There are plenty of factors that can affect online reviews: Customer experience, prices, or even just the quality of your product or service. But what about the weather? Can bad weather result in poor online reviews?
Scientists from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs report that restaurants receive significantly better online reviews on days with nice weather. Rainy or cold days often lead to poor reviews. Lead researcher Saeideh Bakhshi told the Georgia Tech News Center:
“People love to describe themselves as foodies. But in the end, it looks like we’re all weather people, whether we realize it or not. The best reviews are written on sunny days between 70 and 100 degrees. Science has shown that weather impacts our mood, so a nice day can lead to a nice review. A rainy day can mean a miserable one.”
The results are from a study covering a period of 10 years and looking at 1.1 million reviews on sites including Foursquare, Citysearch and TripAdvisor. The study also covers restaurants in more than 32,000 cities across the country.
The study also found that other factors including education and even geographical location tend to affect the number of online reviews restaurants receive. But these factors didn’t seem to impact the kind of reviews customers were writing.
Population density also had some peculiar effects on the kinds of online reviews customers tended to write. For example, in large busy cities, customers seemed more tolerant of long wait times. While pace of service seemed more important to customers in smaller cities studied. Customers in larger busier cities also tend to rate restaurants with takeout higher while those in smaller cities preferred those with deliver service.
So how does this help restaurant owners who can’t control the weather or — in most cases — the population density of the city in which they operate?
Well, apparently the authors of the study hope the information will serve as an education for both consumers and online review sites.
Researcher Eric Gilbert, assistant professor for the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech explains:
“Our findings could help consumers better understand online reviews and ratings and help review sites calibrate recommendations. Outside factors apparently introduce bias in online ratings of a highly reviewed restaurant in big cities compared to a similar place in a rural area.”
Meanwhile, for the ordinary small restaurant owner, the lesson is simple. While great customer service should certainly be your aim every day of the week, you may want to try that much harder on rainy days. Your customers may appreciate it.
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