Managing Online Reviews: Best Practices for the Holidays and Year Round

Jordan Smith, Senior Social Media & Email Specialist
Jordan Smith, Senior Social Media & Email Specialist

During the holidays, families are more inclined to make reservations online because they go out with larger parties. They also spend more time researching than usual because they want to impress visiting family members by taking them to the best restaurants. It becomes more than a Friday night dinner; it’s a chance to take “out of towners” to impressive local places. Review sites like Yelp are generally the first place a potential guest will visit when researching a restaurant, making it crucial to have those pages well managed during an influx of online and in-person traffic.

Whether your star rating is average or high, it’s still important for a potential guest to know that customer feedback is acknowledged and that you are working to improve your dining experience. Following are a few tactics you can utilize to set yourself apart all year long:

  1. Respond to Reviews Regularly. Make sure any action worthy reviews have been answered within the past month, and be sure to respond to reviews after a particularly busy night. If a potential guest is looking at Yelp, they’ll generally read the most recent reviews.
  2. Take the time to provide a thoughtful explanation. Handle each review with the goal of the guest to come back year after year. Ensuring they feel the restaurant values their patronage gives them more cause to spread the word and become an advocate for your business.
  3. Keep your website up to date. During busy holidays, diners are expecting prix fixe menus and specials in advance. Making those details readily available online will help increase the chances of them booking a table confidently and with expectations in line. Be sure your phone number, hours of operation, address, and restaurant website URL are always current.
  4. Leverage OpenTable. Often times potential guests will want to know if there are new menu offerings, or requirements for booking a table (i.e. credit card reservations during prime hours). Having this information listed on a guest-friendly platform such as OpenTable will ensure the guests’ experience is excellent from the start.

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