Facebook recently launched its local services site, Facebook Professional Services. It is very similar to Yelp, where people can search and find local businesses. Users can learn about the quality of the service via customer reviews and comments that have already been posted to those business’ Facebook page.
Tour operators need to be aware of Facebook Professional Services website because it has the potential to turn into a significant customer referral tool to the same regards as Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor. It’s another place where you will have to manage your online reputation and try to get more of your customers providing reviews.
At the date of writing, Facebook Professional Services does not make tours and activities a priority. There is no category for tours in the page’s index however they do have a quick search for Tour Company, Tours & Sightseeing and Tour Guides. The results are subpar and do not produce meaningful results most of the time. For example, in Leavenworth, WA there are no results for tour companies but TripAdvisor produces a result for 10+ tours.
Sleep with one eye open though, as Facebook could make it more robust in the tourism sector. Your Facebook page already contains the exact data required – reviews, description, location, contact information etc.
There is also some skepticism among industry insiders into the impact of Facebook Professional Services. According to Facebook’s former Director of Product, Blake Ross, it’s not the Yelp killer people think it is. He believes Facebook is testing the water to see how users interact with this type of service.
He notes that it is not built for mobile, has a strange url, doesn’t utilize Facebook’s social graph and most importantly doesn’t play to the strengths of Facebook. He does indicate that Facebook is onto something and slowly making it’s way into the local search market. He believes that Facebook will eventually create a Yelp killer.
Facebook has been silently trying to increase its share of the search market, and Ross states that this is what people should be afraid of. Most notably, the search toolbar has been relocated to the top of the Facebook page. When you type in your search, Facebook, for the first time in the company’s history, it is no longer putting people as the first results. It has now made the conscience decision to rather place results for things ahead of people.
US users spend on average 40 minutes per day on Facebook, or more than 20% of their time online (Source). If Facebook can make it the place people go to find friends and a local activity it could have significant implication on lead generation for your business and tours.
Make sure that your are monitoring and managing your Facebook reviews as they could start providing a better way for their users to find your tour.
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