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New technology experiment reveals the secrets to getting better restaurant reviews

10/05/2016

New technology experiment reveals the secrets to getting better restaurant reviews

According to the latest research, tidy dining areas and fresh bathrooms are more important than service to restaurant guests. During a visit to a restaurant, a guest looks at 7,000 details across all areas of the restaurant, and nine out of ten guests consider tidiness and cleanliness more important than service. These are some of the findings from a research initiative around restaurants and the guest experience carried out on behalf of professional hygiene brand, Tork. The initiative included a survey of 3,000 restaurant guests and a unique eye-tracking experiment devised to learn how a restaurant is perceived through the eyes of a guest.

“Every restaurant is different, but they all share a desire to create a memorable guest experience. We conducted this research so we can help our customers meet their customers’ expectations.” says Sid Takla, Executive General Manager, Tork® Professional Hygiene.

The results of the survey show that quality of food matters most, but the importance of the overall experience may be underestimated. Customers rank the food, a clean and tidy table, and fresh, sanitary bathrooms as the top three most important aspects of a restaurant. Over 50 per cent of those surveyed have shared photos taken at a restaurant on social media, of everything from food to table décor.

Another highlight from the findings is the importance of the roles of Interior design and tableware. Six out of ten respondents have high or very high expectations of these elements and eight out of ten think that restaurants should put more effort into the quality of the tableware. Guests also look carefully at the restaurant interior at large – studying many aspects ranging from everything from details of the ceiling to design furniture and flowers.

The details around food and beverage preparations in the kitchen are also intriguing for guests. Six out of ten respondents (61 per cent) appreciate open kitchens where they can see how the food is prepared and even more guests (67 per cent) appreciate that they can judge how clean and hygienic the kitchen is.

When it comes to the bathroom, nine out of ten think that it is important that the bathrooms maintain at least the same standard as the dining area. And the cleanliness of the bathrooms is the second most common aspect that guests are dissatisfied with when visiting restaurants. Here, the details also become important. High quality products such as toilet paper, paper towels and soap add to the experience for one in three respondents and six out of ten expect high quality bathroom products as standard.

The eye-tracking experiment used micro-cameras placed on the inside frame of connected eyeglasses, so every fixation of an eye could be measured. To map out a complete restaurant experience, guests were asked to complete three tasks while wearing the eye-tracking glasses:
- Have dinner at a table in the restaurant environment
- Have a drink by the bar in front of an open kitchen
- Wash their hands
The collected data was analysed and used to create visual heat-maps featuring guests’ attention and focus of interest. Watch a short film of the eye-tracking experiment here https://youtu.be/Cw8eoEScyxE

In the past, diners trusted published restaurant reviews and the word of mouth of friends. Today they seek out social media and the opinions of millions of people they’ve never met. There are now countless review sites, restaurant blogs, online booking sites with star ratings and infinite photos that have been shared and tagged. We know how important these reviews are for business – they can be ‘make or break’. And now we have greater understanding of the importance of all the details in the customer experience.