Over the weekend I walked into a restaurant and noticed something really interesting on their wall. Where many individually owned eateries usually hang framed reviews or features from local newspapers, this restaurant had a framed review from Yelp. Specifically, it had the Yelp logo and one of the online reviews, which raved about the restaurant. This immediately made me wonder – what’s more influential these days, a good review on Yelp, or a review in the paper?
I had just returned from my 10-day honeymoon in Hawaii, where my wife and I used three factors to determine where to have our meals:
- Two guidebooks from Frommer’s (which were sent to me complementary thanks to a Twitter contest)
- Suggestions from locals
While Frommer’s was usually reliable, we ended up primarily using Yelp to make these decisions. This is because it provided us with a good idea of how many people went to the restaurant (based on how many reviews it had), how people liked the place (the number of stars) and specific suggestions (in the reviews and quick tips). It also had the website and map right there – basically everything we needed in one place. We read through reviews of each place, which offered great recommendations, and we found most of them to be spot-on.
For us, Yelp reviews were much more influential then a newspaper review. It contained feedback from many different people rather then one reporter, and allowed us to get a a wide range of unbiased feelings about the restaurant. I’m not saying a reporter would lie – but it’s a newspaper article is only based on one person’s perspective (as was Frommer’s) and didn’t always align with our experiences. More and more, as Yelp provided us with more accurate information that Frommer’s), we only used one factor in determining where to dine: Yelp.
So is Yelp more influential then a newspaper review? For me, the answer is yes. If I were to read a great newspaper review of a restaurant, I would still check it out on Yelp before going. Also – with restaurants and businesses now aware of Yelp’s power, they are beginning to focus more and more on their online reputations, often contacting unhappy customers (who write negative review) to fix problems (which they often note in their reviews).