Pretend you are a visitor to town XYZ.

Go stand in some central area – maybe downtown – where your visitors tend to cluster.

Pull out your phone, open up the browser, and type “XYZ restaurants” or “XYZ hotels” into the magic Google search box. Like any tourist, you’re asking, “What’s here for me?”

Look at the results. Which ones of your attractions are up towards the top, and which ones are invisible? Do you think your unique, local places have any idea about claiming their business on Google Places or encouraging reviews, in order to be more find-able? As we point out in some search advice in this Tourism Currents newsletter, input from your locals (not just visitors) matters, too.

Close the browser.

Now, open up the Yelp app (application.) Ask it to tell you which restaurants, shops and hotels are around you, based on the GPS position your phone is transmitting.  It will do so.

Look at the results. How many of the owners of the businesses you see (showing around your location) have any idea about all of the reviews and feedback on Yelp, and that people make decisions about where to eat, where to shop and where to stay based on that information?

Put the phone away. Return to the office. Schedule some workshops with your local partners.

Help teach them to rise above the local search slush pile.

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