TripAdvisor launches format to boost business reviews

TripAdvisor, a travel information website featuring customer reviews and opinions, has launched a new review collection service to assist tourism-related businesses in obtaining reviews.

Review Express is a free facility that enables businesses to send a customised e-mail simultaneously to a large number of their recent customers, requesting them to post a review of their visit. TripAdvisor claims that the importance of reviews to businesses cannot be underestimated, as figures compiled by its own statistical format, TripBarometer, show that 87 percent of travellers worldwide said that they use review sites when planning a trip, and 95 percent say that they are influenced in their decision-making by the reviews of others.

The new format is intended as a tool for restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, attractions and all other travel businesses that welcome guests directly to help build their reputation on TripAdvisor by quickly gaining reviews. It also provides the consumer with easy access to the review process, as the e-mail that they receive from the business in question has a ‘Write a Review’ link direct to the TrpAdvisor website.

Severine Philardeau, vice president of global partnerships for TripAdvisor, was quoted by Breaking Travel News, saying, ‘This is a time-saver for owners, providing them with a powerful system to manage multiple emails and requests at no cost to the business. Review Express has been developed and enhanced based on extensive user testing and is an invaluable service for hospitality business owners looking to build their online reputation. When used in conjunction with our free display offerings for owners, Review Express provides a great online marketing package for small and independent hospitality business owners to capture the value of user reviews for their property.’

Heathrow tasks Masterchef judges with airport food improvement

Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, has employed the culinary expertise of judges from TV’s popular food programme, Masterchef, to comment on and produce a consumers’ guide for the facility’s eating establishments, with a view to improving overall quality.

John Torode and Greg Wallace, who judge the BBC’s cookery programme, were tasked by Heathrow executives with sampling food at all of the 73 restaurants bars and cafes that comprise the airport’s catering facility. The result is a guide that the pair have co-written, titled ‘Food on the Fly.’ In addition to 10,000 hardcopies of the guide that will be handed out to passengers, it will also be available on the Internet from July this year.

Among the more general recommendations that the food experts were able to offer up to Heathrow’s management were a need for more healthy food options, and a reminder that as a frontier into and out of Britain the airport could do more to promote the best of British food.

John Torode commented, ‘We were really amazed by the choice of food and the service at the airport. These people do an incredible job, especially given that they are open from 5am to almost midnight, every day. I think Heathrow has come on incredibly well. The days when you’d get there, it stank and all you could get was a truly dire full English breakfast have gone.’

High on the recommendation list are the Rhubarb restaurant’s burger and chips, Carluccio’s pasta and offerings from Giraffe restaurant, and the Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar.

 

London officially world leader for restaurants

London’s culinary might has been recognised with its achievement of top spot on a list of the world’s greatest restaurants.

According to the list, which was compiled by Elite Traveller magazine, a US-based publication, ten of London’s restaurants have a place in the world’s top one hundred. Paris came second with nine of its restaurants gaining favour, while New York restaurants could only muster five positions.

The Elite Traveller list was contributed to by ‘ultra high net worth’ influencers and experts associated with the magazine. They reportedly made their choices based on the quality of food, surroundings and service at the resturants.

Of the London restaurants, The Ledbury in Notting Hill fared best, improving on its 16th position last year to be placed at number 10. However, the Fat Duck at Bray was the best-placed UK restaurant over all, coming second on the list to the winner for two consecutive years, Alinea in Chicago, US.

Head chef at the Ledbury, Brett Graham, told the Daily Mail, ‘I hope it’s a reflection of how we look after our customers and also the quality of our product. We have a great, energetic young team who love what they do and I think that passion comes through.’

The positions of London’s other nine restaurants on the list were, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (33), Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (41), Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental (a new entry this year at 44), Amaya (64), Le Gavroche (65), Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley (69), Zuma (72), River Cafi (88) and Nobu London (93).

In addition to the Fat Duck, the three UK restaurants from outside London that feature on the list were Le Manoir in Oxfordshire, the Waterside Inn and restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Scotland. The UK’s 14 total entries gave it second place as a nation, with France claiming the top spot.

British Cuisine Gets Thumbs-Down from Tourists

Foreign tourists are not impressed with British cuisine, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The survey, which was carried out by Hotels.com, revealed that tourists from the United States, Australia and Norway had voted UK food the worst local food when dining out on holiday.

Britons are proud of their ‘national dishes’ of fish and chips, traditional roast dinner and full English breakfast, and these topped the list of meals that Brits thought that foreign tourists should try during their visits. However, these offerings apparently failed to win over the food-loving foreigners.

British travellers, meanwhile, expressed their admiration for American food, voting it best for family dining, best value for money and best street food. Polling 19 percent of the vote, US food was the clear leader in these categories, with Brits putting Thai food in second place.

In the best local cuisine category, the British preferences were closer to home, with Italian food coming out on top, closely followed by French cuisine.

And while foreign visitors might be quick to denounce British food, Brits themselves owned up to pining for it when they were out of the country, with 74 percent of them saying that they missed UK food and drink when abroad. A cup of British made tea was the most missed, on a list that also included chocolate, roast meals and, of course, fish and chips.

Kate Hopcraft from Hotels.com said in the Daily Mail, ‘It’s great to see that us Brits are proud of our traditional food with nothing beating a good brew as the one thing Brits miss most when away – we must remember to pack our own teabags to satisfy our cravings!’

Milton Keynes Flexes its Cultural Muscles

Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire, UK, has been expanding its horizons and hosting a number of cultural events and activities this summer, continuing over the coming weeks.

A town that has seen continuous growth since being classified by the government as a ‘New Town’ in the 1960’s, to help cater for the population overspill from London, Milton Keynes has been chosen as the headquarters for a number of major businesses and organisations, including the Open University.

The Milton Keynes Summer of Culture 2012 Exhibition is currently open until September 21 at the town’s Central Library. Celebrating the major events and organisations that are unique to Milton Keynes, the exhibition looks at the past, present and future heritage, arts, sports and wider cultural stories. The exhibition is free, although there may be charges for some activities, and it promises an engaging look at Milton Keynes with family fun activities along the way.

Also free of charge is the open-air cinema in Campbell Park on August 18 and 19. No booking is necessary, with those attending recommended to bring their own chair. Details of the family films to be screened are available at www.theparkstrust.com.

The Stony Paint Jam also takes place on August 18 and 19 at Stony Stratford. The free to attend event will see artists gathering en masse to create joint murals in public spaces.

Milton Keynes multicultural diversity will be on show at the EF Festival, which take place in Campbell Park on August 25 and 26. The EF festival will showcase the best Islamic artists in the UK in calligraphy, geometric art design and fashion. Audiences will engage in workshops, performances, shows and exhibitions. Once again, the event is free to attend.

Adhering to the multicultural theme, Milton Keynes offers an eclectic range of restaurants that draw their culinary inspiration from across the globe. Southern and Eastern European, Asian and American kitchens are all represented in the town, with one restaurant, the Red Hot World Buffet, offering buffet-style choices from several cultural destinations all under one roof.

Situated on Savoy Crescent in the town’s Theatre District, the Red Hot World Buffet includes dishes on its menu from China, Japan, Thailand, India, Mexico and Italy. The restaurant also has live counters, including a made to order Chinese stir-fry bar where diners can choose their own fresh meats and vegetables, which are then prepared by the chef.

Whether it is portraying its culture or providing fine-dining opportunities, Milton Keynes is upping its game this Olympic summer. Just 50 miles from the bustle of London, it is ready to offer visitors its own alternative take on the British way of life.

Tripadvisor Announces 2012 Travellers’ Choice Restaurants

TripAdvisor, a company that providees an online travel community for collating user-generated travel information, has announced its 2012 Travellers’ Choice Restaurants awards.

The London restaurants that have achieved inclusion to the list are:

1. Le Gavroche

2. Chez Bruce

3. Barrafina,

4. La Trompette

5. The Ledbury

6. Hawksmoor Seven Dials

7. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

8. Goodman

9. Moro

10. Petrus

The Travellers’ Choice awards for Overall Favourite Restaurants Worldwide, includes:

1. Le Bernardin, New York City

2. Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco

3. Le Cirque (Bellagio), Las Vegas

4. Girl & The Goat, Chicago

5. Le Gavroche, London

6. La Pergola, Rome

7. Ciya Sofrasi, Istanbul

8. Guy Savoy, Paris

9. Europea, Montreal

10. Toulouse Petit, Seattle

Around 576 restaurants worldwide have been included in the list, which includes travellers’ favourite dining venues in the US, Europe and other travel destinations around the globe.

Emma Shaw, the spokesperson for TripAdvisor, said, ‘As the UK’s capital city, London is visited by millions of tourists every year, but in the past it has sometimes been derided for its culinary offerings, But now millions of TripAdvisor users have spoken, proving that London’s restaurants are not only world-class, but enjoyed by those that really matter, diners.’

We’re thrilled to highlight some of the TripAdvisor community’s favourite restaurants We found that travellers’ favourite restaurants range from well-known, casual chains to upscale fine dining options – the common thread for these award-winners being a consistently remarkable dining experience with outstanding service and quality.’

‘Opinionated About Dining’ Lists Top 100 Restaurants in Europe

Opinionated About Dining, a US-based company that rates restaurants, has released its list of the Top 100 European Restaurants.

The list has been collated from around 70,000 restaurant reviews, compiled by around 3,000 people. The UK’s, Fat Duck Bray-on-Thames, makes it to the top ten restaurants, the full listing for which is as follows:

1.    Restaurant Quique Dacosta Denia, Spain;

2.    Fat Duck Bray-on-Thames, United Kingdom;

3.    Noma Copenhagen, Denmark;

4.    Troisgros Roanne, France;

5.    Bras Laguiole, France;

6.    Oud Sluis Sluis, Netherlands;

7.    Arpege (L’) Paris, France;

8.    Pierre Gagnaire Paris, France;

9.    Alain Ducasse- Louis XV Monte Carlo, Monaco, and

10.    Mugaritz Errenteria, Spain

The Top 100 restaurants of Europe include around 37 from France, 15 each from Italy and Spain, nine each from Germany and the United Kingdom, eight from the Benelux countries, three from Denmark, and one each from Switzerland, Austria, Greece and Sweden.

Steve Plotnicki, the author of the Opinionated About dining blog, said, ‘Opinionated About Dining is a consumer-based survey. Our contributors share in detail their likes, dislikes and experiences. The compilation of first person feedback is what created our list of Top 100 Restaurants in Europe. Within the rankings are some interesting findings, close to 50 percent of the restaurants serve modern/progressive cuisine, which shows a shift in the preference and demographic of the diners.’

Plotnicki describes the respondents to the survey as ‘trending toward younger, more adventurous eaters that value the traditions of classic cooking, but are looking for new, thought-provoking experiences in dining.’

Eating Cheap in Singapore: The City-State’s Best Budget Restaurants

While Singapore certainly has a reputation for expense, the city’s restaurants offer some of the most varied and affordable food in the world. Mixing the best of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cuisine, the food on offer in Singapore’s street-level dining establishments and outdoor restaurants is varied and exciting – just what any food obsessed tourists lives for.

We took a look at the city’s ubiquitous ‘hawker stands’ – large, table-filled, inexpensive food centres found on just about every major street corner. The ‘stands’ are similar to the food courts found inside most shopping malls, offering a selection of Singaporean treats and delicious meals. What separates them from food courts, however, is the immense quality of the dishes on offer.

Catch the MRT to Singapore’s infamous Bugis district and you’ll run into several such centres, with the largest located in front of the district’s large hotel spread. Dishes are available from four dollars, making the Bugis area eateries one of Singapore’s premiere budget food corners. Venture down the street to Clarke Quay and you’ll be hit with a variety of high-end restaurants and luxurious bars.

Chinatown is another obvious choice, although its selection of Malay foods is rather lacking. The historical district is located to the east of Bugis, and is accessible by MRT from Singapore’s central district. Eateries throughout Chinatown range dramatically in terms of quality and style, with basic dished available from just $2. Higher-end restaurants will typically charge around $30 per person.

Singapore’s population is food obsessed, leading to an impeccable level of quality throughout the city. While our recommendations cover the city’s leading food spots and budget cuisine locations, they’re certainly not all the city has to offer. For true Anthony Bourdain styled cuisine exploration, spend an evening browsing the city’s back-street eateries and taste-testing inexpensive dishes.