Translating Zagat Reviews Into the Traditional 5-star System
How do you rate your favorite places? What kind of ratings gives you the most information when you’re looking up a venue? Is it the the star rating scale?
How about the movie critic thumbs-up? Or this new adopted system by Google+ ?
In September of last year Google officially acquired Zagat and integrated it into their Google+ Local system on May 30, 2012.
“Zagat Survey® is based on the belief that the shared experiences of large numbers of users is inherently more accurate than the opinions of a few critics”
Zagat started in 1979 as a hobby by husband and wife team, Tim & Nina Zagat. It’s a provider of survey-based information, primarily in the restaurant sector (You can learn more about Zagat’s history here)
The Zagat rating scale works by allowing individuals to rate their preference for a place they’ve been to on a 0-3 scale. It then takes these ratings, averages them, multiplies them by ten, and gives an overall rating representative of the entire sample.
There are some benefits to the Zagat scoring system, such as being able to see separate ratings for different qualities such as “Food”, “Décor”, and “Service” for restaurants or “Quality”, “Appeal” and “Service” for metro stations. But this comes at a cost.
The downfalls of Zagat
First, since Google owns Zagat, it is the only platform using the Zagat system. This is a problem when other platforms are using a star rating scale. How does a 21 in food and 15 in service in Zagat compare to my 4.5 stars in Yelp? Inconsistencies like these can lead to confusion when deciding where to go or what to do.
Second is the rating system itself. While Zagat system is very North-American-centric, star ratings are international and cross-cultural. There is something elegant about 5 stars and even in Japan people know what a 5-star hotel is. We’re rooted in the 5-star system. A 4/5 is the same as 8/10 . . . that’s 80%! Not bad, right?
Let me hit you with a 23/30 Zagat score. Quick, what percent is that? We still get it, but it leaves something to be desired (by the way, it was 76% or just shy of 4/5 stars).
Another thing about Zagat scoring is that individual ratings are out of 3. This can be very misleading because using quantitative scales as qualitative measures doesn’t always work.
The current scale goes like this:
3 is excellent, 2 very good, 1 good, and 0 poor to fair.
3/3 is great, that’s 100%, 5/5 stars! So far so good until you see a rating of 2/3 . . . well, in stars (which people are used to), that would be 3.33/5 which seems OK. Apparently 1/3 means good, but the fraction sounds horrible. In stars this would be 1.6/5 which is looking awfully pitiful. And of course there is 0, which according to Zagat scoring is poor to fair. Never knew those meant the same thing.
The third downfall to the Zagat system is that it is catered toward restaurants while the star system is used across multiple verticals (restaurants, hotels…even movies).Not all local service and business centers serve food, and for many the décor may be completely irrelevant.
The Solution: How to convert Zagat into 5-star
Sweet IQ has devised a solution whereby we track the Google+ Local reviews and convert them to the standard star scoring system for reporting. This gives people the option of both Zagat and the internationally recognized star rating system.Now you are able to compare your Zagat ratings against a rating system you’re familiar with.
But we would like to hear from you! Do you prefer the star rating system or the Zagat scoring system? Why?