One thing which I really like about TripAdvisor, compared to other travel websites, is their firm insistence on showing the real locations of businesses. Where some travel websites might suggest that a hotel is located in Jasper, Alberta when it is actually located in a town as an hour's drive away, TA's policy is to only show Jasper hotels as being located in Jasper.
(TA's policy is spelled out clearly here: tripadvisor.ca/help/i_am_listed_in_an_small_… )
However, this can also be a problem, if you are actually interested in resarching the outlying area. The main reason people are interested in outlying areas is for accommodations which are cheaper, quieter, or have more character than accommodations in the area's major centre. However, they might also be looking for unusual or off-the-beaten path dining or attractions. Travellers who want to check out these options will find that TA's current system is not very helpful.
I think the most important characteristic of any solution to this situation would be to make it clear that the businesses listed are in the area of that main destination, not actually *in* that destination. So, in the case of the Jasper, Alberta example, TA members would have to click a link that said something like "Show me businesses that are not in Jasper but are in the general Jasper area" (perhaps just "near Jasper" would be enough). There would also be a prominent reminder, when the results were displayed, that these businesses are *not* in Jasper - "click the Jasper, Alberta link to see properties that are located within Jasper, Alberta" - and that TA members should double-check the property's address or location map before booking, in order to make sure that they are aware of the real location. Without a separate link for "near <Destination>" listings, and a reminder to double-check the actual location, this new functionality will not be an improvement, in my opinion.
Here are a few questions for my fellow TA members, in the hope of working out a solution that TA can implement.
1. Do you see a place for this kind of "outlying functionality" on TA? Do you think that other travellers to destinations that you are familiar with might find it helpful?
2. Do you think that you would use such a feature or find it helpful?
3. How should TA identify businesses that are "near" a destination? Should the business owners/managers be allowed to designate one (or two?) destination(s) that they are "near", if they are not actually located in that destination? Should it be map based? (for example, "Within 30 miles/50 km of <Destination>")
4. Any other comments or concerns you might have (as usual, of course).
* Note to TA moderators: Please do not move this to the Owners' forum - I think this subject is of interest to all TA members
** Note to Owners: This isn't discussion is about improving the current system without changing TA's policy on where properties are listed. If you want to just suggest a change to TA's policy, or complain about it, please put that on a different thread.