Some restaurant goers are likely to give a poor customer review if it was raining outside when they visited the establishment, a new study says.
Researchers from the Ohio State University examined how people's perception on the weather can potentially influence their moods and behaviors.
In an experiment featuring customers handing out restaurant reviews, the research team found that people tended to have negative opinions about their experience if it was raining on days that were supposed to be dry.
The odds of restaurant goers giving bad reviews compared to good reviews were 2.9 times greater during rainy days.
The result was supported by two other studies involving people in different parts of the United States, where bad weather left many customers in bad moods. Conditions outside caused people to have less positive views about the restaurants that they ate at.
"Restaurant managers may see more than the usual bad reviews on certain days, and it may have nothing to do with the service or the quality of the food," explained Milos Bujisic, an assistant professor of hospitality management at OSU and one of the authors of the study.
"Restaurants can't control the weather, but it may affect how customers review them."
Bad Weather Can Put Customers In A Bad Mood
To find out how the weather can affect people's perceptions, Bujisic and his colleagues looked at 32 fast-casual restaurants in Florida and how customers tended to feel about these establishments after their visit.
The researchers examined the comment cards that restaurant goers leave behind and rated the opinions based on a five-point scale. A score of 1 was given to comments that were very negative, while 5 was given to comments that were very positive.
They also reviewed weather data collected by the National Climatic Data Center for areas where the restaurants were located. They matched it with the dates when the customers left the comment cards.
There were 14 weather variables that were examined during the study, but only three of them were linked to the customers' opinions. These were barometric pressure, temperature, and rain.
Higher temperatures often caused customers to feel uncomfortable, which may have led to them having negative opinions about their restaurant visits.
People also gave negative comments on the cards when there was high barometric pressure in the restaurants' locations.
The researchers said this result might be different for much of the United States, since an increase in barometric pressure is commonly linked with fair weather. However, in warmer climates such as those in Florida, high barometric pressures are more often associated with higher temperatures during the day.
Bujisic and his team also conducted two other studies in support of the first. One of them involved asking people from across the country to rate and describe the weather just before they visited a restaurant.
The restaurant goers also told the researchers what their moods were at the time and whether they would recommend the establishment to others.
The researchers found that customers who had a positive opinion about the weather also had a positive view when they visited the restaurant. Results showed that better moods were more of a deciding factor on whether these people would recommend the establishment, not the condition of the weather during their visit.
A similar study was carried out, this time involving customers in the Northeast, Northwest, and Midwest regions of the United States. These were chosen because of the variable weather these areas have throughout the year.
The researchers found that good weather conditions helped elevated the mood of the customers, which may have translated to good restaurant reviews and recommendations.
Study coauthor Vanja Bogicevic clarified that weather was not the most important factor in determining people's dining experience. However, she stressed that it is something that should not be ignored.
While it may have only been a small factor throughout the study, it should still be considered by restaurant managers, Bogicevic said.
The findings of the Ohio State University study are featured in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research.