In many countries business owners hire touts to solicit customers. Touts go to train stations, airports, or open plazas and urge travelers to visit their employers' business.
Wikitravel specifically strives to avoid being an "advertising brochure" for any business, city, or service. Business employees, like everyone, are welcome to add information to Wikitravel, but we're making a travel guide, not a business brochure. Our tone should reflect this, so please don't tout in your writing, and don't use Wikitravel as a tool for advertising.
Try to avoid language that urges or pushes the traveler to do this or that. Instead, give the traveler the information they need to decide on their own. Rather than speaking from the point of view of an advertiser or marketeer, use the voice of an experienced traveler sharing knowledge with another.
Some specific considerations for anyone adding a listing:
- Don't list the same place many times. Yes, a guesthouse may have a restaurant, a bar, an internet cafe and a dance show, but you need to pick one of "See", "Eat", "Drink", "Sleep" and "Contact" to slot it under. That said, exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis if, for example, a hotel has a famous, separately named bar or restaurant that also draws significant numbers of non-resident customers. Also note that businesses should be listed in only one article for the town in which the business operates.
- Similarly, don't add more than one link to a place, neither on one page nor on different pages. There is never a reason to do so, and will mark your contributions as advertising spam in the eyes of other editors.
- Describe, don't urge. Use the indicative mood to describe ("The food at Restaurant X is freshly prepared when ordered."), rather than the imperative mood for commanding ("Come to Restaurant X and sample its delicious fare straight from the oven!").
- Avoid using flowery, vague terms in descriptions, instead describe why it is so great. "This stunningly wonderful hotel is fabulously luxurious!" is meaningless; "More staff than guests, three heated swimming pools, and each room has a jacuzzi, a bearskin rug in front of the fireplace and panoramic windows with views of the Mighty Mountains" tells much more. "Good music, terrific staff and a great atmosphere" could apply to any bar; "Dark, smoky den crowded with local hipsters, with knowledgeable bartenders and live jazz on Fridays" gives some idea of what to expect.
- Avoid superlatives (the best, the biggest, the tastiest, the most fascinating) unless they are of specific interest to the traveler.
- Avoid vague assertions of proximity to nearby attractions. The description section of a listing is for describing that listing, not the rest of the town. If it's on the opposite side of the street from the ferris wheel, note that, but otherwise save descriptions of the area's attractions for the "See" section. Instead, contribute detailed lat-long coordinates of the property (see Wikitravel:Geocoding)—it will be much more helpful for a traveler choosing a place to stay.
Guidelines for business owners
Business owners are encouraged to add information about their hotel, restaurant, or other travel-related business to Wikitravel, but the following guidelines should be followed (and if they are not, the listing will likely be removed!):
- Create a user account and identify yourself as the owner of the business on your user page. Doing so adds some transparency by clearly identifying you as a business owner, and also gives travelers a way to contact you with questions.
- Never remove competitors' listings from articles or edit them negatively. If there is a problem with a listing it can always be edited for accuracy, and if an establishment is truly vile it can be removed after being discussed on the article's talk page. Removing the listings of competing businesses without discussion is strongly frowned upon.
- Never remove negative comments left by others about your establishment. If you think the comments are unfair, say so on the Talk page and let the community reach a conclusion.
- As indicated above, describe; don't urge: describe the establishment rather than trying to sell it. Reviews by business owners won't be accepted: include only objective, verifiable facts in description; avoid any subjective information where you may have a conflict of interest (even if you attempt to summarize many first-hand reviews from a reputable travel review site). People use Wikitravel because it is a travel site built by travelers, and listings that read like advertisements tend to stand out in a negative way.
- Include exact prices. We know you hate to do this, but travelers will simply ignore listings that have no prices. Vague terms like "reasonable" or "affordable" are worse than useless.
- Also noted above, do not list your establishment many times. An establishment should be listed in the article for the town in which it is located, but it should be listed only once within that article and it should not be copied into articles about neighboring towns, regions, parks, etc. If an article about the town has not yet been created, create it.
- Avoid references to third-party ratings and rankings unless they are truly exceptional. For example, "Lonely Planet approved" should be avoided since there are thousands of businesses that are "Lonely Planet approved", but "rated the #2 hotel in the Middle East by Generic Travel Magazine in 2010" might be worth mentioning. Note that listings that include such references but that provide no mention of why the business is highly rated offer little value to travelers, so do not use this information instead of actually describing the establishment.
Advertising & SEO
rel="nofollow" so there is no SEO benefit to listing a website here.
Wikitravel is a travel guide, not a business directory or marketing tool, and while we welcome contributions from businesses, editors who add multiple listings that appear to be primarily for advertising or SEO purposes are likely to be reverted en masse. To maintain the quality and integrity of our guides it is expected that contributors working for hotel chains or similar businesses will remember that the traveler comes first and, in addition to the guidelines above, abide by the following guidelines:
- Create an account. Create a user account that you will use during editing and (ideally) specify the company you are working for on your user page. This makes communication easier, provides some transparency, and allows us to identify your edits.
- Format listings correctly. Other editors will fix mistakes made by contributors who add only one or two listings, but if you are adding multiple listings then it is up to you to make sure they adhere to the Wikitravel style guidelines. You must also include full information, including price ranges, a properly formatted address (do not include city/state/zip) and a useful description of the business.
- Do not use marketing language. Promotional language is highly discouraged, including use of the first person ("we", "our", "us"). Similarly, describe the business, not the attractions that are near it and do not use vague generalizations. "This luxurious hotel is a traveler's dream, located just minutes from the airport, and a half hour from downtown" is a description that will almost certainly lead to reversion since it provides no information useful to a traveler trying to choose amongst hotel offerings.
Contributors who add multiple business listings that do not meet these criteria should unfortunately expect to see those contributions reverted, and in the worst case repeated violations of this policy may lead to blacklisting of the business in question. Additionally, while we welcome contributions from everyone (really!), because the goals of creating a travel guide often differ from those of hotel chains, tourism boards, and other business entities contributors should be aware that there are no guarantees that even properly-formatted listings will always be kept in Wikitravel guides.
- Welcome, business owners - Useful information for business owners who want to work with the Wikitravel community.
- External links - Guidelines on what external links are appropriate and how they should be formatted.
- Tour listings - Guidelines on when it is appropriate to list a tour company on Wikitravel.
- Apartment/Rental listings - Guidelines on when it is appropriate to list a rental agency on Wikitravel.
- Tone - Overview of the tone to use in Wikitravel articles.
- Be fair - How to approach reviews of businesses and destinations.
- The traveller comes first - The golden rule of Wikitravel - the interests of the traveler always come first.
- Avoid negative reviews - It is often better not to list a business than to provide a negative review.
- Words to avoid - Guideline on some words to avoid in listings and articles.