|This page in a nutshell: Do not use Wikivoyage as a tool for advertising or promotion. If you are a business owner please ensure that any contribution you make to Wikivoyage is information that a neutral editor would agree is not promotional and improves the guides for travelers. If you are a marketer or employed by a business chain you should not add listings for properties operated by that chain to Wikivoyage.|
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.
Wikivoyage specifically strives to avoid being an "advertising brochure" for any business, city, or service. Business employees, like everyone, are welcome to add information to Wikivoyage, but we're making a travel guide, not a business brochure, so Wikivoyage should not be used as a tool for advertising.
Edits might be reverted as touting if any of the following guidelines aren't followed:
- Don't list the same place many times. Yes, a guesthouse may have a restaurant, a bar, an Internet café and a dance show, but you need to pick one of "See", "Eat", "Drink", "Sleep" and "Connect" 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 (use the article's talk page to discuss these rare instances). Also note that businesses should be listed in only one article for the town or district in which the business operates; if an article about the town has not yet been created, create it.
- Avoid first person pronouns. Never say our restaurant, or we provide.
- Don't add listings for booking services or general travel planning. Wikivoyage has fairly strict criteria on what tour company listings are allowed in articles, and these criteria disallow listings for most travel agencies or tour resellers.
- Don't add more than one URL for 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!"). Related to this point, don't write in ALL-CAPS. On the internet writing in all capital letters is considered shouting and is highly discouraged.
- 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 objectively true and of specific interest to the traveler.
- Don't move your listing to the top. In most cases listings should be ordered alphabetically within a section. Moving a listing to the top of the list for any reason other than alphabetization is considered touting.
- Be concise. One sentence to one paragraph of factual information is reasonable, an entire section (or subsection) of an article devoted to singing the praises of one random hotel or restaurant is not - especially if much of the listing is fluff (...it's great to enjoy leisurely, sunny summer afternoons here!) or the owner's opinion of their own product.
- Avoid 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 attached to the convention center or right on the pier then note that using the "directions" attribute of the listing tag, but otherwise save descriptions of the area's attractions for the "See" section. Instead, contribute detailed lat-long coordinates of the property (see Wikivoyage:Geocoding)—it will be much more helpful for a traveler choosing a place to stay.
- 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. Listings that include such references but provide no mention of why the business is highly rated offer little value to travelers; a long list of accolades is no substitute for actually describing the establishment.
- Don't include referral codes in URLs. Some businesses use referral codes to track where traffic to their web site is coming from (example: http://example.com/site.html?from=wikivoyage). Referral codes don't benefit travelers and will lead to removal of the listing.
Guidelines for business owners
If you own a business or work for a marketing company you should expect that your edits will come under more scrutiny than those contributed by travelers. As noted previously, business employees, like everyone, are welcome to add information to Wikivoyage, but anything seen as advertising is likely to be removed. Additionally, 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 Wikivoyage guides. To make a contribution that is less likely to be removed:
- Follow all of the guidelines above to avoid having your contribution identified as touting.
- Create a user account and identify yourself as the owner of the business on your user page (but don't advertise the business there). 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.
- Include exact prices. We know you hate to do this, but listings without pricing information may be deleted. Vague terms like "reasonable" or "affordable" are worse than useless. If prices vary, provide a price range (example: "$100-$200, varies by season").
- Do not edit war. If your listing is removed look at the article history or, if a private message notification pops up on your screen, look at your user talk page to see why it was removed, and discuss it on the talk page for that article. Repeatedly re-adding a removed listing without first discussing why it was removed makes it more likely that editors will see your contributions as advertising, and less likely that your listing will be allowed.
Marketers and SEOs
Because there is an inherent conflict of interest when someone is being paid for their edits, if you are working for a hotel chain, a marketing agency, or a similar organization then you may not add listings for that business to Wikivoyage articles. Wikivoyage is not a yellow pages, so adding every individual location for a hotel brand or restaurant chain is not an appropriate use of this site. If a hotel is truly exceptional, or if a city has a very limited number of lodging options available, you may propose a listing to be added by suggesting it on the article's talk page, but do not add the listing yourself. Marketers that add multiple business listings should expect to see their contributions reverted, and in the worst case repeated violations of this policy may lead to blocking of the contributor's account and possibly blacklisting of the business in question.
Marketers and paid editors may make factual corrections to existing hotel listings, but these changes should be strictly limited to non-subjective information such as URLs or phone numbers. As explained above, do not remove negative information from a listing without first discussing the change; if a listing states that a hotel has a dated interior but the property has undergone recent renovation, point out this fact on the article's talk page and let someone else update the listing.
Good. The following is an example of a good business listing. It is properly formatted according to our manual of style, includes an estimated price range for a standard double room, and has a description that provides useful, factual information for a traveller:
- Anaheim Super Lodge, 123 First St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This 55-room hotel has a pool, 24-hour gym, free HBO, free Wi-Fi, two conference rooms, and a massive lobby fireplace. The on-site Super Restaurant is open 6AM-10PM daily and serves Asian-fusion cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere with prices from $10-30 per main course. An airport shuttle runs every thirty minutes. $100-200.
Bad. This listing is for the same hotel, but the address is improperly formatted, there is no contact information, no price range, and the description is pure marketing fluff:
- Anaheim Super Lodge (Anaheim), 123 First Street, Anaheim, CA 95555. The Anaheim Super Lodge is in Anaheim. Our luxurious hotel is a traveler's dream, located just minutes from the airport, shopping, and local attractions. Well-appointed rooms invite you to a wonderland ideal for your next business or pleasure trip.
Edits inserting such listings are routinely reverted.
- Welcome, business owners - Useful information for business owners who want to work with the Wikivoyage community.
- Template:Tout - A template that can be placed on the user talk pages of editors who have made promotional edits to provide them with a standardized message about why their edit was removed, and how they can contribute constructively.
- 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 Wikivoyage.
- Apartment/Rental listings - Guidelines on when it is appropriate to list an apartment or holiday home rental agency on Wikivoyage.
- Tone - Overview of the tone to use in Wikivoyage articles.
- Be fair - How to approach reviews of businesses and destinations.
- The traveller comes first - The golden rule of Wikivoyage - 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 - Guidelines on some words to avoid in listings and articles.