When choosing a restaurant, the usual suspects help determine a customer's ultimate decision: the proximity of the restaurant, the time available to dine (a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal) and the type of cuisine desired. However, there are handful of critical other drivers that heavily impact our choice of restaurant, that can be be summed up by the way a restaurant makes us feel

In the last 5 years, there have been heavy studies into "restaurant choice drivers," i.e. the factors that drive people to choose a restaurant or not choose a restaurant. 

The 9 primary restaurant choice drivers have been identified as: 

  1. Food
  2. Consistency
  3. Service
  4. Environment
  5. Reputation
  6. Convenience
  7. Value
  8. Innovation, and
  9. Family Friendliness

While all important to factor into the running of your business, they are not all equal in the way they impact the decision making process. Some matter more than others.

In the diagram below, the y-axis lists the 9 different choice drivers. These are ordered by impact or importance from left to right, with food and consistency being the most important, and family friendliness the least important.

What this tells us is that even if a restaurant's interior wasn't the newest ("Environment"), people would still keep coming if the staff are great ("Service"). Or, that people are willing to pay a bit more in exchange for smaller servings ("Value") if a restaurant has a great rating or reviews ("Reputation"). Taste and consistency are, above all, the most important factors for return customers.

At AreTheyHappy, we have added a 10th choice driver, one that is subliminal, though nonetheless critical: "Experience," i.e. how the restaurant has made the person feel. This is shown in the very right-most column in the graph below.


For tagging purposes, these can be used for reviews that look like these (blank or single word reviews on Google or TripAdvisor):

An AreTheyHappy user, would then tag the message using the green tag, below:

All of your tags throughout the day / week / month are calculated in AreTheyHappy's data warehouse.

💪Pro-Tip: It's important to tag as you complete messages because it's makes it easier to study your results at the end of the week/month, and share them with the team or management. (See the 3 examples below.)

In this first "widget," good tagging means you see the general sentiment that people have, as measured against the choice drivers. Then, in the middle widget, you see what themes were most talked about by your customers, i.e. for this restaurant the overall experience, food, service, environment and value were the hot topics. Finally, the last widget on the right, shows you where your customers are most active. For this restaurant, the most important channels are Google and Tripadvisor.

In this graph, good tagging means, you can count the number of tags and see the positive and negative sentiment for each particular choice driver.


In this table, consistent tagging means you can see the evolution of specific tags. 35 people reported having a positive "Experience" in the establishment below. This is down 10 compared to the previous period.

Finally, the Tags Deep-Dive section allows you to view your applied tags in a top down approach, starting on a category level and drilling down all the way to the actual posts. 

A 5-star Yelp review posted by Nikki P. has been tagged using "Innovative" tag under the Innovation restaurant choice driver.

Hope you found this useful! :) 

Let us know if you have further questions, concerns or suggestions. 

Feel free  to reach out to us via email at [email protected] or by clicking the little support chat box on the lower right side of your screen. 🙌We really appreciate our AreTheyHappy community, and your ongoing feedback! ️

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