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Inspire Confidence with Online Listings During COVID-19

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Inspire Confidence with Online Listings During COVID-19

Collin Gabriel April 26, 2021


Cecilia Suvagian (00:00):

So we will be sending it your way. Um, all registered attendees will be receiving it via email. In the next couple of days, we will also be posting a link to both the recorded. We are recording today, presentation, um, as well as a link to the deck that will be posted on our industry website industry that travel Um, and additionally, um, after this session, all registered attendees will be getting a brief survey to fill out. We want to know how we did stay, um, mostly the good, but also please include the not so good for us. We want all feedback. Um, and just so you know, that survey link will open in your zoom browser Window. Let’s see how it cheese.

Cecilia Suvagian (00:57):

Uh, we’re also again, um, all audience members are muted. Um, you can use the chat to chat, um, other participants and we have the Q and a feature enabled today. Um, so that you can ask any questions during the presentation. Uh, you can find, just click that Q and a icon in your zoom toolbar. And, um, we do have the last little bit of our time today will be dedicated to questions. And you can post your question anytime in that Q and a box. And then for any questions that aren’t addressed in the presentation, or if you have specific questions about your, um, specific online listings, you can actually schedule office hours with the miles program specialist and we’ll post a link to do that in the chat as well. So thank you, Jordan. I think you’ll be dropping that in.

Cecilia Suvagian (01:56):

Um, so I would like to say that today’s session was created with COVID-19 in mind. Um, but I did want to take a moment to acknowledge the numerous challenges this year has thrown at us. Um, it’s not just COVID, um, we’ve had wind storms and wildfires, so I hope everybody is keeping safe and well, and, uh, we’re really glad you’re here today. Um, so thank you again for your okay.

Cecilia Suvagian (02:27):

Now that I’ve given you all the housekeeping, uh, let me introduce myself. Uh, I’m Cecilia. So budget. I am the, um, database information specialist at travel Oregon. And what that means is, uh, I manage our Oregon tourism information system, also known as Otis. Um, you may have heard Otis before and Otis is our listing database, that powers listings, um, excuse me, travel and DMO partner websites. And I am very happy to introduce you to our presenter today. Kim Palmer is the Google program director at miles’ partnership. Um, she manages the Google DMO program team and she’s helped to guide its development industry awareness and co-op program development for this program since it launched in 2017 and previously she was the company’s director of SEO and the director of digital marketing for the hospitality division. She specializes in organic traffic generation and analytics, and has been involved in every aspect of digital marketing since launching miles’ partnerships, first destination websites in the late nineties. So thanks for being here, take it away, Kim.

Kim Palmer (03:55):

Thank you. It’s great to see everyone and meet you all again. Uh, virtually, uh, Oregon was actually my last trip before COVID hit and locked down. Um, and I really hope that you are all well. Um, so today we’re really going to focus in on how the business listings and free online tools that are available to your business can be leveraged, uh, to help you create confidence, both with travelers and with local travelers alike. Um, safety is really top of mind for today’s travelers and they need information that they can trust, uh, now more so than ever, um, to impact whether or not they choose to visit whether it is a destination or, or a restaurant, um, from very on in, um, the saga of COVID-19. Uh, the research was telling us that things like hours of operation restrictions, enclosures for business listings were among the top things that potential visitors were looking for.

Kim Palmer (05:06):

Um, so today we’re going to talk about three keys for inspiring confidence with travelers using your online business listings. Um, those three keys are to establish safety, share information and grow visibility. Now I’m not going to really dwell on established safety. I, I think everyone out there has already been doing a lot, uh, proactively to keep both their customers and their employees healthy. Uh, you have a lot of great resources from a national level with the CDC and us travel, uh, to the local level, uh, with the Oregon health authority, uh, the restaurant and lodging association, the wine board and travel Oregon’s, uh, resources to help, uh, reopen and recover from this, uh, trying time.

Kim Palmer (06:04):

The one thing I will call out, uh, in the topic of establishing safety is that safety doesn’t have to be boring. Um, and I, I think in, at this point, people really, uh, appreciate some good natured humor around, uh, the challenges that we’re all facing together. There’ve been some great examples of businesses that have found ways to incorporate social distancing and safety protocols in ways that have been both effective and fun. Uh, for example, uh, here in Florida, the Salvador Dali museum, uh, in addition to, uh, enforcing their mask policies are also distributing, uh, mustaches, uh, along with their masks that you can dress up your, your mask with, uh, in the spirit of Salvador Dali. Um, my personal favorite, uh, is the, uh, in Gator land in Florida. Uh, they have a character called the social distancing skunk ape. Um, now I’m pretty sure up in Oregon, you guys have an equivalent up there, uh, of Mr. Skunk ape, uh, but he, uh, has been used in videos, uh, in Gator land to help spread the word about what they’re doing, uh, to keep the attraction clean and enforce social distancing, uh, et cetera.

Kim Palmer (07:29):

Uh, and the research really reinforces that those health and safety, uh, information is key to what our visitors are seeking. Um, these are some stats out of TripAdvisor’s white paper from back in may that, uh, 86% of customers said that cleanliness would be very important when selecting accommodation after COVID-19 and 82% said that the disinfecting of high contact surfaces will be really important when they’re considering whether to book tours, activities, uh, and attractions. Um, so what we’re really focused in on here today is how do we share that information? How do we make sure that your costs, your potential customers know what’s different now, uh, at your, at your business, uh, highly recommend, uh, narrowing in, on some of your highest visibility platforms? Uh, first and foremost is Google and Google maps. We know that, uh, 90% of travelers utilize Google sometime in their travel planning process.

Kim Palmer (08:36):

Um, and the Google maps product is becoming increasingly critical in that visitor experience experience. Um, Google’s economic impact data from 2019 found, uh, that the Google maps product was generating 3 billion direct connections, businesses and customers, um, on a monthly basis. In addition, 79% of customers who use navigation apps as part of their leisure travel are choosing to use Google maps, uh, that came out of a Skift report, uh, that they did a deep dive on Google in early 20, 20 prior to, um, prior to COVID. Um, also the explore nearby feature, uh, in Google maps is something that launched fairly early in 2019, and by Q4 of 2019, the focus right travel technology survey found that 67% of survey respondents cited that they had used Explorer nearby, uh, either for researching or booking a recent trip. So that’s a really high level of adoption and recognition for relatively new tools. Um, also when we talk about where does your, why businesses show up in Google search results, where they do, um, when we look at local SEO, uh, currently the number one influencer of, uh, of local SEO is Google my business signals, and that means the completeness and quality of your Google business profile,

Kim Palmer (10:15):

But we’re also going to talk, uh, outside of Google here today, Yelp is another very important platform for many businesses. It has more than 178 million visitors monthly across mobile desktop and their app. Uh, and, uh, some research from review trackers found that 45% of customers are likely to check Yelp reviews before visiting a business. And 35% of folks that are searching on Yelp will actually make a visit to that location within 24 hours

Kim Palmer (10:52):

A Trip Advisor is also, uh, remains very relevant to the travel planning market and has over 463 million users on a monthly basis. Uh, and during COVID, some of their research indicated that people were spending as much as five hours in a week, uh, planning their post COVID trip using the TripAdvisor platform.

Kim Palmer (11:16):

Facebook, while we think about it as primarily a social media, uh, platform businesses do have a representation and a, uh, listing, uh, if you will, on, on Facebook and 76% of travelers in that younger demographic of 18 to 34 year olds, um, use Facebook for travel related activities.

Kim Palmer (11:42):

So let’s start, let’s talk about first steps first and foremost, uh, to be active in any of these platforms, you first have to claim your business listing, uh, for your Google business profile, go ahead and do a search for your business. And if you see this icon, uh, or a question that says, uh, own this business, uh, here in your listing, this means that you have not yet claimed your business profile. A couple of things you can do here. Uh, if you are logged into the Google account that you want to use to claim that listing, you can go right ahead and click on that icon, uh, to begin the process of claiming and verifying your listing, uh, or you can go to business dot,, enter your business information and claim it that way. Um, however, for all of you listening in here, um, miles can also help you sort of bypass the, receive a postcard or a robo call function in order to verify your ownership of the business. Um, so please feel free to reach out to us either in the office hours, following today’s session, uh, or, uh, through travel Oregon in the near future. And we can help you with claiming your Google business profile.

Kim Palmer (13:00):

Uh, Yelp works in a very similar fashion. Uh, if you find your business listing on Yelp, um, and you see this icon here about, is this your business, you go right ahead and, uh, click the claim, your business, uh, button there, or you can go directly to, Uh, in TripAdvisor. Uh, probably the most direct way to do this is to go to Uh, there is a way to do it through finding your business listing online. Uh, there’s a, there’s a button in there that says improve this listing. And if you click on that, you’re then able to, uh, click on something that will

Kim Palmer (13:43):

Ask you if you want to claim that listing in TripAdvisor.

Kim Palmer (13:49):

Uh, lastly in Facebook, uh, what you really need to do is set up a page for your business in Facebook. If you have not already, uh, your best bet there is to go directly to, uh, and click on the creative page and select business or brand, uh, to set up that Facebook page for your

Kim Palmer (14:12):


Kim Palmer (14:15):

I also really wanted call out, uh, is another great source of, uh, where visitors are finding your business. Uh, if your business is either not on the site or needs to be updated, you should reach out to your local DMO, uh, or Otis at travel, And, uh, we can get that listing updated for you then

Kim Palmer (14:38):

There as well.

Kim Palmer (14:41):

Once you’ve claimed your business profile across any of these platforms, it’s important that you make sure that your core information is consistent. Business name, phone number, website, address, and description. Uh, there there’s something called nap, uh, in local SEO name, address, phone number consistency, uh, between, uh, directories and online platforms that helps positively influence your rank in local

Kim Palmer (15:11):


Kim Palmer (15:13):

So you’ve claimed that business listing first and foremost, you should take a look at your business hours. Um, this is the most important thing that, uh, customers are looking for about businesses. Are they open now? Uh, are they open tomorrow? What time do they close tonight? So ensure your, um, business hours are up to date so that when people are doing searches for things like open now, uh, your business is sure to show up a business hours can really impact customer confidence, uh, especially these days where there’s a lot more uncertainty about whether or not a business is going to be open, uh, as they typically were prior to COVID. Um, if someone can’t figure out for sure whether your business is open, they’re likely to go somewhere else instead.

Kim Palmer (16:09):

So there are two different ways you can update your business hours on these platforms, depending on whether the changes you’re making are operating hours for the longterm, or just for the Short term in Google. My business for long-term hours changes. You want to go into the info tab, uh, and click into the hour section. Uh, this is for updates to your hours that are going to be consistent for the foreseeable future. So for example, if you are no longer open on Mondays, you can go in there and edit this. Or if you’ll always now be closing at five o’clock instead of four 30, uh, you can go in and change that there,

Kim Palmer (16:54):

There’s also a separate section in Google, my business for special hours, which is located below business hours. These are four exceptions. Um, and normally these are used when we’re putting in our operating hours for a holiday. Um, but it can also be used for other short term changes. Uh, if you unfortunately have to close because, uh, employee tested positive for COVID, or we’ve had a number of, uh, natural disasters around the country lately, which have forced businesses to temporarily close for several days or four week, all these sorts of examples of short-term changes, um, are things that you can address in this arena. Um, there is the ability to select a specific date and put in your hours, or whether or not you are closed for that specific date. Uh, the great thing there is, if someone does say it’s a holiday and someone does search for your business, uh, it will note in your business profile that your hours for the holiday have been confirmed by the business owner, which inspires confidence.

Kim Palmer (18:07):

Okay. Uh, there’s actually a third way, uh, to update your hours in Google my business. Uh, this was just added in June where you can now, uh, identify hours that are approved for particular types of services or activities. Um, this allows you to, uh, focus in on unique offerings, like happy hour delivery, takeout, special hours for seniors, et cetera. Um, so look for the more hours tab there, and you can put in hours for these, um, specific activities, uh, business hours and special hours, uh, in Yelp function. Very similarly to Google my business. You’ll find this option under the business information tab. Uh, you can both update your regular business hours, uh, or look for the section, uh, like you see here on the left for upcoming special hours, uh, where much like Google, you can enter dates, specific dates and the hours for those dates. Um, business hours also exist on Facebook. Um, so you’ll find this option in the about section on the left-hand side of your business page, uh, where you can update your regular hours. Um, and there is also a feature to update temporary service changes, um, to indicate whether you are temporarily closed operating as usual, um, or have a certain changes to your hours, Into distributing, uh, updates. Um, some of the best practices around, uh, sharing update information is to make sure that you’re sharing your updates across multiple platforms, because you can never can be sure exactly where your customers are going to look for you and look for that, uh, information, uh, posting is not a one and done event. Uh, don’t just post once and figure that you have taken care of it, uh, for the entirety of the COVID situation. Um, people are looking at the dates when things were posted and as things start to get old, uh, get more skeptical of that information. Um, so do you post frequently and, uh, for as long as that information is irrelevant, um, provide your visitors with helpful information about your current circumstances, focus on safety information for both visitors and employees, as well as to the products or services that you may be offering,

Kim Palmer (20:51):

Be brief in these platforms. If you need to provide detailed information, reserve that for your website and link these posts into your website for more detailed information. And in this era, uh, just be genuine and, and be honest with your customers about what is going on.

Kim Palmer (21:14):

Um, so again, looking in Google my business, uh, really want to encourage everybody out there to use the posts feature in Google my business. Now, there is an exception for hotels and other types of lodging. Uh, lodging does not have the posts feature. However, if you have a restaurant or a spa on property that has their own Google business profile, then posts are likely available. Um, for those locations, uh, if you go into Google my business, there’s a special section just for posts. Um, and you can add a new post by clicking on this icon. Um, Google has added a specific post format that is specific to COVID-19 updates. Um, so if you select this one, uh, there’s a lot of different kinds of posts. You can do events, offers new products, et cetera. Uh, but there is a specific one for COVID-19 updates that you can put in here, um, as well as link through to your website, uh, and then publish it.

Kim Palmer (22:22):

Now, when you publish a post on Google, it shows up directly in the knowledge panel for your business. It really almost looks like an ad. Um, and it’s completely free. There is no cost to do a post, and there is no cost per click for your customers to interact with that post. Uh, it’s also trackable. Um, you can, if you are in the habit of using campaign tracking codes, uh, with, uh, your other advertising, you can put campaign tracking codes in the links to your posts, so that you can see in your Google analytics, uh, the traffic that came through there, uh, these are highly visible visual. Uh, you can include both photos or video clips in a post. Uh, they are in a square format. So any of the great photography you’re using an Instagram can be easily, uh, leveraged for Google posts. Um, and again, they’re, they really create engagement because there, you can click this through to your website, um, or you can really click it through to anywhere that you,

Kim Palmer (23:27):

What now in yellow, Uh, there is a whole expanded section for health and safety updates where you can provide details surrounding your operations, uh, following COVID-19, um, much like posts. There is a banner message, uh, that you can type in here that will get added to your page that can be custom written, uh, for your business. Uh, there’s also, uh, a call-out here about changing your operating hours, uh, and some of your amenities, which we’ll get into here in just a few minutes. Um, but, uh, this is what this looks like, uh, on your Yelp listing. When you do fill in this information, your COVID-19 update, uh, is front and center, uh, here in the listing. And, uh, the updated services and health and safety measures are at the top of your listing. Um, your listing is also going to identify when your hours were last updated and your customers are able to click and confirm your health and safety measures. So you may see, um, that this has been confirmed. You see, according to seven users, according to five users here, in Facebook business pages and Facebook have access to new information and functionality via the dedicated COVID-19 tab, which is accessible for page owners. Um, you can find out, uh, about this, um, and a list of features that are available for small businesses through this section. Um, one of those features is to do a post that is a specific COVID-19 update. Um, when you go into add a posts, you get a whole bunch of different options, uh, for what kind of posts you can do on Facebook. Uh, but you can select COVID-19 update. Um, and this is unique, uh, because, uh, it will receive more visibility than a regular update, um, and sort of stays at the top of your listing

Kim Palmer (25:40):

There. Uh, TripAdvisor also has added a COVID-19 response center that allows businesses to share a message with customers who are viewing their business on that platform.

Kim Palmer (25:58):

Um, so I want to move into attributes and amenities. Um, attributes can really influence the visibility of your business. Um, they help identify, uh, the relative characteristics of your business, and that’s what lines up your business with customer services. Um, so for example, if someone is, uh, searching for a location that is kid-friendly, um, if you have not selected that as an attribute in your listing, you’re less likely to show up, uh, in that, uh, search, um, there’s, uh, really a considerable value in attributes even outside of COVID-19. Um, for example, may be searching for wheelchair accessible businesses, um, or other audience specific needs, uh, within Google, my business, your attributes are accessible underneath the info tab, um, and there have been some new ones added in the last six months, such as curbside pickup, no contact delivery, um, and dining outdoor seating are some ones that have been there for a while, but have become more popular. Um, if you are not a restaurant, uh, there are also some new ones for other virtual offerings, such as online classes, uh, online estimates and online appointments.

Kim Palmer (27:29):

Many of these attributes are getting a lot more visibility in Google maps and in Google search results, um, in order to help visitors quickly find, uh, the information they’re looking for. Um, so for example, in Google maps, uh, when I’m looking at an area, the takeout and the delivery, um, filters are now front and center in Google maps, uh, and you’ll see in restaurant listings, uh, the, the, either X, four not available or check for available for things like curbside pickup delivery and dining, um, are right in the front of that listing. There are also some new health and safety, uh, attributes in Google, my business. Um, so you can also check things like whether or not masks are required, temperature checks are required, et cetera, Uh, in Yelp, um, go into your basic information section and you’ll find attribute options, uh, which attributes you find will vary by your business category. Um, some new ones in the Yelp space include virtual consultations, virtual tours and virtual performances. Um, and you can see where these are surfacing within Yelp products. Uh, if I do a search for restaurants, I’m immediately take out and delivery, or my first couple of, uh, options. And we’re also seeing these things featured in some of the key filters in the app.

Kim Palmer (29:08):

Okay. Uh, in Facebook, uh, within the temporary service changes section, uh, there are a couple, um, attributes that can be selected there such as delivery pickup, or other changes. And you can see that those attributes are currently being featured in green right here at the top of listings. So if you do proactively fill these in, um, they will show up in your listing in a way that looks like

Kim Palmer (29:36):

Yes. Uh, finally TripAdvisor, TripAdvisor has added a health and safety filters, both for accommodations and restaurants that allows customers to filter down the list in a market to only businesses that are taking safety measures. Uh, but all of us know that that really is almost every business in our community at this point. Um, and yet if the business is not proactively filled out it safe health and safety features and TripAdvisor, they’re not going to show up in the search. So for example, uh, looking at Portland hotels here, um, out of the 247 properties, uh, in the area only 66 have indicated their health and safety measures. Um, and so when I run this, when I put this filter on my search, I’m only getting those 66 properties. Um, you can also see how that’s called out, uh, in the listing itself there, uh, same is true, uh, in restaurants. Um, this is more recently been added to restaurants and TripAdvisor. So there’s really even fewer, uh, locations that are coming up matching that. Filter. Uh, in TripAdvisor too, the way to manage this as to go into the COVID-19 response center. And you can see, um, that there’s, uh, many options for you to choose from to, uh, indicate your safety measures. Um, having filled out any of these, uh, will qualify you to show up in that filter.

Kim Palmer (31:21):

So those are some of the top ways and most important pieces of information that you can be sharing with your customers. Um, so I wanted to move on to talk about growing, uh, your visibility, uh, and, and in fact, uh, a couple of the best practices for growing visibility are those very same sh uh, sharing information, uh, features recent research shows that using Google posts regularly can improve a visit, uh, businesses visibility across Google’s platforms and having business hours services and attributes, um, completed, uh, will improve your visibility across all of these platforms, um, because of, uh, the matches it creates between, uh, searches and filters, uh, as well as generating value for long tail search. Two other things I like to talk about, um, is leveraging the use of high quality photos in your business listing. Uh, this can increase the likelihood of visitors showing up in person by two times.

Kim Palmer (32:34):

Uh, and in addition, I highly encourage everyone to monitor and respond to their reviews because this demonstrates responsiveness and can increase your conversion. Uh, so a little bit more about each of those first, first of all, paying attention to images. Photos are really key in how visitors are making decisions about a location and listings with high quality photos are twice as likely to generate engagement with customers. Um, so make sure your business is represented consistently across all of these platforms with high quality images in the Google, my business platform, there are two relatively new features that allow the business to control their cover image, which is the main image that shows for your location as well as to set your logo in your listing. Um, it’s important to note that that logo is in a circle, um, very much the same format that is used in Instagram. Uh, so from a brand consistency standpoint, um, whichever logo you’re using as your icon in Instagram, uh, might be a good choice for this in Google.

Kim Palmer (33:53):

Uh, this is some research that was done by bright local, uh, and this found that businesses that have more than a hundred images in their, um, listings gallery, uh, have, uh, 377% higher conversion rate, uh, from their customers. Um, so this is looking at the average monthly customer actions, including website visits, uh, directions requests, and phone calls. And you can see, uh, for the businesses that have over a hundred images, how much higher, um, those customer actions are than just the ones that have between 50 and a hundred images. Uh, the same is true visibility, uh, business profiles with more than a hundred images also have higher exposure rates. Um, this is the visibility of listings in both direct searches and discovery searches, um, for, uh, for locations that have more than a hundred images and can see it’s almost 300% higher. Um, this is another, uh, element that’s really not a one and done, uh, effort.

Kim Palmer (35:12):

Um, I can encourage you to upload quality images on a regular cadence, um, through, uh, the business profiles that our company manages on behalf of a number of resorts and other hospitality clients. We have found that adding four or five new photos each month has created a 10 to 30% lift in exposure for those businesses. Um, so don’t just take your, your 10 best images of your business, upload them and be done with it for the next couple of years. Uh, do make a note to try to, uh, upload a couple of images. Uh, every couple of years,

Kim Palmer (35:56):

Only staying on top of reviews has always been important for businesses. I understand it can be a very time consuming, but in this era where folks have a lot of uncertainty, um, businesses that are responsive to their customer reviews are going to ultimately see more customers. Um, 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses before they walk in your door. Um, and 57% of customers will only use a business if it has four or more stars. And finally, 89% of customers also read businesses responses to reviews.

Kim Palmer (36:39):

We thought this was some, uh, really compelling research, uh, by Uber all, um, that is looking at the consumer conversion rate based on star rating and an increase in your star ratings from 3.7 to 4.4, uh, can actually increase your conversion rate between 80 and 120%. Yeah.

Kim Palmer (37:07):

In addition. So based on that, uh, you should really be targeting, um, trying to have an average rating of 4.4 or higher in your business reviews in order to maximize your converting.

Kim Palmer (37:26):

Step in responding to reviews is knowing when they happen, uh, in Google, my business under settings. Um, there is the ability for you to select this box, which will send you a notification, uh, every time that you receive a customer review, um, that makes it real easy to jump from that notification, uh, into a response. Um, so that, you know, when reviews, uh, are posted within Google my business, uh, as well as within Yelp and TripAdvisor, they all function, uh, fairly the same. Um, there is an ability to reply to customer reviews, um, some best practices for responding to reviews, um, let minor complaints, uh, go. Uh, we’re always going to get a little bit of, of feedback, um, and that we can use constructively, um, but make sure that you are addressing, uh, issues in a constructive manner. Um, don’t use the responses to advertise, although we do, uh, recommend, uh, not so much blatant advertising, but if you enjoyed, uh, if you enjoyed this at our location, next time you visit, you might want to try XYZ.

Kim Palmer (38:46):

Um, don’t offer users anything. Uh, you’re, you’re kind of creating, uh, problems for yourself because when folks see that in reviews, um, they’re like, Oh, well, if I complain, then maybe I’ll get a free dinner too. Um, and of course the professional and, uh, polite now for negative reviews, we’re all gonna get negative reviews, uh, every once in awhile. Uh, what’s important in your, um, for your listing, is that your trajectory of reviews remains consistent with your average rating. Um, if you start getting, uh, negative reviews on a frequent basis, um, certainly there might be something there you need to take a look at, but that can also impact whether or not you’re showing up in local search results. Uh, first and foremost, we really encourage folks to, uh, keep responses to negative reviews short and encourage them to contact you offline people love drama. Um, and the probably worst thing you can do is to get into a heated back and forth with an unhappy customer, uh, on a platform that’s going to save that discussion for posterity. Um, when you do encourage them to contact you offline, uh, we do recommend that you give them, uh, some specifics of exactly who to talk to, um, and how to reach them.

Kim Palmer (40:18):

Another important aspect of this is growing your reviews. Um, it all starts of course, with making your customers happy when they walked in, but don’t be afraid to ask a customer to leave a review about your business. In fact, 68% of customers will leave a review for a local business if they’ve been asked to do so.

Kim Palmer (40:43):

Couple of ways you can do this. Uh, there is a site, um, marketing kit dot with, uh, is a way for you to get access to free stickers, posters, and other, um, posts for your Google business profile, um, that you can use around your business. Um, within Google my business, you can also do something called setting up a short name. Uh, this is in the info tab in Google. My business short names are unique to your business, um, and makes it really easy to, um, encourage folks to leave you a review. So, for example, once you’ve established a short name, if you want to send people directly to your Google business profile, you give them the shortening. And if you, um, want, uh, someone to review you, you can send them to short name slash review, and they can get dumped directly into the reviews area.

Kim Palmer (41:50):

Um, this is great for integration with email social media, uh, anywhere that you want to make it quick and easy for someone to leave you, uh, a review, uh, TripAdvisor, uh, once you have passed, uh, some of the thresholds within TripAdvisor, you are eligible to receive a rating certificates of excellence. Um, you can also download a widget to utilize on your website to encourage customers to leave reviews, um, that can be found at Um, so certainly look for those opportunities to encourage TripAdvisor reviews and Yelp will also let you request a, a fine design Yelp sticker. Uh, if you fill out this form here, it does not have a pretty URL, um, but you can put in for a Yelp sticker request, uh, for your location as well.

Kim Palmer (42:54):

Um, so I hope that these recommendations have been helpful for you, uh, as you move forward using your free, uh, tools and resources for your online listings to inspire confidence, uh, in your travelers and in customers. Um, first and foremost, we’re all trying to establish safety, uh, but once we’ve done, so sharing that information and growing your visibility online through these strategies. Um, so I am going to, uh, open it up for questions. We did a good job of leaving about, uh, 15 minutes here or so, uh, for questions. Um, also wanted to reiterate that our team has office hours available, that you can sign up, uh, for your business to have, um, some one-on-one one time with our program specialist who can help you claim your Google business profile or answer any other specific questions you might have about your unique situation on TripAdvisor, Yelp, uh, Google, uh, et cetera.

Kim Palmer (44:01):

So, hit me with some questions, everybody. There is a Q and a section, uh, here in, um, in zoom. Let me see.

Kim Palmer (44:43):

One question is regarding, uh, merging two to three Facebook pages. Um, I’m probably going to have to have us get back to you with the, the longer answer on that. Um, I don’t know that I have a full explanation on that. Uh, but I do, I have heard on numerous instances, folks that had had a, a originally had a personal Facebook page for their business. Um, but, uh, we’re, you know, since Facebook has evolved over time now need to move that into their business pages. Um, so we, uh, Laura, we will follow up with some details, uh, to answer that question directly. Um, we have another question about, uh, why lodging can’t use posts. Um, we asked Google that directly, uh, back at a conference a couple of years ago, and their answer was that lodging listings are a butterfly, uh, within, uh, the Google ecosystem, um, while they are managed through Google my business because of the way that they tie into OTAs and other booking providers, um, they operate in their own little area that is separate from other businesses.

Kim Palmer (46:09):

Um, and so they do have some features such as many, many more attributes, uh, than other businesses have. Um, but unfortunately they don’t have, uh, the posts feature. Uh, we haven’t heard of that changing anytime soon. Um, but our recommendation has always been, if you do have another facility on property, such as a spa or a golf course, or a restaurant, all of those can have independent Google business profiles that can be claimed and posts are available on those. So at least to the extent there is information about, um, both the, the property in those facilities, uh, it can be handled, uh, there

Kim Palmer (46:58):

A question related to service areas, uh, for businesses, um, at least in Google my business and whether or not you can only pick one city. I believe that in your Google business profile, um, you can, uh, select more than one service area. Um, there’s, uh, there’s been a few changes to it. It used to be that you could do an amount of mileage, uh, around your location. Um, last I looked at it, I think you could pick various, uh, cities, um, but you could have more than one. Um, the instance to have more than one listing would be, if you do have different locations that serve a larger, um, area, um, if you don’t have one more than one business location, I wouldn’t, um, I wouldn’t go so far as to create additional listings.

Kim Palmer (48:13):

Um, other than that on the other platforms, probably, um, being, picking the broadest, uh, location possible for that city, um, in terms of platforms for updating multiple platforms at one time, uh, we do use Yext, uh, for, uh, a number of the businesses that, uh, the Myles hospitality division uses, uh, that is a system that is designed to help you maintain your consistency across, uh, listing platforms, um, that does include Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. Um, so that’s the one that I have a familiarity with with using, uh, they’re typically around $500 for the year to have access to that platform. Uh, but it is nice to be able to go in and make a change in one place and know that it’s populating across, uh, multiple platforms. Um, and I do know for small businesses in particular, this does sound like a daunting task, uh, to try to keep all of these different listings up to date in different platforms. Um, but I, I do feel like it can be done in 15 minute increments, uh, here and there throughout your week. Um, as the director of the Google program, I’m, I’m biased towards, uh, the reach of, of your Google listing. Uh, if, if I were a small business owner, I would try to spend 15, 20 minutes there every week. I think it can have exponential results, uh, for your business.

Kim Palmer (50:17):

Um, so we have a question about a Google listing that was verified, uh, for someone who no longer works for the organization. Um, so the process for that will be that you’ll go in and try to claim the listing. And it will tell you, um, this listing has already been claimed, and it will give you like this little hint of the email address under which it was claimed. The next step you have to take is to, um, there’s a form that follows that notification, which will send an email to that address, um, saying that you have requested ownership of this listing, and then there’s a mandated period that you have to wait for the person on the other end of that email to respond. Now, you may know that there’s nobody on the other end of that email and they’re not going to respond, but you still got to sit out the, um, it’s, uh, the timeframe has changed over the course of time.

Kim Palmer (51:13):

It’s somewhere between a week and 10 days, I believe. Um, for response, once you do not receive a response, then you are able to escalate that through Google customer service. Um, and what they will do is they will release the listing from being owned by anybody, and then you have to go in there and claim it and verify it, uh, yourself. Um, if you are in the health in Google, my business, uh, highly recommend the chat feature, uh, if it’s, uh, up and running, uh, on the particular day in time that you’re looking there, uh, we’ve found that, uh, that’s a really great, uh, responsive, uh, area to get some, uh, feedback.

Cecilia Suvagian (52:07):

I don’t see any more questions, um, in the chat. Um, I guess last, last call, uh, dropping your questions in the Q and a feature. Um, Laura and Ann, uh, Agnes, we will follow up with you on your Facebook questions, um, outside of the sessions. So any other questions today, while we have Kim here to answer them?

Cecilia Suvagian (52:41):

Okay. One more glance at my chat and question boxes here. All right. Well, um, thank you all very, very much for joining us. Um, as I said, at the beginning of our time today, we will be sharing this presentation out, both, um, the recording, um, and the slide deck. Um, you should be receiving an email communication from us in just a couple of days with, um, those items. And then also, please look to your email for a brief survey, um, about this session specifically, um, that will be hitting your inbox soon. So, um, Kim, thank you very, very much. That was such an informative presentation. Um, and also, um, thanks to Jordan and Casey on tech support today. Um, enjoy the rest of your day and be well, thank you everyone.