The “State of the Review” is an in-depth analysis ofrestaurant industry review data and reviewerbehavior.The data set consists of 1,500+ reviews for 350+business locations.The data and analysis has been provided byReputology.com – a review monitoring &management service.
The BasicsBefore delving into the fun details of review data and reviewerbehavior, let’s establish some baseline stats. 6.8 daysThe average restaurant receives 1 new review every Frequency that the average business gets 1 new reviewweek. Though the majority of reviewers give good ratings, onaverage, 1 in 3 of those reviews is lukewarm if not flat outnegative.As you probably expect, Yelp is the review directory thatgenerates most of the reviews - about 50%. That said, theother 50% is coming from the other review sites, like Google +Local, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, etc. Brought to You by Reputology.com
Indies Get 190% More Reviews, Chains May SufferOne of the biggest differences is theaverage number of reviews receivedby restaurant chains versus thosereceived by independents (defined inthis study as having 4 locations orless). It’s unclear why the magnitudeof the discrepancy is as large as it is,nearly double. But the fact thatindependents get more seemsreasonable because reviewers aretrying to help other diners getinformation about previouslyunknown local businesses. And theymight not feel this same need for thechains.Though the difference in averageratings is comparable, the differencein review volume would seemproblematic for restaurant chains,given that the algorithms ondirectories favor businesses withmore reviews (assuming ratings aresimilar) and more diners are goingonline to find a place to eat. Brought to You by Reputology.com
Reviewers Favor Fast Casual, Tough on Casual DiningRestaurant type matters. Fine diningreceives the most reviews at 6.5reviews per month, potentiallybecause its higher standards are amagnet for critique. Under that samerationale, casual dining receivesfewer at 4.4, and fast casual falls inline getting the fewest at 3.8.You might expect that fine diningreceives the highest average ratingbecause diners are supposedly payingfor higher quality service and food.But fast casual has an edge over bothfine dining and casual dining at 3.7stars versus 3.6 and 3.2,respectively. Possibly, fast casualbenefits from lowered expectations.Casual dining, on the other hand,might be suffering because it’scompared to fine dining.Fast casual also gets 12% more of itsreviews from Yelp than the othersegments do. This might be explainedby the fact that the demographics ofYelp reviewers and fast casual dinersboth skew younger. Brought to You by Reputology.com
American Gets More Reviews, Lowest RatingsA curious spread appears whenbreaking down the data by cuisine.Specifically, American restaurants get0.7 more reviews per month thantheir Ethnic counterparts. It could bethat American restaurants in our dataset receive more business and arethus just more likely to be scrutinized.Alternatively, it could be that a largerportion of the demographic going toEthnic restaurants are less inclined toleave reviews.Despite receiving more reviews,American restaurants get weakerratings compared to Ethnicrestaurants 3.2 versus 3.5,respectively. This might be becausemore American fare exists andcompetition for that cuisine istougher, whereas Ethnic restaurantsget a novelty bonus in the opinions ofits customers who do leave reviews.Italian restaurants were split out inparticular because they averaged thehighest ratings. We’re not sure yet asto why, but our best guess at thispoint is that pizza isn’t just great onmargins but also a tough-to-screw-upcrowd pleaser. Brought to You by Reputology.com
Yelp/Google Negative, Tripadvisor/Opentable PositiveRestaurants get lower ratings on Yelp and Google than they doon Tripadvisor and Opentable. This difference is about 0.5stars between Yelp and Tripadvisor and even higher betweenYelp and Opentable.One explanation is that the demographic of reviewers onTripadvisor and Opentable is less likely to leave a negativereview for a business. They may be older and less inclined tobe vocal and opinionated.Another is that Tripadvisor and Opentable are much more“business friendly” than Yelp and Google. Tripadvisor seems toencourage businesses to solicit reviews as evidenced by themarketing collateral it asks them to share with customers. AndOpentable’s reservation system means businesses can get theemails of their diners so that they can contact happy diners toask for reviews. Yelp and Google, however, have no solicitationpolicies, and Yelp is notorious for filtering legitimate positivereviews if they don’t pass it’s algorithm check.Note that this review data was gathered for businesses thatreceived at least 1 review on Tripadvisor to eliminate thepossibility that Tripadvisor draws better reviewed restaurantsthan Yelp and Google. Brought to You by Reputology.com
Reviewer Behavior, Market Penetration Vary by RegionThe average number of reviewsreceived per month differs by region.Most dramatically, restaurants in theLos Angeles, CA area receive doublewhat those in metros of Georgiareceive, at 5.5 reviews versus 2.7.Why restaurant reviews happen morein LA is unclear. Perhaps it’s afunction of the fact that Yelp hasmade reviewing a popular activity,and it is based on the West Coast.But Massachusetts restaurantsaverage about the same number ofreviews as Georgia, despite the factthat Yelping is more popular there(see Directory Distribution charts).On that note, differences in directorydistribution exist and haveimplications. Massachusetts reviewshave a distribution close to the globalaverage. Georgia reviews, on theother hand, are much more evenlydistributed. This might mean thatGeorgia business owners have moredirectories to tend to, but if theirreviews on one aren’t strong, it won’thave as large of an impact on theirreputation as it could for aMassachusetts owner.*Note that this data comes from a different selection ofbusinesses than those monitored by Reputology.com andwas randomly selected across the internet. Brought to You by Reputology.com
This data and analysis has been brought to you byReputology.com – a review monitoring andmanagement service.