6 Best Practices When Responding to Restaurant Reviews

85% of TripAdvisor users are more likely to dine at a restaurant that responds to reviews. Here are some tips on how to craft the best Management Response.

It's important to think about reviews as both real-time feedback about your business and as a critical marketing tool. Potential diners scroll through your reviews to determine what your restaurant experience is like — essentially an online version of word-of-mouth. An average of 90% of respondents said that the reviews on TripAdvisor matched their dining experience in a recent survey.

Responding Makes a Difference

Regardless of the positive or negative nature of a review, your response makes a difference.

In a recent survey, we found that 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. And 65% of users agree that a thoughtful Management Response to a bad review improves their impression of the restaurant.

Think about it this way. If a diner sent back a dish because it wasn’t up to standards, you would go out of your way to improve their experience at your restaurant so that you can turn around the situation and wow the customer. That’s when your hospitality matters — when you go out of your way to make things right, you’re showing them how deeply you care about their experience.

You have that same power with a Management Response to an online review. Whether the review cites positive or negative feedback, it’s your chance to create that same moment of hospitality and show them you care about their experience. Here are six things to keep in mind as you respond to reviews:

How to Respond to Reviews

Start With a Thank You

Always thank your guests for coming in and trying out your restaurant, even if they’re regulars. Showing your gratitude for coming in underlines the hospitality you offer in-person. It’s the equivalent of your host thanking them on their way out the door.

It doesn’t take much — a concise response will do. Here’s a great example from the Tip Tap Room in Boston, responding to a 5-bubble review from a traveler:

“So glad to hear you enjoyed your dinner here, Treesha! Thanks for checking us out and taking the time to share. Hope to see you again if you're ever back in town!”

If the review is less positive, thank them instead for coming in and for taking the time to share feedback. Here’s a second example from the Tip Tap Room, responding to a 3-bubble review that contained a noise complaint:

Thanks for sharing! We always appreciate honest feedback, and it does indeed get pretty lively in here. Glad to hear you enjoy[ed] the drinks!”

Show Diners You’re Listening

Most of the time, when someone posts a review to TripAdvisor, they want to be heard — so make sure that you’re listening. Acknowledging and echoing the feedback you’ve received in your response — positive or negative — shows that you care about what people are saying and that you’ve actually heard what they wanted to share.

Take this example from Papi Henri in Paris, responding to a 5-bubble review thanking the restaurant for explaining the menu to their party, who didn’t speak French:

“Many thanks for your post. It was a pleasure to translate our daily menu to you (hope my accent was not to difficult to understand :). We really hope to see you next time you are around. We wish you the best!”

Use Keywords in your Favor

When you respond to a review, you’re adding to the discourse about your restaurant. When someone is searching for your restaurant or restaurants like yours on Google, the reviews people write — and your responses — show up in search results. In your Management Response, be aware of the words you’re using.

So while it’s great to echo the feedback that your diners give you, think about what keywords you use and whether or not you want those words associated with your restaurant. If you’re known as a family-friendly restaurant, for instance, reiterate that in your Management Response.

Take this example from Copas y Tapas in Helsinki responding to a 4-bubble review that was overwhelmingly positive, but they mentioned that it wasn’t exactly what they were expecting:

“Thank you for your review. I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit.

We are aware that the name of the restaurant can be a bit misleading nowadays, and I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. We originally set out to open a restaurant around wine and tapas, but over the years the concept has evolved to a more gastronomic style and a full menu based on local and seasonal ingredients. The change is not a recent one, but rather a continuous process that has taken years to find its current form.

Thank you once more for your visit!”

Be Positive, Professional, and Courteous

While a negative review can be incredibly frustrating, it’s important to adopt the “customer is always right” mentality in your Management Response. Apologize for what the customer disliked and be sure to note that if it was an unusual occurrence so that future customers know that’s not what your brand is truly about.

Here’s a great example from James Hook and Company in Boston responding to someone who was a little disappointed about a lobster roll. They highlighted what they’re known for, acknowledged their shortcomings mentioned in the review, and asked politely for another chance:

“We're sorry if any of our staff seemed short with you on your visit, Sheila. We want you to feel welcome in our place, and you shouldn't feel rushed when deciding on your order. It's disappointing you didn't enjoy the lobster roll. As a proud member of the Boston community since 1925, we'd never want to be considered a tourist trap. We build our rolls the classic way, with only a touch of mayo and celery, and believe the quality of fresh lobster in every roll reinforces our price point. We hope you give us another chance the next time you're in town.”

Be Human

Being professional and courteous doesn’t mean you have to sound like a robot. Don’t be afraid to be friendly and open, just as you would in person, and remind them who you are. Take this response to a 5-bubble review at Nue in Seattle:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to review us! If I remember correctly, I might have served your group. We're thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your experience and are planning to visit again. Until then, hope you're enjoying your holidays, and Happy 2016!”

When it comes to a negative review, make sure you respond as yourself and what you personally are doing to rectify the situation. Take this example from the Lounge and Bar in Hong Kong. They thanked them for reviewing, acknowledged the feedback, and made it clear that they were personally addressing those concerns to the larger staff. They even went above and beyond and included specific contact information for when this reviewer returns in the future to make sure they have the best experience.

“Many thanks for taking the time to review the Lounge and Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

I am sad to read that although you enjoyed the view and apple pie, the rest of your experience were not up to your expectations for which I would like to offer my sincerest apologies. At The Ritz-Carlton we constantly strive to ensure the food and drinks offered and also service is kept to a high standard. Following your comments I will be personally addressing these issues with the Lounge and Bar team to ensure that we provide a 5 star experience to all our guests.

We do hope your experience will not deter you from coming back to The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong where we hope to offer you a much heightened experience. I would highly recommend our Dom Perignon Brunch served on Sundays at Ozone, the highest bar in the world, 16 floors higher than the Lounge and Bar.

Please contact our Lounge and Bar manager Mr. Philip Howard (Email address below) when you are returning to visit us so that we can ensure you have the best experience.”

Invite Them to Come Back

Regardless of the type of review, make sure to invite them back! That’s the best way to turn your first-time guests into regulars, or to make sure travelers remember you when they’re back in town. Here’s an example from Nikolai’s Roof in Atlanta that’s short and to the point:

“Hi, Thank you for writing a review and highlighting your favorites. I will make sure our Chef Stephanie sees your wonderful compliments on her food. Hope to see you again soon.”

If they mentioned a particular dish or type of cuisine you offer, make sure to let them know in your response if you’re running a special event or discount around that type of food. If you offer a seafood special on Mondays, for example, or serve a particular dish seasonally, you could highlight this information for other diners reading your response.

How to Post a Management Response on TripAdvisor

Now that you know what to say, responding to a review is easy:

  1. Log in to the Management Center. If you haven’t already claimed your listing, you can do so here.
  2. Choose “Respond to Reviews” under the “Reviews” tab.
  3. From there, you’ll be able to look at every review you’ve received. You can filter them by bubble rating, title, and whether or not you’ve already responded to them.
  4. Type your response into the text box, choose your business role for your signature, and press the orange “Submit” button.
  5. Your response will then appear below the review.

Claim your listing or log in to the Management Center to start responding to your latest reviews.

Claim your listing or log in to the Management Center to start responding to your latest reviews.

Last Updated: August 6, 2018