I do it all the time whenever I visit new places and am in need of inspiration on the best spots to eat and drink. I get straight onto TripAdvisor, check out the “Top 10”, and feel pretty chuffed with my extensive research. But opening a restaurant in the past 12 months and seeing the fun and games going on has made me have a serious rethink.
Luckily the vast majority of feedback we’ve received has been great. We’re also building up a decent local fan base, so things are going well. But I’m a sensitive flower, and the negative feedback really bugs me, especially when it’s the absolute opposite of constructive criticism.
UK’s “Moan-Up” Culture
First up is having a restaurant in the UK. It’s a cultural thing I guess, but if you’re happy with something then great, that’s the way it should be. You’re not going to rush onto the internet to tell everyone, but you’ll be happy enough to come back at some point. Fair enough. But if anything is slightly wrong?? Now then! Someone’s going to get it!
That someone isn’t usually the staff. You don’t tell them, you keep quiet, say everything is fine, leave quietly smiling, then you’re back home and onto anyone and everyone possible to vent. It’s a nightmare for restaurants and bars because they’ve got no way of rectifying the problem at source.
But I just don’t get it?! You have a shit night and the restaurant gets a bad review. You both lose! What are you hoping to achieve? Just say something at the time next time. If they still don’t sort it, then fine, slate away!
Keep Your Enemies Closer
The restaurant trade is super competitive, especially in a small area like ours is. Luckily there’s enough local trade to go around, and we’re doing a very different thing to others, so we’re not nicking anyone’s clientele as such.
But that’s not stopped us catching one or two local restaurants red-handed putting negative comments on our site without having ever visited us. They’re after the “best in the street” so a couple of shitty statements on our account helps them out. I was gobsmacked when it happened first up, but I’ve been told it’s really common apparently. What can you say?
Money Makes the World Go Round
We’ve also been inundated in the last few weeks from services offering us favourable reviews in exchange for cash. Not only that, they will also post negative reviews on our neighbours. Nice, huh?
Of course this was always going to happen with a service like TripAdvisor or BookATable reviews, and it’s hard to criticize them in particular because I’m not sure what they can do to stop it.
But it’s certainly made me think twice about how far to trust it all, that’s for sure.
Check out La Ferme Primrose Hill for yourselves anytime. Better yet, give me a shout before you head down and I’ll try be there to say hi 😉