Anyone who has ever Googled the name of a restaurant, hotel, or other type of attraction has probably seen listings for these sites come up: Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Urban Spoon, and countless others. Patrons of almost any establishment these days have the option to go online and review their visit. Was the service attentive? Was the food good? Was the location clean? Were the products good quality? Was it a good value? The reviews are then cataloged and averaged, and they are posted online for anyone to read, provided they meet the particular site’s regulations.

I’ll be honest, I have used these sites occasionally. TripAdvisor in particular helped me plan some of my outings on a vacation to San Francisco, and I have submitted reviews of various places I have visited as well. If I see a recent negative review, particularly of a restaurant, I will admit that I am probably less likely to put that restaurant at the top of my list.

Of course, in most cases, a person is only going to take the time review an establishment if they have a really excellent experience or a really terrible experience. So my question is, are these review sites really that useful? We are looking at the extremes, so does that really reflect what the vast majority of patrons are experiencing at these places? What are your thoughts?

While these sites can be great tools, please keep in mind that when you are mystery shopping, ALL of the information about your visit must remain confidential. If you complete a mystery shop and then also post something about your visit on any type of review site, that is a very serious breach of confidentiality. Remember that you should not be sharing ANY information about your visit with anyone but the mystery shopping company who assigned it to you. Happy shopping!