Crowd-Sourced Reviews: 5 Platforms to Monitor

Depending on the day, crowd-sourced reviews can either be a blessing or a curse. With easy access to various social media platforms and the internet, anyone can share their opinion, and paying attention to what diners are saying about your establishment pays off. In fact, the National Restaurant Association reports that more than one-third of diners use reviews to drive their decision-making when choosing a restaurant. Here are five review platforms to keep your eye on, and some information about each.

1. Yelp

Love it or hate it, Yelp is often the go-to app for diners. Not only does it allow users to find nearby restaurants, but it also gives them the opportunity to read and write reviews. Start by setting up a business page, which allows you to provide potential guests with all the information they need, including menus, hours, and website information. A number of details are available to guests before they even reach the reviews, so manage your Yelp profile and use it to remind guests about what makes you stand out from your competition. Yelp offers the ability to publicly or privately respond to guest reviews, so choose your response route carefully.

2. Google

This is an underestimated source of reviews. According to Constant Contact, 81 percent of consumers searched for a restaurant on a mobile device. They're likely to be using Google as their search engine, which shows the potential exposure your restaurant could have through a Google review. While your restaurant may have fewer reviews on Google than Yelp, they could be the first ones a potential guest sees. If you're a restaurant owner, you must go through a process to verify your restaurant in order to manage your profile, but this is worth the effort and will allow you to respond to reviews.

3. OpenTable

OpenTable is a tool that's increasingly used to streamline the reservation process at restaurants. It's also rather efficient when it comes to leaving crowd-sourced reviews. It's quick and easy to use, so users are likely to follow through with a review if you remind them a day or two after their visit. Just make sure to take the time to respond, and know that your response will be a direct response to the guest, not a public one.

4. Zagat

Zagat provides an objective look at your business, and is a bit more refined than other review sites. There's a process of getting into the Zagat guide that feels almost exclusive from the start, and managing your reviews here is important because Zagat only shows guests "the best places." Zagat offers lists of the best establishments to check out and helps promote special events and openings. This tool is used by locals as well as travelers, and has dedicated users.

5. TripAdvisor

Used largely by people who are traveling, TripAdvisor offers users the opportunity to set up a profile and write reviews. Similar to Yelp in appearance, TripAdvisor offers a quick overall view of a restaurant, and if potential guests want to see the details, they can read full reviews. You have the ability to respond directly or publicly to a guest, and can assess reviewers based on their other reviews and how many reviews they have posted to see how objective their review is. This helps when figuring out the next steps after you read their review.

In a world full of crowdsourcing, there are many online restaurant review platforms. Pick and choose the ones that are best suited for your restaurant, and focus on reading, reacting, and responding to the positive or negative experiences your guests have had.

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