Yorkshire is blessed with some truly brilliant places to go out for a meal, including what has been dubbed the best fine dining restaurant in the world in the form of The Black Swan at Oldstead.
But now The Black Swan’s renowned chef Tommy Banks has lifted the lid on a widespread problem affecting everyone in the hospitality industry from local pubs to those boasting Michelin stars.
Mr Banks explained how his restaurant has, not for the first time, essentially been blackmailed with the threat of a bad online review unless a customer was let off a cancellation charge which was part of the booking conditions.
His comments come after research by the British Hospitality Association found 85 per cent of British hotels and restaurants have fallen victim to malicious and fake online reviews.
However in general, online reviews are extremely useful for both consumers and businesses; highlighting the best-performing restaurants and providing a form of hugely-effective free advertising for those who do their jobs well. Indeed, The Black Swan’s accolade as the world’s best last year was based on TripAdvisor ratings.
There is no simple solution to tackling those blackmailing businesses with bad reviews. While companies have a right to reply and explain the truth, busy restaurateurs should not be having to spend their time fire-fighting false accusations. But there needs to be an acceptance amongst customers that if you sign up to pay a cancellation charge and then leave an empty table – with the implications that has for a restaurant’s income – you should honour the agreement you made.