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1 in 4 people in Britain regularly access the internet from their mobile phone, yet many local services still fail to pay proper attention to their online image when viewed from a mobile.

A few years back people would be most likely to select a restaurant or a hotel from a guide or just from passing by, however now people will go direct to Google to locate and compare local restaurants before selecting one. It is therefore imperative that restaurants have a large number of customer reviews (hopefully positive!) as well as the official reviews published in guides – some of which are also drawn into your Google Places listing which will appear when people perform local searches from their mobile devices.

On the Google Places listing (the information published on the Google Map) there is not only the address, description and any relevant images, there are also a summary of reviews from major sites such as Tripadvisor. It is therefore more important than ever before to ensure that you have taken full control over the presentation of your business by Google.

The pro-active part of this process is the creation of profiles with rich imagery and complimentary, concise text. This can be likened to creating and distributing a brochure; it does work but people know it is advertising.

More important is the second phase – the re-active marketing. When people have a bad experience they shout much louder than when they are happy; it is therefore crucial that you know about this and work to calm the situation by responding. Many traditional businesses will refuse to participate in the conversation for fear of detrimental comments, however this is like a child closing their eyes and thinking that no one can see them; the conversation goes on regardless. However negative a comment is, a reply from you can nearly always diffuse the situation and in many cases has been shown to generate even greater customer satisfaction.

Whilst reputation and referral are still the most important elements of any restaurant or hotel’s marketing arsenal, they are needlessly missing out on potential business if they do not participate in the online community thoroughly and carefully.

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