Customer Reviews - The Unfair Restaurant Rating System

07.11.2020

Going Out is handing back control to venue owners and taking it away from unfair and biased, review based websites.

The majority of reviews left on mainstream websites are merely opinionated dribble! These websites are a breeding ground for the overly biased, unfair, frequently disingenuous and often aggressive opinions of individuals with too much time on their hands, looking to vent online with a community of equally ‘experienced counter-part critics’! Unfortunately, for venue owners and operators, these mainstream review based websites provide the platform, the allies and the audience in abundance.

We understand that reviews play an important part in consumer decision making and if processed with a ‘pinch-of-salt’ they can be helpful! However, it is rare that reviews of food and drink truly represent the product, premises, service or experience received, ranging from being disappointing, to potentially disastrous, for the pub, restaurant or venue in the public spotlight.

Negative Reviews 1

Negative reviews – an unfair rating system…

Tens of thousands of UK restaurants, pubs and hospitality venues fall foul of unbiased, opinionated, rude and damn-right insulting reviews left on major websites such as TripAdvisor. These negative reviews can be devastating for the business, often causing the venue owners a great deal of unnecessary stress and anxiety. User reviews can also go far beyond complaints about a mediocre meal, poor pint or shoddy service to much more serious claims about theft, fraud and sexual assault, the seriousness of these reviews becomes a huge and overwhelming problem for restaurant and pub owners throughout the UK.

Marketing people call a consistent one-star attack of negative reviews, on a single venue, “review bombing”. Negative review bombing is terminology that strikes fear into the heart of anybody operating a food and drink business; often these attacks go undetected by the website and unless the one-star reviews breach ‘review guidelines’ they are not easily removed! Before the TripAdvisor platform was launched back in 2000, the customer was not always king, and the customer was not always right! With the launch of several major review driven platforms it is now the case that the customer has become a formidable opponent, the customer is now empowered to make or break a venue – a daunting reality for restaurant and pub owners everywhere.

It is not uncommon for venue owners to lean on the legal sector and threaten to sue customers who post negative reviews about their venue. Unless dealing with an extreme and slanderous case this is typically a hugely expensive time-sink, with many hours of additional frustration and no satisfactory result.

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"But not all reviews are bad" we hear you say.... In fact, there are millions of positively glowing reviews online!

Fake reviews – a flawed rating system….

There is a huge shadow industry of fake reviews and people paid to leave fake reviews, good or bad! Reviews can be bought, sold and traded on the internet easily, completely undermining the entire review-based system – it is a flawed popularity contest in which you can pay to win, or pay for somebody else to lose!

The review based business model relies upon having real customers, post real reviews - it’s not rocket science, but it is exceptionally difficult and costly to police. Without this layer of transparency the entire credibility of a system must be questioned. Tripadvisor has been under scrutiny many times over the years with the credibility of reviews and ratings on the system in question. One of the most damaging aspects of fake reviews is that they cast doubt over genuine reviews, the reader may be able to spot an overly zealous review or a review that is just so bad it’s hard to comprehend, but this leaves the vast majority of food and drink reviews in a questionable limbo, “do I believe the information presented or not”. This trust issue results in a flawed business rating system.

It has been proven many times that anybody can beat an online review based website rating system. If you have ever watched the Vice magazine documentary created as a hoax by the journalist Oobah Butler called ‘The Shed at Dulwich’ then you will understand that review based ranking systems are fundamentally flawed. The Shed at Dulwich became the number 1, top-rated restaurant in London on TripAdvisor simply by uploading fake reviews!

Its well worth a watch, you can find the documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqPARIKHbN8

Reviews shed dulwich

It is easy to understand just how simple it is to fabricate reviews and boost a venues’ popularity by review-bombing fake reviews. Platforms that can be manipulated and falsified to this degree are a serious concern to venue owners and are also doing the general public a disservice as they too are being deceived.

Common sense…

At Going Out we acknowledge that poor product and poor service exists and typically these factors alone will determine a venues fate! We understand that for high quality and well managed venues; you are only as good as your last service! Everybody in the trade has dealt with a difficult customer, everybody has a bad day, and everybody has the ability to improve, without the need for this to be unfairly advertised to millions of potential paying customers, through a negative review!

With over 800million reviews and opinions listed on the TripAdvisor website the problem facing landlords and restaurateurs in huge, on average their website receives 270 global contributions every minute, a frightening statistic if you happen to be on the receiving end of overly biased, unfair, disingenuous or the aggressive opinions of a disgruntled individual.

Beat the reviews…

It’s time to hand control back to venue owners! Thousands of venues are utilising www.goingout.co.uk to showcase their venue in detail and to promote their food and drink through the search engine. Restaurants, pubs clubs and venue owners are promoting their menu, facilities and benefits in real time and getting more paying customers through the door. Going Out is empowering venue owners to get more customers with NO REVIEWS!

Click here to register your venue.