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Stars for food: Online restaurant evaluations under investigation

September 15, 2020

Ilona Pezenka, Senior Researcher at FHWien der WKW and Christian Weismayer, Assistant Professor and Senior Lecturer at MODUL University, examine more than 100,000 online evaluations of TripAdvisor in their current study.

Asian food, a steak or would you rather go to an Italian restaurant? Locals as well as visitors increasingly rely on online ratings when choosing a restaurant. Various comparison portals and online platforms offer their services. One of them – namely TripAdvisor – was recently examined by Senior Researcher Ilona Pezenka from FHWien der WKW and Christian Weismayer from Modul University. The results of their study have now been published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Locals tick differently than visitors

In the currently published study, Pezenka and Weismayer examined over 100,000 online restaurant reviews from locals and tourists on TripAdvisor in the Washington D.C. area. The evaluation criteria included food, drinks, service, price, payment, location and atmosphere. The central question was whether there is a difference in the composition and weighting of the individual evaluation criteria of a restaurant visit between locals and tourists. The results show that there is a clear difference between the ratings given by locals and visitors. For both groups the food is the decisive criterion for the evaluation, but locals are more critical and give a much more negative evaluation. In contrast, non-locals pay more attention to location, payment, menu, atmosphere and how busy the restaurant is. Staff is considered equally important by both groups.

Customer segmentation also for restaurant visitors

Based on the results, Pezenka and Weismayer recommend integrating the different motivations of the two target groups for a restaurant visit into the marketing communication. The aim is to focus on the quality, taste and presentation of the food and, especially for visitors, to emphasize contextual factors such as payment and location. The results of the present study can thus help destination marketing organizations (DMOs) as well as restaurant managers to better respond to the needs of the two target groups and thus ensure more customer satisfaction – and thus more “stars”.

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