Electronic meal experience: a content analysis of online restaurant comments

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242 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents a content analysis of 2,471 customer comments regarding three hundred London restaurants on an online restaurant guide. Favorable comments far outnumbered negative reviews. The study’s chief purpose was to identify the factors that are most salient in a guest’s evaluation of a restaurant. Although food is established as the king of the meal experience, as found in other studies, the starter is cited as a highly memorable item in many consumers’ comments. A preference structure model emerges suggesting that customers consider food, service, ambience, price, menu, and decor (in that order) when reflecting on their experiences. Contrary to expectations, the model remains relatively constant when tested in times of economic plenty and economic crisis. Depending on how management monitors and responds to them, comments on electronic guides and in social media can destroy a restaurant or help secure the business’s longevity. Restaurant managers who respond successfully to comments in electronic forums can turn an unsatisfied customer to a loyal one. The study provides a comparison of comments made during times of favorable economic conditions and times of economic recession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-491
Number of pages9
JournalCornell Hospitality Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date11 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Nov 2010


  • restaurant management
  • consumer satisfaction
  • online consumer guides
  • word of mouth
  • referrals
  • social media
  • Alexa.com
  • www.london-eating.co.uk


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