We often hear talk of the importance of local search campaigns in developing a brand’s presence in its local community. Locals create a customer base loyal to the brand and can become enthusiastic cheerleaders who help drive in even more patrons. But there’s a target market many local search campaigns neglect to address: travelers. Sure, if you own a plumbing company, travelers may not be particularly relevant to your business, but if you have a restaurant, hotel, or retail store, you should give out-of-towners a second look. And as someone who recently returned from vacation, I can attest that local search is a big help, even for non-locals!
Here’s a little more about some of the most popular travel research and review sites and how they can come in handy for your local search campaign:
Google Maps / Google Places
Google Maps has been helping people find stuff for a long time. You probably use Google Maps often: to route your journey to your friend’s wedding or to your next big job interview. Google Maps is an integral part of any local search campaign as it helps customers find and get to your physical location. Google Places works in tandem with Google Maps by enhancing your local presence in the Google search results with photos, reviews, hours of operation, and much more about your business. In fact, just this week, Google announced it will be giving even more weight to Google Places listings. Check out the before and after shots of one restaurant’s listings to see for yourself.
TripAdvisor helps travelers make educated decisions on the hotels they stay in, the vacation packages they sign up for, the flights they take, and so much more. The site has two options for business owners: a free version to create your business listing and monitor your reviews and a paid version, starting at $40 / month, that offers a number of great features, including the ability to display your contact information, enhance your mobile listing, and create special offers displayed at the top of TripAdvisor’s search results. TripAdvisor had been so valuable to the owner of our Welsh bed & breakfast that she included a link to her TripAdvisor listing on her business cards, just to encourage more visitors to leave reviews!
Yelp is probably the most renowned user review tool out there. Mobile and desktop users can access information on countless local restaurants, spas, service providers, and pretty much everyone else under the sun. They may also choose to write reviews, upload photos, and create lists of their favorite (or least favorite) local haunts. In August of this year, Yelp concluded that over 63 million people had used Yelp to find local businesses in the previous 30 days. Yelp uses third-party tools to identify local businesses to add to its database, but it’s up to you to make sure your listing is accurate and to monitor your comments.
UrbanSpoon replies on user submissions to add to its restaurant database. So, you (or someone who loves you), has to submit your restaurant listing in order to be found on UrbanSpoon. No listing, no new customers! Both the website and its mobile app are commonly used by people looking for a bite to eat in unfamiliar areas.
There are, of course, a number of other ways to promote your local business through social media, including Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags, and directories. The bottom line is this: travelers really aren’t that different from anyone else. They’re prospective customers who want some peace of mind that they’re making an educated decision on the local businesses they choose to patronize. You know your services are great. Your existing customers know it, too. Give those loyal fans a chance to voice their endorsements of you on the sites that others use to do their travel research. Those reviews will help you get new people through your front door … even if they neglect to mention that the parrot living in the dining room of your bed & breakfast occasionally likes to refer to customers as “wankers.” (Not speaking from personal experience, of course.)
Does your restaurant, B&B, or other travel-related business need some guidance setting up a local search campaign? We can help! Contact us today to learn more about our local search and social media solutions.