Influences on Diner Decision-Making

More consumers than ever use and trust online review sites and social media for recommendations on where to eat – both at home and while traveling. Our latest survey examines the impact of today's most popular digital marketing channels and what factors influence diner decision making.


Today’s restaurant operators have a lot on their plates. Between dinner rush, managing employees, and calculating inventory, it's hard for owners to find time to market their business. And on top of that, the world of digital marketing is more complex than ever, making it increasingly difficult to pick where and how to invest scarce resources when attempting to efficiently reach the right customer.

In fact, in the 2017 Tripadvisor Restaurant Marketing Study, the majority of global respondents reported spending less than 10% of their time promoting their business.

But what online channels influence a customer to choose where to dine?

More consumers than ever use and trust online review sites and social media for recommendations on where to eat – both at home and while traveling. Recent surveys also show that restaurant operators overwhelmingly believe that managing their online reputation has become an essential part of running their business.

With this in mind, Tripadvisor’s latest survey examines the impact of today’s most popular digital marketing channels and what factors drive diners into a restaurant, inclusive of reviews, photos, and owner engagement with an increasingly mobile consumer.

The new CVENT survey, which analyzed the dining behaviors of more than 9,500 consumers across key markets in the US and Europe, revealed that Tripadvisor is overwhelmingly regarded as the most influential online dining resource compared to Google, Facebook and Yelp. See methodology below.

Tripadvisor: An Essential Dining Resource for Travelers and Locals

It’s no surprise that online reviews play a huge role in influencing consumer dining decisions. The vast majority of respondents reported basing a dining decision off of an online review, with up to 72% in some markets also noting they have been influenced by restaurant photos. Specifically, most respondents reported that Tripadvisor dining content has influenced them to try a new restaurant.

Online Reviews Influence Dining Decisions

Online Photos Influence Dining Decisions

Tripadvisor Inspires Diners to Try New Restaurants

The survey also found that diners, both locals and travelers, use Tripadvisor as a restaurant discovery site with the majority of respondents stating they have opted to dine at a restaurant as a result of a Tripadvisor ranking, review, rating or award.

Dining Decisions Based on Tripadvisor

Compared to other channels, Tripadvisor is a more trustworthy source and more directly influences a diner’s restaurant decision-making process. The majority of respondents across the US and Europe said they prefer to use Tripadvisor to choose a restaurant while at home, and similarly, up to 96% of respondents in some markets noted they use Tripadvisor when looking for a place to eat while traveling.

Sites Respondents Reported Using to Research Restaurants

At Home

While Traveling

Tripadvisor Dining Content is Trusted, Helpful, and Accurate

Respondents view Tripadvisor’s dining content as trusted and accurate, especially when compared to competitors. When compared with Google, Facebook, and Yelp, up to 94% of respondents in participating markets said that Tripadvisor provides the more accurate, trustworthy, helpful, and descriptive restaurant reviews and photos.

Reviews Matching the Dining Experience

Just 45% of respondents reported that Yelp reviews accurately matched the experience they had while dining out, followed by 31% of Google reviews and 18% of Facebook reviews.

Trustworthiness of Reviews by Site

The most trustworthy restaurant reviews

The most accurate restaurant reviews

The most helpful restaurant reviews and photos

The best selection of restaurant photos

Mobile Usage, Online Delivery, and Reservations are the New Normal

Diners are exhibiting behaviors that align with the "one-stop-shop" restaurant experience that is inherent within Tripadvisor’s mobile platform. With more than 450 million downloads of Tripadvisor’s app globally, millions of consumers are actively researching in-destination experiences on mobile devices.

In line with this trend, survey results reveal that diners are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to find restaurants while on-the-go, with up to 79% of respondents in some markets reporting that they regularly research restaurants nearby via their phones.

Additionally, the majority of respondents reported a desire to make reservations online and order food delivery both at home and while traveling. With over 245,000 reservable restaurants and over 65,000 restaurants with food delivery available on Tripadvisor, diners have the flexibility to find the perfect table or meal anytime, anywhere.

Reservations Online and Mobile Use

Reserving online

Ordering food online

Ordering delivery while traveling

Using a mobile device to search for a restaurant

The Growing Importance of Online Reputation Management

Responding to both positive and negative diner reviews can help you improve your restaurant’s service and ultimately attract new diners. In fact, up to 94% of respondents in some markets indicated that they have read a Management Response to a Tripadvisor review, with the majority noting that they found it helpful and that it encouraged them to try a restaurant, despite a bad review.

Reading Management Responses

Equally, restaurant owners and operators are emphasizing the value of their online reputation channels.

While the CVENT survey largely reviewed the influence of Tripadvisor amongst consumers, a separate study conducted earlier this year by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Tripadvisor demonstrates the value owners see in Tripadvisor.

According to Ipsos Mori, 90% of restaurateurs say that their online presence and reputation are important areas of focus within the next couple of years.

Just as consumers are going to Tripadvisor to find the right restaurant for them, owners are coming to the site to market their business, manage their reputation and target the right diners. Why spend money casting a wide net online if you are really trying to reach consumers who like sushi? There’s never been a better time to engage with potential guests on the site and app or reach the right consumers interested in your business – often walking down the street by your business, mobile device in hand, looking for the right place to dine.


The “Influences on Diner Decision-Making” survey leverages the findings of more than 9,500 international diners in Europe and the United States who participated in a May 2018 CVENT panel (US: 1,723; UK: 2,242; FR: 1,013; ES: 1,233; IT: 3,572). Respondents are consumers registered with Tripadvisor who agreed to complete company-sponsored surveys through CVENT. Consumers are not compensated or incentivized to participate.

The Ipsos Mori study was conducted in January-February 2018, with 1,005 restaurant owners across 6 markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States) who have previously claimed their listing on Tripadvisor.

Last Updated: June 4, 2018

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