I keep a regular eye on Tablas Creek's reviews on TripAdvisor and on Yelp. Reading these reviews helps me keep an eye out for potential problems, and also gives me a good overall sense of what people are thinking about the experience they have when they visit Tablas Creek. Happily, it's overwhelmingly positive.
I have noticed a recent trend away from Yelp and toward TripAdvisor. For years Yelp was the dominant review site. Between 2005 and early 2011, Yelp tallied 69 reviews of Tablas Creek to only 5 for TripAdvisor. In fact, I didn't even start watching TripAdvisor until mid-2011. But in the last year, we've received an equal number of reviews (23) on each site, and so far in 2012, TripAdvisor has tallied 13 reviews to just 5 on Yelp. The chart below will give you a sense of how the trend has changed recently.
Both Yelp and TripAdvisor are powerful players in travel, dining and entertainment. Per month, Yelp claims 66 million unique visitors, while TripAdvisor claims 50 million. And the prominent placing of both sites' reviews in search engine rankings means that increasingly, consumers are using these sites in addition to or instead of the more traditional printed brochures and regional association Web sites that they would have used even a few years ago. They have the advantages (and disadvantages) of crowd-sourced opinions, combining the perception of incorruptibility with the idiosyncracies of uncurated information. But their net impact is tremendous, and is only likely to grow.
It's possible that we're starting to see some specialization between the two sites, which have essentially identical interfaces and market niches. I know that I tend to think of Yelp as specializing in dining, and TripAdvisor as specializing in travel. But a quick look at a few local restaurants suggests that TripAdvisor may be making significant inroads here as well. Artisan shows 30 TripAdvisor reviews so far in 2012, but only 20 Yelp reviews (2011 and earlier shows 311 reviews on Yelp and 198 on TripAdvisor). Il Cortile shows 16 reviews on TripAdvisor in 2012 (compared to just 40 before) and 17 on Yelp (compared to 123 before). And Thomas Hill Organics shows 25 reviews on TripAdvisor (compared to 48 before) and 35 on Yelp (compared to 180 before). Even if TripAdvisor still trails Yelp slightly in the restaurant world, it's clear that its trend is positive.
I know that lots of wineries have claimed and edited their profiles on Yelp, and many have also chosen to advertise with them, perhaps encouraged by the aggressive advertising sales push that many wineries, including Tablas Creek, received last year. I don't see the same level of engagement with TripAdvisor.
Our experience suggests that neglecting TripAdvisor is a mistake.