yelpYelp.com is a social networking, user review and local search website. 

Yelp has a huge influence on the food and drinks industry with more then 54 million unique visitors every month.

It is worth your Irish Pub investing time into exploring this site.

Yelp is “focused on the reviewing experience” and fosters a community of highly engaged users who write reviews about restaurants, bars, and other types of local establishments.

Yelp tap into the “vocal minority” to provide content for the rest of us.

Sometimes this group of influential customers will have kind things to say about your restaurant and sometimes not.

Irish Pub owners can benefit from these reviews – if they gain a number of good reviews on Yelp.

Many times their Yelp profile can rank highly in the Google search results and be one of the first hits for ‘Irish Pub’ ‘Bar’ or ‘Restaurant’ in their city.

One example of an Irish pub with a high rating is Trinity Pub Yorkville, New York where the glowing reviews praise the staff and friendly atmosphere.

    • “Seems like the kind of place where everyone knows each others names. Kind of like a mini Cheers kind of place. If you are a fan of cream ales and stouts this is a good spot to relax and enjoy your drink.”
    • “Chris and Barry are the bartenders, and they make it a point for you to feel welcome and part of the bar. You will never get bad service. 

Single girls… make sure to flirt with Chris. If you are ever having a bad day or just want a party night he will keep you smiling with his Irish charm.”
    • “I haven’t been to Ireland, and I am obviously not a smidgen Irish, but still, I say that two times at the Trinity Pub is quite enough for me to judge the place as the epitome of what an Irish bar should be.”
    • “No one actually talks about being Irish, they just ARE. You don’t feel left out if you are not Irish or of Irish descent”

Many of the reviews cite their reason for trying the pub as other yelp reviews, but it is important to keep in mind that there are a significant amount more potential customers reading reviews then writing them.

In a time where people are bombarded by advertising, research has shown individuals trust opinions of their peers above marketing. This is especially poignant when reading the next review for Trinity Pub:

  • I took away a star because I frequently attend the Trivia Nights on Mondays where the winning team gets a $50 bar tab. Time and time again, the same group of people win Trivia Night and the interesting thing is they always come in together with the guy who writes all the questions. I thought that was a bit shady but I won’t blame the bar for this. Be wary; it is likely that your next Trivia Night experience could be rigged.

This review points out a specific problem, which could be resolved in a number of the following ways:

Don’t Ignore: online user reviews; they’re here to stay. So if you are involved with them, be proactive. Check the reviews, good and bad and don’t attempt to delete negative comments. The Streisand effect is an online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the perverse effect of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.

Stay Calm: if you receive a negative review. Give yourself a cooling down period. When someone is using a public forum like Yelp to attack something you’re business, a very natural reaction is to get emotional. Don’t. The last thing you want to do is overreact to someone online.

Make Contact: Every negative review should be engaged by a representative of your business. This will let the reviewer know you take their experience seriously. This should all be done in a positive manner, which also lets the reviewer know that you will do what is necessary to ‘right’ their unpleasant experience.

Respond (Privately) 
If you haven’t already, unlock your business listing on Yelp. One of the tools you’ll unlock is a free review response feature. Start out with a private diplomatic response:

    • Introduce yourself. (“Hi, It’s Eoin, the owner of Molly Malone’s…”)
    • Thank them for the review. (“Thank you for sharing your feedback…”)
    • Apologize. (“I’m deeply sorry you didn’t have a 5-star experience…”)
    • Acknowledge their complaint, and explain what you’ve done to address the problem.
    • Don’t be too defensive. As tempting as it is to try to convince reviewers to see things from your vantage point, it’s easy to come off as dismissive of their accounts.

Invite them to return. (“We hope you’ll consider joining us again… Here’s my direct contact information if you do…”)

Respond (Publicly) 
If the reviewer doesn’t change their review after you’ve apologized privately, and there’s something flagrantly inaccurate within that review, write a short public response to correct the facts. (i.e. “Amanda mentioned the bar closes at 10:00 PM, but we actually close at midnight.”).

While only constituting 17% of Yelp, 1- and 2-star reviews seem to receive disproportionate attention, therefore you shouldn’t view the public comment feature as an opportunity to nitpick at slight inaccuracies within a review; instead, it’s a chance to demonstrate to would-be customers that you’re on top of your customer service. Remember, the overwhelming numbers of people who are on Yelp right now are reading reviews, not writing them. Approach each public comment with caution, because if something is miscommunicated by you, other potential customers will be able to read it. Getting your ‘side of the story out’ isn’t as important as demonstrating you can keep your cool when problems arise and that you care about customer feedback.

Share both positive feedback as well as legitimate critiques with staff and management to boost employee morale and make improvements to your food, service and/or operation.Yelp is a tool to access your customer base and know what they really think about you.