Andrew Zimmern thinks Yelp is useless. The host of “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” on the Travel Channel offered an alternative to looking up restaurants on Yelp in an interview with Business Insider.
His issue with the review site is that it crowdsources a lack of expertise. Instead of relying on trusted advisors or experts to recommend the best restaurants or other local businesses, you’re relying on people who have no expertise in this area. So as an alternative, Zimmern says that he identifies chefs and foodies in the area he’s going to visit and then searches their social media accounts for thoughts on the best local spots.
This doesn’t mean that Yelp is actually useless for food businesses. There are plenty of people who look at online reviews before making dining decisions. But it does mean that Yelp isn’t the only thing you should consider when marketing your restaurant to local consumers.
Some businesses have taken their reliance on Yelp to new levels — even paying for fake reviews on the site, which is never a good idea. Instead, it could be a good strategy to take Zimmern’s advice into account and focus a little more on influencer marketing and hope that positive reviews also follow.
To do this, you can network with some popular food bloggers, chefs or other foodies in your community and encourage them to share their thoughts about your restaurant online. Then ideally, this could help you attract some new customers who are likely to really appreciate the quality of your restaurant or local business. And maybe they’ll even leave you some positive reviews on Yelp.
Andrew Zimmern Photo via Shutterstock
I have a better alternative, I’ll just follow your posts Andrew and you do all the leg work!
I’m totally nonplussed and a little offended at that. Tell Andrew that I review every new restaurant I visit on Yelp and on Google Maps and on one or two other sites and that I do so precisely because of my decade or so of restaurant experience. I’m sure I’m not the only one who washed dishes and bused and waited tables and prepped and cooked and bartended their way through their education and beyond. I go to Yelp because I can tell good restauranting from bad and I think other people should know. Andrew’s in the business of promoting the restaurant industry as a whole. I’m okay with that. Having traveled the planet, I’m proud of America’s restaurant industry. But just because Yelp has taken down some restaurants that deserved it and maybe hurt a few that didn’t doesn’t mean it’s legit to write off all Yelpers as lacking expertise. That’s just not true. Yelp performs an invaluable service (and maybe even more so some of the other review sites). Restaurants should be constantly scrutinized, if for no other reason than public health.