How Review Platforms Put Your Restaurant At Risk Of Failing And What Can Be Done

The Digital Age has evolved, been rebranded the world over, seen a massive shift in the power dynamics – a sizable spike in power given to the users, decentralizing what was once thought of as the norm: seasoned, professional critics, with a stroke of an unbiased pen, delivering reviews held to the highest standards. With their reputation on the line, there was little reason to believe otherwise. Now that the quickening pace of the internet-of-things have replaced the fallen – streamlining old processes all in the name of saving precious time( here’s looking at you, Uber), businesses are very much inclined to become adaptable, reflexive to the ever-changing landscape lest they fall out of favor and into the unknown.

A real-world case of flaws

Though technology is seen as a tool for improving our lives, worshipped by millions, it is not without faults. TripAdvisor, a restaurant review platform touted to be a foremost authority on user-generated reviews ran into a bit of a mishap, stress testing the validity of user-submitted reviews and materializing what was once thought of as an impossibility into a possibility(a frightening yet creative one at that). Oobah Butler, a food and lifestyle writer, managed to propel a fake restaurant per his creative juices, The Shed at Dulwich, to the number one top spot in one of the biggest cities on TripAdvisor. Prior to this, he was often “commissioned” to write positive reviews on of their place for a modest fee. And oftentimes, the restaurant’s bottom line would improve steadily. Deploying his friends to write reviews from different computers as a way to bypass any safety algorithms put in place by TripAdvisor, the “restaurant” was easily able to rise over time and eventually to the number one spot. Using inedible contraptions to create an illusion of trendy foods – bleach tablets, painted sponges, shaving cream and his own foot – he was able to escape any would-be scrutiny.

What if?

It’s highly unlikely that some random bystander would have the time to falsify a whole restaurant as a test or even a prank but it does raise some serious issues that may leave you at their mercy – anonymity, ill-intent, prank-driven, unempathetic to its consequences. Meanwhile, as a restauranteur, you’ve given a heart and a leg to keep your brainchild operational, if not for legacy then simply to maintain your lifestyle.

The problem at hand

Which brings me to the question: How do we effectively address such an issue? Even as we rely more and more on the internet for information, an unhealthy amount of that information can’t be trusted and is better left taken with a grain of salt. So as we embark forward, we must realize that freewheeling information, genuine or not should go through a minor vetting process – if only to keep the integrity of it. A platform that confers adequate feedback minus the unpredictability that comes with open platforms(Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor) that allows any random stranger at their whim to leave a scathing review – with the possibility of them never even having step foot into your restaurant. A platform that doesn’t broadcast those less-than-aboveboard reviews to any potential customers. A platform that instead opts for constructive feedback – a data mining machine that collects usable information that can be leveraged to increase customer lifetime value(frequent repeat visits).

Solution: Munchh’s Feedback-Intensive Platform

Munchh’s feedback platform functions as a more in-depth, more customer-centric, more restaurant-focused, more control-based alternative. A platform that allows restaurant owners to receive feedback from patrons that have actually dined at their establishment. Picture this: a customer finishes their meal, scans the QR code particular to that restaurant, leaves feedback and a review on the overall ambiance, service, food, etc, and receives points which can then be redeemed in exchange for a gift of your own choosing(discount, free coke). It’s a win-win situation: you’ll collect actionable data to be used strategically(think Facebook or Google) within a protected sphere in exchange for providing a small reward to the customer to keep their interest piqued.

Taking charge of your success

Little can be done to stop unwarranted, just downright fictional reviews by shady characters. But when there’s a more reliable source, users will naturally flock to it in droves, changing the symbiotic relationship between restaurant’s and it’s patron forever.

Don’t let fake reviews sink your bottom line. Act now. Without delay.


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