The Shed: Why an online prankster has better ratings than your business

If you are eager to get your business to the top of Tripadvisor, you need to turn to the most bizarre individual for guidance. Last year, the UK was introduced to an ingenious prank that made headline news. A London based writer, Oobah Butler, decided to have a go at creating the best restaurant in London. The only catch? It didn’t exist.

The Story

So how did one individual manage to trick a website and its audience into thinking so highly of a completely made up venue? First, we need to take a look at his process. Oobah set up “The Shed” in April 2017. He started by creating a website with a made-up menu, bought a burner phone and a general location (but no official address) to make the business look legitimate. This way, he could be approved by Tripadvisor. Though its rankings began at the very bottom, Oobah used all of his friends and family to write up highly rated, yet realistic reviews with photos he had provided.

These ratings eventually managed to boost his ranking on Tripadvisor out of the bottom ten thousand, making his “business” easier for users of the website to discover. This then led to calls and emails requesting bookings. As the restaurant didn’t actually exist, Oobah said that bookings were completely backed up for months.

Creating a Buzz

The lack of an official address and the fact that tables could only be booked via appointment appeared to build up the need for more information, and demand for an exclusive service. After months of continuous “reviews” by friends and family, the restaurant finally held the title of the top restaurant in London.

So what can your business take from this story? It seems that keeping a sense of mystery is key. Though you still want customers to be aware of the type of service you offer, you need an aspect of your business that gets people talking. Play to your customer’s curiosity. Organic growth is formed like a ripple effect, it bounces the same idea further and further out through word of mouth (or word of text if we’re looking at this from an online perspective.)

The Year of Pranksters

This isn’t the only restaurant prank that had the internet fooled. Manchester also fell for a similar incident around the same time last year by a gravy restaurant that caught the eyes of Manchester Evening News on Twitter. It too had a website with a menu, but information on opening dates and location was kept quiet, causing users to investigate further. It was then revealed on April Fools day that it was one big hoax, leaving many Northern gravy lovers disappointed.

Proof of success

How do you know if what you are offering is truly successful? For Oobah, it was the realisation that he had to officially open the restaurant to a rare few who had been eager to dine for months. He decided to open his Al Fresco dining experience in November, offering the service for free for a “documentary”. With a few helping hands to meet guests, blindfold them and guide them to his “hidden restaurant”, Oobah continued to keep his plan unfoiled and was even left with legitimate five-star reviews.

If you have a REAL business and want it to be the talk of the Internet, Search and More are here to help. For more information on our social media and website services, contact us today to discuss what we can offer to help your business grow.

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