Do you ever find yourself in a bad mood when the weather is nasty? Well, that bad weather may also lead to an increased likelihood of leaving negative restaurant reviews.
Researchers at the Ohio State University Hospitality Management program conducted a series of studies that uncovered the relationship between weather and negative restaurant reviews.
“Restaurant managers may see more than the usual bad reviews on certain days, and it may have nothing to do with the service or the quality of the food,” said study co-author, Milos Bujisic.
“Restaurants can’t control the weather, but it may affect how customers review them.”
Weather isn’t the most important factor in how customers perceive their restaurant experience, but it does appear to have an influence.
“It may be a smaller factor, but it is something that managers should pay attention to,” say Vanja Bogicevic, one the study’s other co-authors.
And it’s not just rain that makes customers cranky. The researchers examined 14 different weather variables. They found three that appeared to impact customer comments: rain, temperature and barometric pressure.
However, the last factor, barometric pressure, may be related to the location of the study. In this study, the researchers analyzed the comments left at restaurants in Florida. High barometric pressure typically indicates favorable weather in most locales. However, in Florida, high pressure is often associated with higher temperatures which were correlated to a higher propensity to leave negative comments.
Further studies have helped to better explain the relationship between weather and negative restaurant reviews. As you might expect, it isn’t actually the weather itself that leads to the negative perception. Instead, it appears that the weather influences customers’ moods and that is what influences their perceptions.
But it’s not just customers. Bad weather can put restaurant staff and servers in a bad mood as well. This can lead to poorer service which, in turn, may impact customers’ comments.
“A rainy day may put employees in a bad mood and that will affect their service,” Bujisic said. “Managers need to explain that to their employees and work to keep them motivated.”
Combating Negative Restaurant Reviews
You might think that you are simply at the mercy of the weather. But the researchers suggest that there may be strategies to help mitigate the influence of the weather on customers’ perceptions.
“Think about creative strategies to make customers happy. Maybe offer a free drink or play more upbeat music,” Bogicevic said.
While the quality of the food and service remain most important, these studies again show that outside factors play a role in how your restaurant is perceived. It is similar to the effect of how having a unique dining experience can positively influence a customer’s perception of their food.
Managers need to be aware of these types of factors and sensitize their staff as well. What could be seen as just average service on a nice weather day could lead to a negative review when the weather turns poor. According to these studies, customers were 2.9 times more likely to leave negative reviews on rainy days.
Rain, rain, go away indeed.