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Get on Yelp! So many tour operators ignore Yelp that it makes you wonder what they did to annoy people so badly. Yelp is growing everywhere. While it is still most important in the USA, it is getting significant traction in many other countries. Another advantage of getting listed on Yelp is that their listings often rank highly in Google for money-making keywords. You can piggy-back on their success just by having a free listing!

Why You Should Get a Profile

Yelp is a major player. With 178 million unique monthly visitors(opens in a new tab) (and growing), it’d be reasonable to say that you should be paying attention to it! Compare that to Twitter’s 186 million daily users(opens in a new tab) or TripAdvisor’s 315 million(opens in a new tab). It’s definitely something you shouldn’t be ignoring.

Yelp is now highly relevant to travel. Just check out how active it is in your area.

Your competitors are ignoring it. Sure, Yelp has less of the types of visitors that you might want than TripAdvisor has. But it also has a lot less of your competition, too.

Yelp users have money, and they’re hot to spend it. Their largest active demographic is the $100k+ category, which comprises 36.4% of reviewers. That’s impressive, but check this out: 35 percent(opens in a new tab) of people searching on Yelp will make a visit to a business within the next 24 hours. This is a truly hot user base. Let’s be honest here: most people on Yelp are looking for food and not tours. That doesn’t mean that no one is looking for tours! Many people on Google are looking for saucy videos, but that doesn’t stop you from trying to get business there, does it?

It’s easy. It takes less than 1 hour to create a good basic profile. A little longer, and you can have a great profile! How many sales would you need to make from Yelp in a year to justify this hour of your time?

Yelp will make a profile for you anyway. Not convinced about Yelp? No worries! Yelp will make you a profile anyway using publicly available business data. It will look terrible, though.

The map information on iPhone/iPads comes from Yelp. Apple no longer uses Google Maps for local businesses. Instead, when you run a maps search on your iPhone, you’ll see that various businesses appear on the map. This comes directly from Yelp. Apple may not be the biggest player, but iPhone and iPad users are easily the most lucrative.

$8000 annual business revenue increase. The average business on Yelp sees an increase in business of $8000(opens in a new tab). That’s not a trivial figure – and just remember, those that use the Yelp platform best will stand to make a lot more than $8000. That being said, that kind of increase would most typically come to local restaurants and shops, the core of Yelp’s business.

Yelp ranks on Google. Search for nearly any type of local business nowadays, and there on the front page of Google is a Yelp result. It could be a list of local businesses or even your very own listing! Therefore, you have another chance at ranking on Google. If someone isn’t clicking on your website, the next best thing that can happen is that you’re getting a chance to sell them elsewhere.

16 Tips How to Create a Yelp Listing That Makes Your Tourism Business Shine

1. Claim your listing. This seems like a no brainer, but 40% of businesses on Yelp still haven’t claimed their listing. We’ve also written about how to make a great yelp profile and also how to make that profile effective.

2. Spy on your competition. Before making a listing on any site, you should always inspect the listings of other companies to find the best practices and then apply them to your own listing.

Not only that, but the reviews left on other profiles can give you a fantastic insight as to what other people are looking for when they go on tour. As Brian Casel explains at Social Media Examiner(opens in a new tab): ‘Can you start to see patterns in the types of things mentioned in their reviews? Try to pin down what your local market values highly and what prompts them to leave a poor review.’

3. Delete the duplicates. Before beginning on your profile, make 100% sure you don’t have a listing that has already been submitted by Yelp or one of their users. Duplicate listings will create a confusing mess for both you and your visitors.

4. Complete the basics.

  • Fill in all the boxes. The emptier your profile, the less likely someone will call you. Take business hours, as an example. Many tour operators don’t put this in – why? If I can’t see your business hours, I might assume your business has closed down! Putting your business hours gives people the security that they’re calling at the right time and not interrupting you. It might be a small thing, but a great profile is all about the little details.
  • Make sure your contact information is consistent with your Google Plus page and your website. Inconsistent information confuses Google and leads to lower rankings.
  • Pick the right categories. For most operators, this will be ‘tours’. Take advantage of additional categories, however, such as ‘bike rentals’, ‘ethnic food’ (for those doing food tours),  ‘wine tours’, ‘transportation’, ‘boat charters’ and more.
  • Write a great description. Write interesting and intriguing sentences. Quote your guests using testimonials. Break down what it is you do into bite-size points. The main thing you need to be concerned about is sounding boring and just talking about you, yourself and your business. People aren’t interested in that! Talk about what THEY want to hear. For more thoughts on writing a great description, check out our post on creating a TripAdvisor profile that dominates.

5. Photos. Photos. Photos. Photos. Photos. Business listings with one photo receive 2.5x as much time per user(opens in a new tab). Upload photos from your guests or photos you took on tour. I’d recommend putting 20 at the very least. People never get tired of looking at photos – just look at Instagram or Facebook for proof of this.

6. Follow your followers to get their reviews to show up. Yelp tends to filter out reviews from ‘orphan’ accounts – those users that have signed up, left one review and done nothing else. By following these reviewers, there’s a chance you might be able to get the review out of the filter. (Hat tip to Fox Business(opens in a new tab) for that idea).

7. Sell vouchers and gift certificates. Did you know that you can actually sell vouchers on Yelp? This means you can sell people a voucher for $40 off for $20. Yelp charges nothing to create these but will take a cut at the time of sale. It’s a good way to motivate people to choose you over the next business. Check out Florida Beach Bums(opens in a new tab). They sell both deals AND gift certificates. At the time of writing, Yelp takes a cut of 30% for deals and 10% for gift certificates. It’s not clear if this is available yet in all of the countries they serve.
8. Respond to ALL reviews. Responding to reviews creates an opportunity to build a human connection with your potential guests. Review responses that additional spark of interest and personality to every profile! In addition, it just makes people feel like you really care about the people who visit with you.

I was unable to find stats about Yelp, but on TripAdvisor we know that 57% of website visitors are more likely to book with businesses with management responses.

9. Respond to reviews the RIGHT way. There’s many ways to respond to a review, and most of them are simply wrong. Put simply, you’re replying for the benefit of other people who visit the site, so make sure your responses make people want to check you out! The basic rules are: Keep It Informal, Keep It ShortKeep It Personal. Replying to reviews has a big impact, so we wrote two blog posts on the topic so that you know how to do it right: How To Respond to Positive Reviews on TripAdvisor and How To Respond to Negative Reviews on TripAdvisor

10. Track your performance in Google Analytics. Do you have Google Analytics set up correctly with goals that match the function of your business? If not, you should! You’ll get a great idea as to whether Yelp is helping you or not. This will help guide your decisions as to whether to dedicate more time or money to Yelp in the future.

11. Don’t display their badges. Yelp will give you badges to display on your site. Honestly, I don’t think they’re worth showing, especially if you already have a TripAdvisor embed on your website. Why? Your website will just get cluttered. The main thing you want is for people to book with you — once they’re on your site, you shouldn’t be pushing them away. ‘But how do I take advantage of my amazing Yelp profile?’ Read on!

12. Quote your reviews on your website. If you’re getting great reviews, you still want to showcase them, right? Of course you do! One way to do this is just to copy the reviews across to your own site, pretty them up and put a link back to Yelp. While I’m sure they have something in their Terms and Conditions which says you can’t do this…I’m sure it can’t hurt.

13. Optimize your about this business page. In your truly excellent business description, consider doing a bit of light optimization for Google. I’m not saying you should spam your listing with keywords – bad idea! – rather that you should mention the aspects of your service which are the most searched for in general. This gives you a better opportunity at capitalizing on a bit of extra Google juice. Having a great branding package(opens in a new tab) also helps a lot with your business’s identity across platforms.

14. Don’t offer incentives for reviews. Bribing people for reviews will just annoy Yelp, so don’t risk your hard-earned status by offering discounts or freebies to people in exchange for 5 stars. There’s a good chance a competitor will catch you and report you.

15. Read your reviews and act on them. There’s no piece of information that tour operators are more inclined to ignore than a bad review. Let’s face it – getting negative reviews sucks. Some reviewers might just be bad people, but the majority are actually good people who felt let down. They really do represent a genuine opportunity to learn.

16. Should you advertise on Yelp? Probably not. Take this with a big grain of salt because each business is different. That being said, Yelp tries to lock their advertisers into long-term contracts. There’s only ONE reason a company does this: they know that advertisers wouldn’t hang around after seeing the results.

Personally, I find this very worrying, and it’s something that you won’t find Google or Facebook doing.

Check out what marketing agency 39 Celsius had to say: ‘We decided to put Yelp ads on hold and put the budget into other more effective tactics, primarily Google Adwords.’ (Read the full blog post here(opens in a new tab).)

Admittedly, I haven’t tried advertising on Yelp, but reading blog posts like the above suggests that I shouldn’t. If you’re after more information, get in contact with us and we’ll be glad to have a chat.

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