The owners of a cafe bistro in Glasson Dock which was rated ‘number one place to eat in Lancaster’ by TripAdvisor reviewers say a change to the travel website’s listings could “wipe out” their business.
A year ago, the Lantern O’er Lune made the top spot out of more than 200 places to eat in the Lancaster area, having been listed as a Lancaster restaurant for the last six years.
It was also rated consistently in the top 10 in the county.
However, last month the cafe was no longer listed by TripAdvisor as being in Lancaster; instead, it was in a new sub-category all of its own, and later under a Lancaster District heading.
Co-owner Mel Wagstaff said: “Glasson Dock’s postal town and governing council is Lancaster, its postal address is ‘Glasson Dock, Lancaster’ and despite there being other restaurant businesses in Glasson Dock itself and many further afield in neighbouring Condor Green, Cockerham and Dolphinholme, only The Lantern was removed from the Lancaster Listing so we wondered why we could have been singled out.”
An email discussion followed between Mel and TripAdvisor, who insisted the cafe was now listed at the correct address.
They said: “It is TripAdvisor’s policy to place a listing in the most specific destination possible, and we cannot move any listings to a different town than where they are actually physically located.
“Our listing editors have changed the geo structure on TripAdvisor for the Lancaster area. The geo structure has changed so that Glasson Dock, along with several other geos, is no longer attached to the city of Lancaster but directly to the Lancaster district.
Mel said: “Apparently there are 512 restaurants in this listing though on closer inspection you’ll find, as well as restaurants which are in the ‘Lancaster District’, there are also some in Burnley and Bacup.
“Despite assurances that The Lantern has not been singled out, every other business local to us here in Glasson (and those listed even further from Lancaster itself) are still listed in Lancaster so how can this be so?
“Furthermore, despite a good look around TripAdvisor we can find no other town or city which has a ‘District’ listing.
“Whilst we don’t expect for a minute that TripAdvisor will reverse their action, indeed by speaking out we may actually incur a TripAdvisor penalty, we realise that we are not the only business that TripAdvisor has the apparent power to cripple or destroy however hard it has worked to gain recognition and reputation.
“I don’t believe I am exaggerating when I say this can wipe out a business.
“We are outlying businesses that will often be found through searches such as TripAdvisor. Since the changes to our listing we have effectively vanished and the damage this could cause could be catastrophic.”
A TripAdvisor spokesman said: “While we do understand that sometimes business owners of properties located in small villages wish to have their businesses listed in larger towns or cities nearby, our policy is to list businesses in the most specific destination possible.
“We believe restaurant information that is as specific and accurate as possible is what is of most use to diners.
“For that reason, we only list cafes/restaurants as being within a town or city if it can be shown the business is located within the official borders of that destination.
“Our team liaised directly with Lancaster City Council to clarify the official boundaries of the city.
“Based on that information, we determined that the cafe was located outside the city’s boundaries, and so we updated the business’ TripAdvisor page to reflect this.”