Social Media Helping Me Find Dinner!

Thoughts By 8 years ago

The other night we were trying to decide where to go for dinner.

Chapel street was the closest, but we go there all the time so were in desperate need of something new. I got on my i-phone opened urbanspoon and shook it up.

After looking through a couple of places we found a restaurant that served middle eastern food, just behind Jam Factory. I had remembered seeing shishas once out the front of the restaurant but had never heard anything about it.

After much debating about whether we should go there for dinner I decided that we would let the online reviews guide our decision.

There were some good ones and some bad and then we stumbled across someone who was less than impressed – even going so far as saying they were served “water logged rice with no flavour”. Gross!

This was one disgruntled customer… my ever conflicting views on how much I listen to what I read on the internet – is this someone who just likes to have a whinge – or are they genuinely sharing their less than impressive experience??? Most importantly am I going to risk missing out on what may be an awesome meal because of what a complete stranger says?? Or will I go there and know exactly what this peeved on customer was talking about???

Then I was impressed as I scrolled down to a post labeled “Apology” it was from the owner of the restaurant. There were no excuses, no explanations just a genuine apology, addressing the problem and plausible ways he had addressed it.

I was sold, and off we went. The service was great, the food was great and at the end of the meal we were offered a card that offered us something like $25 off our next meal if we went to a list of selected sites and wrote a review on our experience.

I liked it, don’t sell to me through social media, I don’t care. Don’t scan my emails and find key words to spark off advertisements. Don’t make my dad accidently click on advertisements as he tries his hardest to navigate his way around the site.

But definitely ask for my opinion (and even give me a discount if I chose to take the time to share it) and listen to what I say whether it be bad or good, and better yet do something about it.

  • I think more often than not, people are more likely to give a venue a poor review over a shining one. Thats why I like the Urbanspoon model where the basic review is limited to “I liked it!” or “I didn’t like it”.

    What if you have had a bad day at work, you are stressed and irratable and go to a restaurant with a new waiter who messes up your order. On a normal day you may feel sorry for the waiter, or be more lenient. But today you are irratable, and the waiters small error translates to a scathing review of the venue. It doesn’t seem entirely fair that what could be a great restaurant may loose business (a lot of it these days) as a result. There must be thousands of restaurant with poor user reviews on social media that are completely unaware of why business has dropped 10 fold in 2 years, as they haven’t seen the bad review.

    At the same time, peer reviews are very important to my purchasing decisions. So if I have had a bad day and left a crappy review, its up to my peers to add their opinions, and the restaurant to provide a public response – what a great way to market a restaurant!

  • I really don’t pay any attention to reviews on these sorts of sites. Yes, I use the net to find places to eat and drink, but it stops there. Basically due to a major question at the centre of wide-scale social interaction: People are idiots. I don’t like them. I don’t like their opinions.

    If you look at successful social media sites, they rely on networking either people already known to each other, or people who have certain knowledge or skills with others – essentially an in-built vetting system.

    The one exception to this is specialist review blogs – I can find someone whose words and opinion I feel i like, and then i will listen to it – but once again, it has been vetted by me.

    For all I know, on most wide-scale review sites, ‘Foodie83’ might put 17 stars next to his review, but he may also drink Pure Blond, but there’s no way I can find this out.

  • Listening to a single reviewer defeats the purpose, same way reading The Age epircure critic review is a single perspective, and judging by “It was steamed and rolled with shreds of sea cucumber, mushroom and coriander, and topped with a light, yet deeply flavoured, abalone-based sauce. It was silken and gorgeous.” – I have found you a pure blonde connoisseur 😉

    So when 15 people say they got food poisening at an eatery, or 35 people tell me the gyoza at Kanpai are pretty special, i will pay attention.

  • claire

    Josh I think you’re right – opinions can be biased – but isn’t that the point? And really it’s a catch 22 because your mood/day/attitude will probably effect how you read that review too.

    Simon in terms of people being stupid – I’ve got nothing…

    Specialist reviews I’m not so sure about – I think there is a point to how much you’re previously agreed with the “specialist” but I also find that sometimes a specialist is difficult to understand and less relatable, sometimes by being an expert at something you can be quite removed from a non-expert and therefore your experience may be completely different – what I mean is specialist food critics may be looking for completely different things than my mates and I are looking for when we go out for dinner.

    There is also another thing that I struggle with peer reviews. In my opinion it is likely that we will be far more eager to make the effort to go online and complain about something than we will to say how great something is, so is this really a true reflection of the majority of peoples experience at a venue – or just the small subset who have been peeved off and are technologically savvy?