The power of a personal travel recommendation

March 28, 2019

Mazel Tov, Budapest

My brother Tom and I have always had opposing personality traits. He’s laid back, I’m organised. He goes with the flow, I’m a planner. He’s an academic, I’m more creative.

So, when my sister and I were planning a long weekend in Budapest and asked Tom’s advice, we weren’t holding out hope of getting much detail. What he did tell us, amongst other tips, was that he’d stumbled across a restaurant that he thought was pretty special. “It’s good food, good prices, with cool décor”, he said; needless to say, the recommendation didn’t jump to the top of our ‘must do’ list. Sensing our lukewarm reaction, Tom told us that his dining experience was a highlight and that it’s now the first thing that pops into his head when he thinks about Budapest. Praise indeed!  We were now convinced.

After a busy day exploring the sights, walking everywhere – over Chain Bridge to Fisherman’s Bastion on Buda’s side of the Danube, up Gellért Hill to the Liberty Statue and Citadella before wandering back down the hill to unwind in the world-famous Gellért Thermal Baths – we were starving. Tom had recommended the views from both the Liberty Statue and Fisherman’s Bastion, both of which had been wonderful, so we put our trust in him again and walked to Mazel Tov.

It’s been a while since I’ve walked into a restaurant and been completely wowed; but, without sounding overly dramatic, our mouths hit the floor. From Tom’s description we’d pictured a small, family-run restaurant with a simple but enjoyable menu, in a space that needed a little TLC, perhaps with wall tiles in a stylish pattern or some interesting art. What we walked into was a large, almost warehouse-style restaurant with a high ceiling, exposed brick walls, intimate lighting, luscious hanging green plants everywhere, fairy lights galore – both suspended from the ceiling and circling a tree standing proud as the space’s centrepiece – and, with excited chatter and drinks flowing, it was a buzzing atmosphere and totally enchanting.

Mazel Tov

We had an incredible evening; the food was outstanding, as were the waiters, and we sipped the recommended Hungarian wine (delicious!) whilst wondering how we could ever have doubted our brother and his taste. Our evening at Mazel Tov is one of my highlights of Budapest; it’s now at the top of my recommendations for the city.

Mazel Tov

The whole experience brought home the value of a personal recommendation. With consumer confidence low it’s taking more for us to decide to purchase; anything that makes parting with our hard-earned money easier is now even more important than it used to be. If a trusted opinion isn’t available to help with our purchase decision, we go to the next best thing – strangers’ opinions on the internet.

Budapest, Hungary

We’re programmed to remember the extraordinarily good or the absolutely awful, so we trust these online rating resources to be honest and fair, based on a person’s true experience. It’s therefore important to have back-up reviews and high ratings online, to ensure new customers are attracted to your brand/product/service. Studies have shown that 68% of customers will leave a review if asked, so it seems like a wasted opportunity if you don’t build your brand reputation online with free feedback. If there are constructive points, these can be used to improve the service offered further.

Comments to feedback are also useful. If we read feedback about a product/service and the brand has replied with an impersonal and generic response, that will impact brand reputation online and we may be less inclined to use the product/service. This also applies to customer service responses across social media, where more of us are now turning to see what the product/service is like, in addition to just reading about it.

Travel PR recommends reviewing your brand’s online presence to ensure it’s optimised for customers; and of course, if you’re ever in Budapest, I’d very much recommend a visit to Mazel Tov.

The Specialist Travel Association (AITO) has a review service for its holiday company members, giving customers the opportunity to rate each operator across a range of categories.

By: Charlotte Griffiths