Amongst restaurateurs and cafe owners – not to mention hotel owners – Tripadvisor is a highly controversial site. In our trade magazines such as the Caterer and Hotelkeeper, a mention of Tripadvisor will provoke an endless stream of ‘yours disgusted’ letters from restaurant owners who are certain that they have been targeted by local rivals who have posted fake & negative reviews about their business. And of course the reverse is also possible: there’s not much to stop me asking Aunt Mabel and Cousin Cuthbert to send in stonkingly good reviews of my cafes.
This sensitivity is partly a concern for the wellbeing of our businesses but more than that a negative review can feel like a personal attack. I don’t think that I’m unique in having been attracted to the cafe/restaurant business by the immediate feedback you get from customers who like what you do. If you’re an architect or a novelist you might have to wait years for someone to tell you that they like what you do – in my business you just have to serve your next really delicious squidgy chocolate brownie to get some positive feedback.
So currently my enthusiasm about Tripadvisor has reached new heights. Lownz, our chef at Michaelhouse who’s obviously a bit more web-aware than I am, said that I should take a look at recent reviews of the Michaelhouse Cafe on the site. I’ve just been doing that and I feel completely bowled over. There are clearly a lot of people out there who really like what we do – and like it enough to bother writing about it. I then looked up the reviews for All Saints and found the same story there. Hooray! Of course the moment will come when someone says something truly horrible about us and then it will be up there in the ether for ever and I will no doubt be writing my own ‘disgusted’ letters to The Caterer.
But for the moment I’m basking in the praise. Go and have a look yourself – search on Tripadvisor for Cafe @ All Saints, Hereford or Michaelhouse Cafe, Cambridge. And if you’ve visited one of the cafes and you want to add your own thoughts then go on…..and I’ll be brave and keep reading whatever you’ve got to say.