Getting a Michelin Star May (Slightly) Hurt Your Online Reviews
A new study released by a group of Portuguese researchers shows that getting a Michelin star will likely hurt your online reviews and potentially impact your bottom line.
Researchers from Nova University, Lisbon have analyzed 8,871 reviews published on TripAdvisor from 87 restaurants located in Europe. They conducted a sentiment analysis on the collected data and concluded that service, food, and ambiance were reviewed less favorably after a restaurant received a new Michelin star (either the first, second or third).
Surprisingly, the only thing that actually improved was the perception about price. Patrons will less likely complain about pricing if the restaurant has been awarded a new Michelin Star.
Service, food, and ambiance were reviewed less favorably after a restaurant received a new Michelin star.
What is the explanation for all this? Getting a new Michelin star will increase customer expectations and customers are more likely to become frustrated if their (high) expectations are not met. And, as we all know, frustrated customers are also more likely than happy customers to leave an online review.
The analysis shows that the overall (positive) sentiment towards restaurants that have received a new Michelin star decreased by 4.8%. The largest decrease was seen for restaurants that earned a second Michelin star, where the sentiment dropped 5.71%, while restaurants that earned their first Michelin star saw their sentiment drop by 5%. The smallest drop was for 3-starred Michelin restaurants (i.e. former 2-starred restaurants), where the sentiment dropped by a mere 0.80%.
Interestingly, when it comes to review scores, there was no noticeable change. Close to 88% of reviewers gave the restaurants 4 or 5 stars, with the average rating being 4.5 stars. Despite the drop seen in sentiment analysis, the average rating remained unchanged at 4.5 stars.
In other words, people will complain a bit more in the comments section about service and food after a restaurant earns a new Michelin star, but they will give the restaurant the same overall rating.
Of the analyzed sentiments, food (41.4%) and service (40.5%) were the most mentioned, followed by ambiance (11.4%) and price (6.8%).
Getting a new Michelin star will increase customer expectations and customers are more likely to become frustrated if their (high) expectations are not met.
Now, before we jump to the wrong conclusions, the authors of the paper do concede that earning a Michelin star is usually good for business, making a restaurant more competitive especially with international tourists.
Nevertheless, based on their findings, online reviews do suffer a bit due to increased expectations given the recognition and quality assurance associated with the Michelin Guide. When these expectations are not met, people turn to online platforms to voice their frustrations.
Thus, they urge chefs and restaurant owners who have recently won a new Michelin star to further emphasize their culinary creativity and use new culinary techniques and unique ingredients. Put differently, don’t sleep on your laurels – keep innovating.
Read the full research paper here.