One of the best tools available to restaurant owners are online review sites. More and more these days, people are turning to sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp! to help them decide which restaurants they go to. Having a good rating on one of these sites could be the difference between bringing in a large amount of new customers or having your numbers shrink.
But in terms of marketing, there isn't much you can do to improve your standing. For instance, with your SEO strategy, there are things you can do to improve your standing within search engines. But with review sites, it all comes down to how well you serve your customers. That being said, the more reviews you can gather, the better. To do this, there are a few proven strategies you can try, that will encourage more people to leave a review on sites like TripAdvisor, and ultimately bring in more customers.
Ask Your Customers While They Visit
If your customers don't know you want reviews on TripAdvisor, they are less likely to give you one. Not everyone is inclined to leave a review after they eat, and they need a little prodding. There are several ways you can go about politely asking for customers to leave a review.
First, hang up a sign by the register, near the exit, or on individual tables. All it needs is the name of your restaurant, a link to your page on TripAdvisor (or Yelp!), and a short message asking customers to leave a review.
It's also not a bad idea to have your wait staff mention TripAdvisor at the end of the meal. Have them direct attention to the signs on the table, or simply mention how they can leave a review. Having your staff deliver the message makes it more personable, and doesn't take up much of the customer's time.
Finally, you could offer a discount or other reward for leaving a review. This gives your customers an added incentive, making it much more likely that they'll leave a review. Just be sure you aren't offering anything in exchange for a positive review, as this is against the terms of service for TripAdvisor. Even if your customer decides to leave a negative review, they should still receive the incentive, as long as their feedback was honest.
Leverage Your Wi-Fi
Another way to ask your customers is through your Wi-Fi landing page. If you provide free Wi-Fi to your customers, there is likely an initial page that each customer sees when they first log in. On this page you could include a message asking for a review, and a link to TripAdvisor. This is a great time to ask for a review, as it immediately follows a good experience (free Wi-Fi), and your customers are already on the Internet.
Wi-fi analytics systems have become so advanced that they can detect when guests are in your restaurant, and automatically send a request to write a review after they visit.
Share Links on Social Media
Besides asking the customers while they are in the restaurant, you could ask them via social media. Often, if someone likes your restaurant, they will follow your social media accounts to keep up to date on the latest specials, events, and discounts. Your social media accounts are a great place to provide a periodic link to TripAdvisor, asking for past customers to leave a review.
Advertise on Review Sites
Your last option is to advertise directly on sites like TripAdvisor. People viewing these sites are people who have an interest in reviews, and are therefore more likely to leave one of their own. They might stumble across an ad for your restaurant, and having been there before, decide to leave a review. It's a great way to catch those people who enjoy leaving restaurant reviews after they have left your place of business.
However you decide to go about it, be sure you make restaurant reviews a main component of your marketing strategy. Setting up a profile on these sites doesn't take a lot of time, nor does directing people to leave a review, making it a great use of your resources.