Having an all-star, interactive online presence can help get restaurant customers in the door.

According to the Association’s 2017 National Household Survey, 51 percent of consumers said the ability to read online reviews before dining out would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another similar restaurant.

Popular online review sites include Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenTable, among others. Encourage customers to leave reviews about their fantastic experience at your restaurant, and ask them to bring their friends for a repeat visit. Here are four tips to set your restaurant up for online review success:

  • Claim your business. Maintain control over your business information, such as hours of operation and your official website, by claiming your restaurant pages within these review sites. This also allows you to upload photos and respond to reviews.
  • Monitor your review pages. Read the feedback your guests are providing on these sites. Are you seeing themes? Are people loving a dish that was on special? If you get enough comments, consider making it a menu mainstay. To keep review monitoring on your staff’s radar, designate who is on “review watch” in your restaurant, so they can allocate time for this.
  • Start a conversation. To show guests that you care about their business, acknowledge the reviews – both glowing and not ideal – by responding in a timely manner. If a customer raves about a particular dish, perhaps offer the backstory for that dish in addition to a kind “thank you.” If someone did not have an outstanding experience, try to make it right by offering an incentive for a return visit. 
  • Remind customers to spread the word. If you’re not seeing a ton of reviews yet, create an appealing promotion to encourage in-store customers to post reviews online after they dine. Make customers aware of your promotion as they make an in-store purchase, and include the deal on in-store signage, Wi-Fi login pages and table tents, too.