Last updated: 01.07.24

Online Restaurant Reviews: How They Can Impact Your Business


In recent decades, with the birth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rapid advancement of technology, the ability to connect with others is easier than ever before. No matter where we are, as long as we have access to the internet and a smart device, we can connect with our friends, colleagues, and clients across the globe in a matter of seconds.

Equally, with the expansion of social media, the public has gained a new voice and platform to express their thoughts and opinions. When it comes to the hospitality industry, one particular way in which customers do this is by leaving reviews for your establishment. At the press of a button, restaurants, cafes, and other food-oriented businesses can be reviewed online, making every customer experience crucial to a business's reputation.

With the UK having experienced a “foodie phenomenon” in recent years, there’s been an eruption of food bloggers, influencers, and food recommendations and reviews taking to the internet. Given that 82% of customers read online reviews for local establishments before deciding where they eat, drink, and shop according to research, it’s all the more important that businesses are conscious of how this can impact them. 

In this article, we delve deeper into how online restaurant reviews can impact your food business, and how you can best manage these reviews in order to strengthen your customer base and reputation. 

The Influence of Social Media and Why Restaurant Reviews Are Important

To put things into perspective, UK data shows that there are roughly 40 million unique users on smartphones. The amount of time that people spend on their smartphones is an average of four hours and 14 minutes, according to recent research.

Given that social media and online platforms are accessible to the majority of mobile phone and other device users, it's evident that a mass amount of people are capable of sharing their dining experiences on restaurant review sites and other online platforms. The audience scope for these reviews is massive, where the same 40 million unique users in the UK can view all online restaurant reviews on their smartphones.

If your restaurant receives many good reviews, your customer base may very quickly expand, as it looks great to those who are interested in dining with you. According to research, consumers are likely to spend 31% more if a business has excellent reviews. Also, 72% of customers state that positive reviews give them more trust in a local business, according to additional data

However, it’s difficult for restaurants to have only positive reviews and no negatives. If your restaurant is constantly receiving poor ratings on social media and restaurant review sites, your business is likely to suffer by receiving fewer customers, and therefore a reduced profit, due to a tainted reputation.

Research shows that 94% of consumers are convinced to avoid a business based on a negative review, and further insights highlight that a single negative review will cost a business 30 customers. This is why it is important not to dismiss the impact that online customer reviews have. 

But the way to avoid bad reviews isn’t to shy away from advertising your business on social media and restaurant review sites. In fact, this can also be damaging.

There are ways that you should manage your online restaurant reviews to best minimise the damaging effects of negative reviews, and keep positive reviews pouring in to improve your business reputation, which we’ll delve into in this article.

Why Are Online Restaurant Reviews Important to Customers?

Online restaurant reviews are a great way for customers to decide whether or not a restaurant is worth spending their time and money at, in line with the opinions and feedback it has received from other members of the public. Therefore, restaurant online reviews can also help customers avoid any disappointment they may experience if an establishment does not live up to their initial expectations.

Along a similar vein, whenever you make a decision in your day-to-day life, it’s likely that you don’t just take one person’s thoughts or opinions as gospel. Instead, you’ll do your research to determine whether what you hear is trustworthy in line with what other people are saying. 

This is no exception when it comes to online restaurant reviews. Review sites for restaurants act as a resource where customers can see a pool of people’s feedback and opinions about a restaurant, acting as a more trustworthy source that has a greater influence on their dining decisions.

Finally, searching for online customer reviews for a restaurant can be done quickly and easily to help customers make an informed decision as to whether or not they should dine at an establishment, making for a convenient resource to support their decision-making process.

Why Are Online Restaurant Reviews Important to Your Business?

They Make or Break Your Reputation

The ease of writing online restaurant reviews means that the reputation of your business can very quickly be made, or broken. A negative review can have a profound impact on your business's reputation in a number of ways, including:

  • Deterring customers from coming back to your restaurant
  • Impacting your ability to attract employees or new customers
  • Influencing potential customers to not dine at your restaurant
  • Decreasing revenue because fewer customers are dining at your establishment

However, should you receive more positive reviews, the above points will have the opposite effect - increasing your restaurant reputation as well as revenue and repeat customers. 

They Can Influence Your Website Traffic

If you have a website for your establishment, online restaurant reviews can play a key role in how many people visit your online site. If you have more positive reviews, your website is more likely to rank at the top of search engine results pages. In turn, this has a knock-on effect by increasing your visibility amongst potential customers, so more people visit your establishment. 

In our current digital era, having an online presence that is more noticeable plays a crucial role in increasing engagement from your target audience and driving sales, which is why you want more positive online reviews to support. 

Managing Your Online Restaurant Reviews

In line with the above, it is more important than ever before for restaurants to strive to provide the best possible customer experience. Doing this will lead to more positive reviews being left for your business, which increases your customer base, drives sales, and enhances your reputation. 

This will also minimise your probability of receiving a negative review, as your customers will likely have a better dining experience at your establishment and will either be satisfied enough to not leave a negative review or will share a positive review to reward you for your excellent efforts. But, should you receive negative reviews, it’s important to resolve these issues positively to maintain your reputation. 

Below, we’ve delved into the ways in which you can manage your online restaurant reviews to promote your business reputation and increase customers, contributing to the continued success of your operations. 

Monitor Customer Feedback Regularly

Make sure that you’re reviewing your online restaurant reviews regularly to see what customers have to say about your business and operations. This way, you can strategically make improvements to your restaurant depending on what issues have been raised by customers. This will improve their future experiences when dining with you, and resolving these problems quickly will mean that similar reviews highlighting the same problems don’t arise again. 

You can also see exactly what your customers are praising you about so that you can continue to do more of this in your restaurant and day-to-day operations.

Encourage Your Customers to Leave You a Review

Encourage your customers to leave you a review when they’ve dined at your restaurant. You can either do this by asking them in person, leaving prompts such as signage throughout your restaurant, or including a QR code on business cards or tables, which will direct them to a review site.

Doing this in person, however, is a great way to engage with your customers and allows you to leave a good impression on them, which might increase their chances of leaving an online restaurant review as a result.

Make Sure You Have a Google Business Profile

Having a Google business account is a free service that can massively benefit your business. Google is the most popular search engine in the world, so it’s likely that customers will turn straight to this in order to leave a review of your business. Therefore, by claiming your business on Google and setting up a Google business account, you make yourself visible to customers and can respond to their online restaurant reviews. 

Take Responsibility and Resolve any Negative Feedback Shared in Online Restaurant Reviews

Finally, if your business receives bad restaurant reviews you must take responsibility for this and work to resolve issues swiftly. This demonstrates that you take your customer’s criticisms seriously and that you’re willing to help to fix them to enhance their experience, showing that customer needs and opinions are a top priority for you. 

Apologise for the problems and inconveniences that your customer shares they had as a result of your dining experience, whilst acknowledging that this is something that needs to be resolved and that you will do this accordingly. In some cases, you can even offer compensation as a way of compelling your customers to continue visiting your business and offer them the opportunity to see that you have made improvements in line with their feedback. 

The Importance of Adequate Training in Increasing Positive Restaurant Reviews

When it comes to another way to increase good reviews for restaurants, businesses want to make sure that they’re investing in adequate and professional training for their employees. Your customer’s experiences can be heavily influenced by the behaviour of your staff, so make sure that they are capable of completing tasks to the best of their abilities.

In line with this, when it comes to considering eating at a new restaurant, how highly it has been rated in relation to food hygiene is often a decisive factor. Poorer food hygiene standards are likely to be something that customers mention in bad restaurant reviews, so it is crucial for restaurants to make sure that they maintain the highest food safety standards.

In order to achieve this, restaurants can provide e-learning training for their staff so that they are aware of the importance of food safety routines and checks. Online training for safeguarding and food hygiene will also protect consumers' health, leading to a more positive dining experience. 

Here at Virtual College, our Level 1, 2, and 3, Food hygiene Training Package offers restaurant owners and their staff the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills in line with UK and EU food hygiene requirements so that you are fully equipped to offer exceptional food hygiene standards in your business. 


How Do I Find My Restaurant Reviews?

To find your online restaurant reviews, either refer to your Google Business Account or check individual review sites to see where your restaurant has a presence. This includes TripAdvisor or OpenTable. You can view your reviews here and manage them by claiming your restaurant if you haven’t done so already. 

What’s the Best App for Restaurant Reviews? 

Whilst there are a number of reputable online restaurant review sites, TripAdvisor is one of the most popular and has a good reputation. In fact, it’s been reported that UK consumers turn to TripAdvisor the most to view online reviews, with 68% doing so, according to data, and that this is higher than other online platforms. 

Should Restaurants Respond to Reviews? 

As established earlier, it’s crucial for restaurants to respond to negative reviews in order to maintain their company’s reputation and enhance customer experience and loyalty. However, there is a manner in which this must be done in order to achieve the best outcomes for your business, which is what we detailed in our ‘managing your online restaurant reviews’ section earlier. 


Customers hold the power to make or break your business’ reputation, with online restaurant reviews shared by members of the public being a driving force in influencing the number of customers you receive. 

Given the digital era that we live in, it seems like customers sharing their feedback online, whether good or bad, is not something that is going to be slowing down anytime soon. This is why it’s critical that businesses acknowledge the importance of online restaurant reviews and how they can best be managed in order to support their restaurant to thrive. 

Our Food Safety and Hygiene Fundamentals Package is an essential course for food handlers, whether beginners or experts, to grasp the basics of food handling, including food hygiene, business compliance, and safeguarding. These areas all play a role in influencing your customer’s experience, so we would highly recommend investing in this course to help your business to be perceived as more capable and trustworthy amongst customers.