Take Control! You are on the web even if you do not have a web site.

by Joanne Steele on August 3, 2009

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The decision whether to be “on the web” is actually out of our hands as small tourism businesses. With the explosion of review sites like Trip Advisor, in all likelihood, your business is on the web, and people are making travel decisions based on what is posted there.
Human nature being what it is, if someone visits your business and loves it, they’re likely going to tell three people. If something wasn’t to their liking, they’ll tell 14. And this is often what we see on the Internet at review sites. So, what can you do about this?

1. Know what is being said about you where.

Get online and Google yourself.

2. Check and update any online directory listings.

Google pageIf any directory sites pop up on that all-important first page on the search engine, check them out carefully. Many of these directories have spaces for you to add photos, information about your business and more. If you discover incorrect information, locate the “contact us” information and email the site and ask for an update.
As an example, I googled the Lamplighter Campground in Revelstoke, British Columbia. Besides Lamplighter’s own website on the first page there were 9 listings on directories and review sites. Each of these receive traffic from people searching for Revelstoke camping, British Colombia camping, camping near Banff National Park, dog friendly camping in British Colombia and more. Updated listings with pictures, the URL of Lamplighter Campground and good reviews on these sites are what are driving most of the Internet traffic and reservations to this little locally owned campground.

3. Manage online reviews of your business.

If you find reviews, both favorable and unfavorable, respond where possible. For our example, Lamplighter Campground, I discovered a list of nice reviews at rvparkreviews.com. There was not a method for responding to a negative review, but a little research uncovered a suggestion that campground owners download review sheets and hand them to their guests. If Lamplighter Campground had these review sheets behind their counter, handing one to a satisfied camper makes a positive review at this site much more likely… especially since Lamplighter Campground has free wifi!

4. Keep track of your online presence with Google Alerts

Keep track of what is being said about you the easy way by setting up a Google Alert. You’ll need to set up a Google account, which includes a gmail box where your alerts will land. Then go to your new Google Account and follow the directions for setting up alerts. If you already have a Google Account, sign in, click on “My Accounts” and click “Alerts”.
Set up an alert for your own business by name. Then, to get info about your industry, you can also set up alerts on other subjects. Set them up as “comprehensive alerts” so that you get every mention of your alert choices. You’ll quickly discover if your alerts are too general – your gmail box will fill with useless information – but well targeted alerts can help you get control of your online presence, which will help to increase your sales and build your business.

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