence, if numerous guests praise your restaurant’s exceptional food and service, this establishes a form of trust and credibility that money can’t buy.

For potential guests who are unfamiliar with your restaurant, these reviews serve as a vote of confidence.

Guest’s Risk Mitigation

Trying a new restaurant is a gamble for many people. They risk wasting time, money, and a potentially good evening on an experience that might not be worth it. Reading reviews helps to mitigate this risk.

Positive testimonials act as an assurance that their investment will likely pay off, while negative reviews provide cautionary tales that can steer them toward making a different choice.

Shaping Expectations

Online reviews don’t just inform potential guests about the quality of your food or service, they also set expectations. If reviews highlight the coziness of your restaurant and the friendliness of your staff, guests will walk in expecting a warm and inviting atmosphere.

These preconceived notions can either work for or against you, depending on how well the actual experience matches up with guest expectations.

Influencing Decision Factors

Some people prioritize specific aspects when choosing a restaurant, like dietary options, parking, ambiance, or kid-friendliness. Reviews often touch on these individual factors. A potential guest who needs gluten-free options will certainly pay attention to reviews mentioning the availability and quality of these dishes at your restaurant.

Amplifying Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth has always been a potent restaurant marketing tool for restaurants. In the digital age, online reviews are the new word-of-mouth, but with an exponential reach. A single well-crafted review can be read by thousands of people.

When these reviews are overwhelmingly positive, they become a powerful magnet that can draw new guests to your restaurant, effectively amplifying the classic word-of-mouth approach to an audience you couldn’t reach otherwise.

The Domino Effect

Every review counts. Each positive review can contribute to a snowball effect, encouraging more guests to visit and, hopefully, write their own positive reviews. On the flip side, a series of negative reviews can have the opposite effect, deterring potential guests from choosing your restaurant over competitors.

In summary, online reviews have a multifaceted impact on the decision-making process for potential guests. Likewise, they can influence decisions of previous guests,

They build trust, shape expectations, mitigate risks, influence specific decision factors, and amplify word-of-mouth, all of which collectively contribute to steering new guests towards or away from your restaurant.

Understanding this impact allows you to harness the true power of online reviews in attracting more guests.

restaurant online reviews to keep guests coming back

Take Control of Your Online Reputation

Taking control of your online reputation isn’t just a modern business practice, it’s a necessity in an era where everyone is a potential critic with a public platform. For restaurant owners, the online space provides not only challenges but also opportunities to directly influence how current and potential guests perceive your establishment.

Here’s how you can take the reins and positively shape your restaurant’s digital footprint.

Claim Your Profiles

The first step is claiming your business profiles on review platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, and TripAdvisor. This is more than just a formality. When you claim your profile, you gain the ability to respond to reviews, correct misinformation, update your business hours, and upload high-quality photos.

Essentially, you have more say in the narrative around your restaurant.

Keep Information Updated

There’s nothing more frustrating for a guest than showing up to a restaurant only to find it closed despite online listings stating otherwise. Ensuring that your business hours, menu, and contact information are accurate across all platforms is crucial.

Make it a routine to check and update this data, particularly if you have seasonal hours or menu changes.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Many businesses make the mistake of only interacting with their online reviews when something negative pops up. In reality, managing your online reputation should be a constant, proactive effort.

Regularly check review sites and respond promptly to reviews, both positive and negative, to show that you are engaged and value customer feedback.

Develop a Response Strategy

Responding to online reviews isn’t just about damage control; it’s also an opportunity to highlight what makes your restaurant special. Develop a response strategy that incorporates your brand’s voice and values.

For positive reviews, a simple thank-you can go a long way. For less favorable reviews, take the opportunity to apologize and address the issue, demonstrating your commitment to guest satisfaction.

Remember, how you respond to reviews sets the tone for potential guests reading them later.

Responding to an online review

Use Reviews as a Learning Opportunity

The idea of learning from reviews goes beyond simply managing your online reputation; it’s about extracting valuable insights that can drive improvement and innovation in your restaurant.

Reviews serve as a direct line to your guests’ thoughts and experiences, and wisely using this information can give you a significant edge in a competitive market.

Here’s how you can turn reviews into a potent learning tool.

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

First and foremost, online reviews provide an excellent opportunity to identify what you’re doing right and what needs improvement.

If multiple guests rave about your signature cocktail, you know that’s a strength you should maintain and perhaps even emphasize in future marketing efforts.

Conversely, if several reviews mention slow service during dinner hours, it might be time to reassess your staffing levels or consider additional training.

Adjusting Your Menu

Menu planning is both an art and a science. Reviews often contain valuable information about how particular dishes are received. Are guests mentioning that your vegan options are exceptional?

Then you might want to consider expanding that section of the menu. On the flip side, if a specific dish is frequently criticized, it may be time for a revamp or removal from the menu.

Enhancing Guest Experience

Sometimes, it’s the little things that leave a lasting impression. Reviews can offer insights into aspects you might not have considered. For example, guests might praise the atmosphere but suggest that the lighting is too dim or too bright.

These are elements that you can easily adjust to enhance the overall guest experience.

Training and Staffing

Your team is central to delivering an exceptional guest experience.

Reviews often provide feedback on staff performance, whether it’s a shoutout to a particularly attentive server or a complaint about unfriendly service. Use this information to identify training opportunities or to provide recognition for a job well done.

Real-Time Feedback for Quick Adjustments

One of the great advantages of online reviews is the immediacy of the feedback. Unlike formal surveys that might take weeks to analyze, reviews give you real-time insights that allow for quick adjustments to marketing and operations.

If you see recurring complaints about long wait times over a weekend, you can address this issue as soon as the next business day.

Setting Future Goals

Learning from reviews isn’t just about addressing current shortcomings, it’s also about setting new goals for your restaurant. Whether it’s aiming for a higher overall rating or striving to be the top restaurant in your local area for customer service or restaurant email marketing, reviews give you a measurable way to set and track these objectives.

By viewing online reviews as learning opportunities rather than mere critiques, you turn each piece of feedback into actionable data. This doesn’t just improve your restaurant in the eyes of future guests, it creates a culture of continual improvement within your team.

Over time, this approach will not only enhance the guest experience but also solidify your reputation as a restaurant that listens, learns, and evolves.

training staff about online reviews to improve guest experience

The digital landscape has made it easier than ever for guests to share their experiences, good or bad, with a wide audience. Leveraging the power of online reviews can make a significant impact on attracting new guests to your restaurant.

By actively managing your online reputation, engaging with reviewers, and using the feedback for improvement, you’re not just building credibility, you’re also laying down a red carpet that welcomes new guests to experience what your establishment has to offer.

In the end, the question isn’t whether online reviews are important, but how effectively you can use them to fuel your restaurant’s growth. So take charge, harness their power, and watch your guest list grow.

Schedule a Free Demo Today

Keeping a focus on guest satisfaction, customer sentiment, and online ratings and reviews using AI-driven tools can boost the visibility and reputation of your restaurant, helping you drive new guests into your restaurant – all while saving time and lowering marketing costs.

Call us or schedule a free demo online and Bloom will show you how our restaurant marketing platform can help you save time and increase your customer lifetime values by automatically building first-party customer databases, unlocking important guest insights to trigger marketing at the right time and place, discover true guest sentiment, easily manage and respond to reviews, save at-risk guests, increase your current guests’ frequency, and find new guests.

Click Here to Schedule a Free Online Demo or call Click To Call 727-877-8181 to see how we can help you save time and drive tangible results for your restaurants

Restaurant Marketing FAQs

What is Restaurant Marketing?

Restaurant marketing is the process of getting people to visit your restaurants. Restaurant marketing creates loyalty, provides data to research, analytics, and allows restaurants to gain a better understanding of their ideal customer profile. It utilizes all customer channels: guest WiFi, website, social, rating sites, mobile apps, email, text, and advertising.

Learn More About Restaurant Marketing Here

What is WiFi Marketing?

WiFi marketing is a marketing technique that uses guest WiFi to collect & clean customer data such as names, emails, phone numbers, customer behavior, and demographics. This data is used to personalize marketing campaigns to increase customer loyalty, build online reviews, and save at-risk customers. The performance of every campaign can be tracked down to the tangible ROI of a customer walking back in your door.

Learn More About WiFi Marketing Here

What is Restaurant Reputation Management?

Restaurant reputation management is the process for restaurants to manage customer feedback and creating systems to improve customer experiences, passively build positive online reviews, and save at-risk customers. It is a very important aspect of running a successful restaurant business.

Learn More About Restaurant Reputation Management Here

How Does Bloom Identify and Bring Back Lost Customers?

Bloom Intelligence uses machine learning to identify at-risk customers. When one is recognized, the system will send them a message with an incentive to get them to return and re-establish their visit pattern. Bloom users are seeing up to 37% of churning customers return.

Learn More About Saving At-Risk Customers Here


What our happy customers
are saying

“SaaS that covered so many bases for us instead of having to use multiple software products. Bloom Intelligence has simplified our responses to reviews, customer feedback, and more. I highly recommend Bloom Intelligence.”

Robert Sanderson

“Bloom Intelligence really is a step ahead in terms of marketing software and metrics. Their product is reliable, fast and innovative and has helped the company I work for really grow.”

John Marchetti

“Working with Bloom Intelligence has been amazing. They assist you every step of the way and work with you hand in hand to make sure you are optimizing your advertising potential. We are excited to use this tool to help learn more about our customers so that we can personally engage with them and understand our strengths/weaknesses.”

Ariel Ramirez

“In these challenging times, it has been a pleasure working with Bloom Intelligence to help facilitate our service offering to our clients. They were extremely responsive and provided support to mitigate risk and minimize revenue loss. Great partner!”

Stefan Kim

“We’re extremely pleased with the wealth of customer data that we’re able to gather, at a very attractive price.  In addition, we’re able to communicate our new product promotions by using  the landing page as a digital billboard.  A “no-brainer” for anyone working with limited Marketing $$.”

Bob Cross, Vice President of Operations

Subscribe Here for the Latest Updates

Never miss a post! We'll keep you up-to-date on the latest restaurant and retail WiFi marketing information.

Drop us a line!

We would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, comments or ideas about our restaurant marketing blog, drop us a line and let us know.

Or call us at 727-877-8181.

Contact Us