I recently read a TechCrunch article about how OpenTable (the online restaurant reservation service) is linking up with Yelp (the user review, social networking site) to allow Yelp users to make restaurant reservations without having to leave the site.
Sure, this is convenient for the user. But what does this mean for the restaurant?
For the restaurant, any OpenTable reservation made from a Yelp account immediately tells that restaurant (if they are plugged in and paying attention) that they are about to be visited by a customer who has a network of followers…and is not afraid to share his opinion on his experience. After all, Yelp is a participatory site. Now everyone is a critic.
I can just see what is going to happen…
In walks Mark. He walks up to the hostess, tells them his name. The hostess enters his information into OpenTable. Up pops his information – including the size of his Yelp network. But the restaurant has already done their homework. They know Mark is coming, they know the size of his network. They know that he has a propensity to complain about slow service, empty wine glasses and messy bathrooms. They have set aside a window table with a beautiful view of the bay and they have placed him in their top server’s section. His night is set and perfection is on the mind of everyone. After all, they’re being watched. Preferential treatment is given. Everyone understands that if Mark’s evening goes well, his network will be sure to know. And if it doesn’t…
Ever since there has been restaurants, there has been critics. I personally have never met one, but from what the Food Network tells me (which is a lot) they wear large hats, use big words, like to mingle in street food and comment that certain cuts of meat can be “toothsome”.
But with he emergence of online communities now everyone has the opportunity to critique. And now you have the opportunity to manage it.
In what other industries can you see the management of customer critiques being beneficial?