The influence of foreigners’ buzzing on TripAdvisor ranking of restaurants in Venice: implications for the sustainability of over-touristed heritage cities

By Andrea Ganzaroli, Ivan De Noni and Michelle Bonera

How much restaurants’ reputation in crowdsourcing systems is influenced by foreign tourists in overtouristed cities? Click to learn more about the reliability of rating systems based on crowdsourcing in overtouristed cities.

Are rating systems based on crowdsourcing capable to discriminate the quality of restaurants in overtouristed cities? When it is about lunchtime or dinnertime in a foreign tourist city, we promptly take our phone out of the pocket and start to type on the screen looking for a good restaurant where to enjoy the quality of local food. We start to compare ratings and reviews provided by alternative apps and then, finally, we make our decision. However, who did decide the reputation of your restaurant? To what extent the evaluation of other foreigners has influenced the reputation of your restaurant?

The answers to those questions are particularly relevant in the case of overtouristed cities, in which a large share of customers’ reviews is from foreign people who may lack the know-how to evaluate the quality of local food. Furthermore, those people may be positively influenced by the atmosphere, their being on vacation, or by the judges of the others (herd behavior). Therefore, they may tend to overrate the quality of restaurants and that of the food served. This may lead to systematic distortion in the crowding system ranking the quality of restaurants and, more in general, the cultural goods offered in overtouristed cities. The consequences of those systematic distortions may be crowding out quality from overtouristed cities. A phenomenon that we have learned to call touristification.

To verify the likelihood of such an occurrence, Ganzaroli, De Noni, and Bonera have run an experiment based on the data collected from TripAdvisor on 575 restaurants in Venice. Their findings confirm that foreigners systematically overrate the quality of restaurants in Venice compare to Italians. Furthermore, this attitude significantly affects restaurants’ reputation and ranking on TripAdvisor. However, Italian does not mean Venetian, but, likely, he or she may know better about the quality of Venetian food.

If you want to learn more about this research, you may click here and download the full paper published in Current Issue in Tourism.

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