Online Reviews- Your Guest’s First Impression

Online Reviews- Your Guest’s First Impression
Sam Mustafa, CEO of Charleston Hospitality Group shares his insight on the importance of online reviews from top reviewing platforms such as Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp and Facebook.

It’s A Love-Hate Relationship
If your company is not paying attention to managing and responding to online reviews, it is time to make it a habit to incorporate this into your workforce’s daily work routine, especially if you’re in the industry of Food and Beverage. Online reviews are becoming your restaurant’s first impression and once someone adds comments about their experience on one of these platforms, they are there indefinitely, and are likely to influence those who have not been to your restaurant yet. Good ones are great! Bad ones are not – even down-right damning. These reviews have the power to make or break your success. Don’t believe me? Check out these facts by!

The Harm of Online Ratios Revealed
Consider these researched facts by Inc. Magazine before doubting the power of online reviews:

1) When customers are unhappy, there’s a 91 percent chance they won’t do business with a company again.4

2) Dissatisfied customers typically tell nine to 15 other people about their experience; some tell 20 or more.4

3) A negative customer experience is the reason 86 percent of consumers quit doing business with a company.4

4) Good customer experiences lead 42 percent of consumers to purchase again.4

Why Are Reviews So Important?
Online reviews offer user-generated content that allows users to describe their experience on a platform that is unfiltered. The user experience design on these platforms create an online forum that is both reputable and trustworthy.

According to the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, there are four main reasons why customers are motivated to read online reviews. They are as follows:

1) Risk Reduction: This is the area where competitive advantage comes into play. Buyers are always looking to purchase a service or product. Often these same buyers question completing the transaction because it may involve the risk of a loss and will look for external sources of validation before purchasing. These risk factors are perceived in order of importance. 2
(Importance from highest to lowest)

This relates to the quality and service of the product or service. What is the function and use of this purchase?

This relates to the perception of your family, friends and close circle. Will they validate or invalidate your purchase?

Is the price just right? Does the price of the purchase equate to the quality and function of this product/service?

Is this purchase good for your well-being? Does it fulfill your emotional and physical needs?
To lower these potential risk factors, prospect customers will look to online reviews for validation and insight from previous buyers. These online reviews become the next step to the question, “To buy or not to buy?” or in my company’s case, “To dine or not to dine?“. 2

2) Search-Time Reduction: The world has never been more infiltrated with information as it is now. Consumers are always sorting through information and when they are in search of a product or service, they want to know more information on it, and quickly. This is where the increasing popularity of online platforms such as Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor come into play. These platforms offer users the ability to view online reviews and sort through ones that reflect positively and negatively.2

3) Buyer’s Remorse: The dreaded buyer’s remorse! We have all purchased something, whether a service or a product and later realized that it was not the best decision. To limit this feeling, in relation to our industry, many prospective guests will utilize online reviews when deciding on a place to dine for a special occasion.2

4) Group Influence: What do others have to say? People are communal by nature and find reviewing platforms to be highly reputable. These reviews also provide a sense of validation and reassurance before one decides to spend their time and money at a certain place over another.2

Manage Your Company’s Reviews Daily- I get it! Managing reviews can be tedious and uncomfortable when unsatisfactory ones come through, but they can also be rewarding. Lots of different emotions can happen all at one time. One thing to understand is how important daily management of these reviews are. It could be the difference between loyal guests and “I’m never coming back again!”

Toast All Day TripAdvisor Accolades
When you understand your target audience, this provides an opportunity to provide an outstanding experience for your guests. This also provides the same chance to become better. Never be intimidated by online reviews. The worst that can happen is growth and understanding!

This past year, one of our restaurant’s, Toast All Day was announced the winner of their annual “Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best list” and was ranked in the top 25 as a ‘restaurant that hosts the weekend’s favorite meal.’

Winners are chosen just as the name suggests: the travelers’ choice. According to a press release by TripAdvisor, “The 2021 Best of the Best Restaurants Awards are calculated based on the quality and quantity of traveler reviews and ratings for restaurants on TripAdvisor collected from Jan. 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021.” This award is their highest recognition and is presented annually to those businesses that earn excellent reviews from travelers and are ranked in the top 1% of properties worldwide. What an accolade to be a part of! We can attest this great accomplishment has been possible due to efficient management of online reviews which allows us to understand our guests and continuously provide an experience that generates loyalty to our brand.

Tripadvisor Toast All Day

Sam Mustafa is the the CEO of Charleston Hospitality Group and Toast! All Day Franchise. Named one of the nation’s 100 most influential CEOs by Nation’s Restaurant News and frequent speaker on Joe Pardavila’s Podcast on ForbesBooks Radio. He has also been featured on Medium, Authority Magazine, describing his version of the American Dream. Sam is one of the leading voices in the Restaurant Industry.

  1. “Online Customer Reviews: Their Impact on Restaurants.” Hospitality News & Business Insights by EHL,
  2. Parikh, Anish & Behnke, Carl & Vorvoreanu, Mihaela & Almanza, Barbara & Nelson, Doug. (2014). Motives for reading and articulating user-generated restaurant reviews on Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology. 5. 10.1108/JHTT-04-2013-0011.
  3. Schwantes, Marcel. “In 4 Sentences, Elon Musk Gives Leaders His ‘Single Best Piece of Advice’.”, Inc., 11 Aug. 2021
  4. Thomas, Andrew. “The Secret Ratio That Proves Why Customer Reviews Are so Important.”, Inc., 26 Feb. 2018,,of%20a%20single%20negative%20review