One more night in Venice, and I have been struck repeatedly not only on this trip but over the past few years how much restaurants and to only a slightly lesser degree hotels (esp in Europe) want you to write a good tripadvisor review. I am regularly given cards to do so. As one of their Top Contributors, I know 'I count', which is not how I feel with airlines or hotel chains anymore.
For four straight days I have been given restaurant cards with tripadvisor info on it. Today I went to a restaurant and was almost rude (well, almost -- polite is my default so my rude is many people's very pleasant) as I considered going in. I noticed a tour group in the rear and my past experience with places where tour groups go has not been good. I spoke in Italian to the man trying to get me in and told him about le mie esperienze con i gruppi. He then assured me that I would be treated like an honored guest. At that point I asked him if his fish was really good (I never do this kind of thing!). Also I was well dressed. Finally I said okay and he gave me my choice of all the non-group space. I was immediately treated to a complimentary spritz. I ordered gamberoni fritti (lightly fried jumbo shrimp) as a first course and grilled astice (lobster). You'd think a Mainer wouldn't order lobster in Venice, but it is absolutely delicious -- every time I have it here. I will post my photos on tripadvisor (as ProfT) of Il Trovatore when I get home, but either the owner or proprietor came over with his ICamera and took a photo of the enormous lobster plate (with me in the photo, unfortunately). I fear I will displayed for years to come, even though the lobster was much more attractive. I was also much more comfortable when first an Italian couple came in and then a group of gondoliers (if you want to know if a place has good food, look for gondoliers). Everything was amazing from then on in -- the food delicious, the service great, (the group even left early), and when I had successfully shown my Maine skills on the lobster and finished it I was once again given a complimentary sgroppina as I was at Al Fontego.
Before I left everyone all the staff of the restaurant shook my hand and thanked me, gave me the tripadvisor card, and then added a 15% discount card for all future meals at the restaurant since I come to Venice often.
I have seen this Tripadvisor phenomenon at almost all restaurants in Europe -- so we still do have some power left!; servi
It's funny because tripadvisor keeps telling me to rate things nearby in Maine -- but I never go to them! But ask me about almost anywhere in Europe and I can comment extensively. I've gotten to be a Top Contributor and most of my audience seems to be outside the US (although I always write in English).
But trust me, in Europe, EVERY restaurant and many if not most hotels, count on tripadvisor reviews. I have no idea why it hasn't caught on as much in the US. Even though I didn't initiate today's Tripdadvisor comment, when I asked I volunteered that I was a top contributor...and wow...that's when I got the handshakes, the permanent coupon for discounts, etc.
You also see Tripadvisor Certs of value on many restaurants in the UK and Europe. After Egypt next month I'll report back on whether it's gotten through there.