Every time there is a “how,” we must also have a “why.”
Many businesses in highly competitive markets and niches are frequently looking for ways to refine their TripAdvisor profiles, as well as the search parameters dictating how a potential customer is likely to find their business on this popular travel reviews site. Why? Because a revision to a more inclusive or accurate business type or an inclusion on a geographically-based search for a larger market may just give you that very boost in traffic and leads you have been searching for, without having to touch your marketing budget.
Hopefully, with this post, you will learn how to initiate changes on business type and search location, and try to identify the appropriateness of these types of changes in order to help you decide for yourself if this is the right move for your business.
Keep in mind that both changes must be carefully evaluated beforehand, particularly if the change is likely to cannibalize leads from a certain parameter to replace them with another. In short, make sure that the change will result in more views of high-quality customers who are looking for the types of services you offer, in the market where you offer it.
Pushing your boundaries in terms of type and location to the point where it no longer fully aligns with the true needs of those doing research on TripAdvisor may come back to bite you. Do not pretend to be something you are not, or to be located where you are not. By not having a correct profile, you are likely to decrease customer satisfaction, and that result will quickly translate into negative reviews and affect your overall popularity ratings and online business reputation.
When is it appropriate to change your business type?
A business type change on your TripAdvisor profile is needed when the descriptive type of your business is not aligned with the category capturing the bulk of your competitive set. Before you move forward with a business type change, make sure your new type best represents your product, service, and price point.
It is not possible to appear under the sort for more than one type; therefore, select your type carefully. Case in point: If you are a fast-food Italian venue, then you may have a higher number of views under fast-food than you would under Italian, and you are more likely to deliver what a customer expects from a fast-food venue than an Italian full-service restaurant.
Two examples in the lodging and hospitality segment
Let’s explore how this works in the lodging segment. If a property is smaller in size and is in the boutique category but offering a breakfast-inclusive rate, then there is a strong possibility that TripAdvisor will initially categorize the property as a bed and breakfast, even when its model offers the amenities and comforts consistent with a small boutique hotel.
In this scenario, a customer who prefers hotels and does not want to be exposed to the peculiarities of bed-and-breakfast venues, such as locked-doors hours and limited-hour front desk, may opt against said property. In this instance, it would therefore be beneficial for the property to submit a request for change if, after weighing the pros and cons, management determines the property is likely to get more and better leads by making a correction to the type of lodging category. Because no boutique hotel lodging category exists, this hotel would be bundled with the general hotel category.
TripAdvisor only features three main categories of lodging, hotels, bed & breakfast, and other types of accommodations
If, on the other hand, a business is sorted under boutique hotel when, in reality, it only features the services and amenities consistent with a bed and breakfast, then management may want to revise the type, even when the number of leads is likely to decrease.
The goal in making this revision is to better align the product with the reality of business, in order to ensure the business is able to meet and exceed expectations. Making this change may result in a better overall score, popularity rating, and increased number of good or excellent reviews that, in turn, can translate into the ability to increase rates parallel to increased demand.
Cornell University identifies a direct relationship between having more reviews and having better ratings. A type or location change frequently triggers improved review performance.
How to change your business type
How you change your business type will depend on your type of business. Lodging has a more formal review process, whereby dining establishments and attractions are a little bit more relaxed in terms of minimum standards of parameters for each category.
Process for lodging type change
Submit a request in the TripAdvisor Management Center. Before you submit this request, confirm that your business meets the requirements for the new property type. You can see them here. Once you’ve confirmed, follow these steps to submit a change request:
- Log in to the Management Center.
- Select “Manage Your TripAdvisor Page.”
- Under “Property Administration Tasks” select “Change Accommodation Type.”
- Complete the required form and make sure your property meets the minimum standards set forth; or, in lieu of meeting minimum standards, make sure your property has a certificate from the National Office of Tourism categorizing the property under a certain type.
- Provide evidence to prove that your business is this type of property. Evidence may include photographs, scanned versions of your brochures, or other marketing collateral.
- If needed, include any additional comments that may help.
- Submit your form.
Process for restaurants, attractions, and other categories
Submit your requests via the general support feature in the TripAdvisor Management Center. Log in and select “E-mail Us” under the “Contact TripAdvisor” box. Select “Update Business Information,” and then “Business Listed in the Wrong Location.” Provide additional details on the change in the “Comments” box. (Notice that the verbiage of this category reads location but refers to type of business.)
Is your geographic search performance optimized?
A TripAdvisor location change under geographic search parameters is different from a change of address. This type of change becomes necessary when your business is located adjacent to a larger market but outside the boundaries of a particular city or area.
In these cases, your business might be well-located to service customers searching for your products or services, but they are unable to find you due to the zip code or city where your business is located. The goal in requesting this type of change is to broaden your reach.
Before making a request for geographical inclusion, a business must first evaluate its accessibility for the market in question as well as what is considered normal within a certain search or metropolitan area. If your business is not realistically accessible for those seeking to lodge, dine, or otherwise secure services in a certain market, then your geographical parameter expansion will come back to bite you in the form of dissatisfied customers.
Two examples of location change in search
One of the most common instances where a business is likely to request a location revision relates to hotels or restaurants in proximity to a city airport that is located outside the city limits.
Case in point: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Many of the hotels servicing the DFW Airport are under the jurisdiction of several adjacent cities in the Dallas Metroplex, including Irving, TX, and Las Colinas. Businesses servicing the airport and in close proximity to Dallas downtown may wish to be listed as part of a search for Dallas hotels or restaurants in order to broaden their reach and secure more leads via TripAdvisor.
The other type of request applies to businesses that have been erroneously grouped under a broader search but are not able to comfortably service the customer. For example, a hotel in New Jersey may not be the most accessible option for someone wishing to lodge in Manhattan; however, in some instances, some areas of New Jersey are considered part of the expanded search for New York City.
How to change your location parameters
To have your business included in a larger tourism region:
- Log in to the TripAdvisor Management Center.
- Go to “Manage Your TripAdvisor” page.
- In the section called “Property Administration Tasks” choose “Change Business Location.”
- Complete the form with the required information.
- In the “Comments” section, indicate the expanded region, city, or tourism area where you want to be included.
You may need to provide evidence that your location is officially part of the larger tourism region. A TripAdvisor Listings representative will contact you for more details if, in their professional judgment, your location is not an ad-hoc fit for the expanded geographical search. Your request is solely at the discretion of TripAdvisor and it may be declined.
As a final word of warning: These changes should not be taken lightly. Do it when it makes sense for your business and it makes sense for your customers. Optimizing these features, when done right, can result in increased leads and, consequently, increased revenue. If your business stands to benefit from this type of revision, then the time to do it is now.