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Restaurant deals site kills fake reviews
A new verification procedure put in place by the most popular restaurant deal site in the U.S. ensures reviews are only left by customers who have actually eaten in restaurants they review and focus on the dining experience.
Earlier this year, research from Eccomplished revealed that online reviews trump peer-to-peer word of mouth. They found that while 23% of online shoppers said they asked their family's and friends' opinion to help them make a purchase decision, significantly more (31%) turned to online product reviews or endorsements.
However, it's not always easy to tell if a review is genuine or not. Gartner analysts estimate that paid reviews will account for between 10% and 15% of online reviews by 2014. Cash, coupons and other incentives are offered in return for positive reviews and comments, 'Likes', and YouTube hits.
Users of Restaurant.com will no longer have to worry that a review has been paid for, or written by a staff member, advocate or sworn enemy of a venue.
By introducing Verified Diner Reviews, the deal site has dealt a swift blow to fake or bias reviews. From now on, diners are required to purchase a Restaurant.com certificate that must be verified by the restaurant before a review can be left.
Furthermore, reviews are kept focused on the food, ambiance and service, all those things that others searching for an eatery are interested in. Reviews that contain information additional to this, such as comments on a bad date or even those concerned with the deal itself, won't be published.
"Our stars are awarded by diners, not anonymous Web users, making Restaurant.com the place to go for honest feedback on where to eat," said Christopher Krohn, president and chief marketing officer, Restaurant.com.
Earlier this year, two economists at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed the relationship between online reviews and purchasing decisions, and discovered just how important online star ratings are to a restaurant's popularity and takings.
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