TripAdvisor Tips: How to Deal with the Tantrum Throwers

TripAdvisor Tips: How to Deal with the Tantrum Throwers

It’s often the case that diners with genuine concerns take them up with the establishment either at the time or within a day or so. These diners usually call the restaurant or hotel, or send an email or message on Facebook or Instagram.

It’s these kinds of diners who actually want a resolution to their problem, because they’re engaging you on a platform where communication can take place.

These are the kind of diners that are worth keeping around, and they have enough sense to understand that throwing a tantrum on social media will get you nowhere. However, the tantrum-throwers still exist.

And they are usually found lurking on TripAdvisor and sometimes your Facebook page. These people use TripAdvisor because they often don’t want a resolution.

They know that the manager or owner can’t contact them directly, and they know that everyone who visits the page will see what they’ve written.

Although we know that negative feedback can often be great to point out our weaknesses, these Negative Nancies will tend not to balance their reviews at all.

There is never a fair “this part was awesome, but this part needs work” - type review from these people. It’s usually “this place is the worst restaurant I have ever been to because of this, this and this” and it’s reminiscent of a petulant child who can’t be appeased.

These reviews can be difficult to respond to, either because they’re simply an opinion rather than a fact, or they’re just completely emotional, or because they’re actually just wrong. However, you can still respond to these reviews, and you absolutely should.

If for no other reason than to show new guests that you are professional enough to engage with your naysayers, and that you will always attempt to resolve a situation. By doing this, you will look like the good guy, and you’ll call out the tantrum-throwers for exactly what they are.

I recommend using the following steps to put together a great response that will resolve the situation and let your would-be-diners know that you are willing to engage rationally and settle grievances.

Step 1 - Figure out what the problem is

Start by parsing the feedback. Break it down into its individual components so they’re easier to digest. Take an example from a pizzeria I previously managed:

This was the feedback on TripAdvisor:

Tired & hungry we called for pizza expecting a decent feed. Man, were we disappointed. Hardly any tomato base, which made the pizza dry. The cheese was placed under the toppings, so no nice grilled cheese top. The cheese was only just melted under the layer of singed toppings.

So all up, very disappointing pizza!

Hmmm... That looks like a lot to respond to! Where do we start? The first problem we have is there really isn’t enough detail here. We don’t know what the diner ordered, or when they ordered it. So we can only respond to what we have, because there is no dialogue here.

Let’s start by ripping out the opinion, because it’s not as important as the fact. We can absolutely address the facts in the situation. Responding to opinion is still important, because it shows that we care about a diner’s feelings, but we can leave that for now.

So if we rip out the opinion, we’re left with this:

1. Hardly any tomato base. 2. The cheese was placed under the toppings. 3. The cheese was only just melted. 4. Layer of singed toppings.

This makes things easier. The other stuff was just emotion and opinion. It often happens that if something isn’t exactly right, disgruntled diners will invent correlations. In this case, this diner suggested that the lack of tomato base made the pizza dry.

The chef can dismiss this as opinion, because he knows that pizza doesn’t need to have a tomato base. What makes a pizza dry is a lack of oil, and oils usually come from meats or cheese - they don’t come from a cooked tomato sauce which is mainly just water.

Because of this, the first point is actually irrelevant. Because we can’t ascertain exactly what or when the diner ordered, this needs to just moves into the “respond generally pile”.

So now we have 3 points:

1. The cheese was placed under the toppings. 2. The cheese was only just melted. 3. Layer of singed toppings.

You can see why this step is important - we don’t want to be responding to what diner’s think has happened. We want to respond to what actually happened.

With all this in mind, let’s draw up a response.

Step 2 - Address the specific problems

Let’s start by addressing the 3 specific problems. Again, it’s difficult to know if we screwed up here, or if the diner just didn’t like the food. But this is important. We need to respond differently depending on who is at fault.

If the diner appears to be describing a process or situation that is actually the way you do things, then you should simply explain that. Explain that what the diner is complaining about is actually how it’s supposed to be, and even explain exactly why you do this.

Not only is this useful to the reviewer, it’s far more relevant to would-be-customers to explain that things may not be as they would expect, and there are reasons why you do things differently.

This explanation should still be closed with the proviso that if there was something genuinely wrong (meaning that we misinterpreted the diner’s complaint and that it actually was our screw up) then the diner should contact us to have the issue resolved.

If the diner is describing something that’s not the way you generally do things, it means that you’ve probably screwed up. Something has been served that wasn’t up to standard, and it needs to be resolved.

In this case, never make excuses for the slip-up. No one wants to hear “it was a busy night” or “we had a new chef”. This isn’t good enough in a customer’s eyes. They paid the same amount for a worse experience than other diners, and lack of consistency can be a restaurant’s undoing.

In the case of our example, we decided that the specific problems were simply a case of the diner not understanding that the food is supposed to be the way it is.

And this responses explains this:

We certainly make a different style of pizza at Little Italy. For example, our pepperoni pizza starts with our fresh Napoli base, then mushroom, then some pepperoni before a light layer of cheese.

We add more pepperoni and fresh capsicum on top so that, through the oven, the ingredients take on a nice char, which we think enhances the flavour (think: roasted capsicum).

Coating the top of the pizza with cheese wouldn’t give us this flavour. However, you’re right - because we don’t use an enormous amount of cheese, you won’t see it melting and dripping all over the pizza. After this, we need to flesh out our response to address more general concerns.

Putting it all together

Now we can address emotion, opinion and general concerns that were difficult to pin down in the original review.

Start with a friendly greeting, and thank the reviewer for their feedback. This shows your approach-ability and your appreciation.

Hi, , thanks for your feedback!

Next add all your specific feedback.

Then, close with an acknowledgement that we may not have gotten it completely right, and we want to resolve the situation if you aren’t happy with the explanation. Open up the dialogue by offering that the diner call, email or send a Facebook or Instagram message - whatever makes the most sense to you.

The Final Response


Hi Sue, thanks for your feedback!

We certainly make a different style of pizza at Little Italy. For example, our pepperoni pizza starts with our fresh Napoli base, then mush room, then some pepperoni before a light layer of cheese.

We add more pepperoni and fresh capsicum on top so that, through the oven, the ingredients take on a nice char, which we think enhances the flavour (think: roasted capsicum).

Coating the top of the pizza with cheese wouldn’t give us this flavour. However, you’re right - because we don’t use an enormous amount of cheese, you won’t see it melting and dripping all over the pizza.

We love what we do, and we hope our customers do as well. But having said all that, if you genuinely didn’t like your pizza, or there’s another problem, we’re always happy to replace with something more to your liking, or simply to refund your cash.

Shoot us an email or a Facebook message if there’s anything more we can do! Thanks again.


This response has addressed all the concerns of the diner in a professional and courteous way. We’ve taken the path that this may have been a problem caused by the diner’s lack of understanding about the kind of food they ordered, but we’ve also indicated that regardless of this, we still want the diner to be compensated.

Hopefully this shows you that the tantrum throwers on TripAdvisor can be dealt with in a reasonable way, and that by doing so you can really show off the professional and friendly nature of your restaurant to the rest of your customers.