What are we going to do with Places?

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Todd, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. roan22

    roan22 Zealot (503) Jun 30, 2004 New Jersey

    People on Yelp do not talk about the beer selection specifically, and they aren't coming from a BA point of view. I don't want to have to search for beer+food either. Most Yelps are complaints and the website sucks.
  2. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Poo-Bah (1,610) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Places is a very important feature to me - I use it when traveling. Agree it needs to be revamped though....the current rating categories just aren’t that useful.

    As some others have suggested, something that would indicate number of taps, food on premises, Tv’s (yes/no), beer to go, games (board games, cornhole), etc.... would be helpful.
  3. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,821) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I mean, sometimes they do, especially if the beer selection is good. Right now finding a restaurant with a good beer list requires that someone on BA added it. That is decreasingly likely as new places have opened up over the last 5 years. And then if one person added it and maybe reviewed it how many others have added thoughtful reviews? In my experience, if looking for a beer friendly restaurant you just post a question in the regional forum about where you will be and what's around and you get a mountain of great answers. It's pretty silly, in my view, to expect BA to provide you with a comprehensive list of restaurants with good beer in any given area, complete with enough reviews to be meaningful
    roan22 likes this.
  4. roan22

    roan22 Zealot (503) Jun 30, 2004 New Jersey

    If there is a name of a place with a website link that is also helpful, but it does depend on people adding them. I like to add places, and its important to encourage other BAs to add places.
    Squire likes this.
  5. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,821) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I think that's the question here, given that place ratings are down 75%, what can we do to encourage more ratings. Just keeping it the same seems like a terrible choice so what changes would you make that might encourage more users to contribute to this part of the site?
  6. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,360) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    I believe users should be able to continue to use Places, I find it very helpful, especially when travelling.

    There are over 100,000 ratings, very significant input. Changes, improvements is one thing, but disabling future ratings I believe will make the site less valuable.
    Jacobier10, roan22, Jaycase and 5 others like this.
  7. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,135) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I've always taken the approach that if I add a place then I should also rate it. But is the Places feature better enhanced if breweries and other places are added with no rating and/or review given? For example, the BA Places feature has just a little over 300 breweries for Michigan, but the Michigan Beer Guide, which also has a brewery directory, has a little over 360 breweries listed. I could easily parse out the missing ones and add them here. At least these new ones would be accessible by BA members who do a search, they just wouldn't get any ratings or reviews until I or other BAs get there to be the first.


    You can't discuss things in Places since it is not a forum, so the answer has to be forum.
  8. rousee

    rousee Meyvn (1,040) Aug 13, 2004 Massachusetts

    I hope nothing. It is my most used part of the site and also the one I contribute to most often as well. Granted, I haven't added any in a while as I have not been traveling as much as I used to.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  9. cryptichead

    cryptichead Poo-Bah (1,662) Jul 3, 2014 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I rely heavily on Places when I travel or just go to a different neighborhood.

    I did notice that the ratings have dwindled and it makes sense to revive or evolve the feature. Changing the ratings to a thumbs up/down might make sense if additional categories are added. Maybe creating a trending Places feature? Or notices when a "hot" new place opened up nearby?

    Ultimately, based on the decreased usage of Places it makes sense to evolve, but I hope that the data and the ability to find and rate places does not go away.
    jmdrpi, ChicagoJ and Harrison8 like this.
  10. bowzer4birdie

    bowzer4birdie Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2012 Illinois

    Get rid of it. Good beer generally equates to good places within reasonable focus of this site's current budget / vision. Focus your resources elsewhere making it more robust from an IT perspective especially with real-time apps.
    "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."
    #50 bowzer4birdie, Nov 19, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
    Todd likes this.
  11. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,135) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    If the Places feature were to be enhanced to attract more users, here are some thoughts:
    1. Performing a search on a major city can only return places in that city. I'd like to see a search option for the entire suburban area too, such as the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) so I don't have to search all of the individual suburbs too when planning a pub crawl.
    2. Once a list is compiled from a search it would be nice to have a Print button to get a copy of the list for planning use. (And eliminate the 'Country' and 'State' from the list since it isn't important info in the search results.)
    3. The ideal configuration of the Places>Nearby feature would not only pull up the street map, but a GPS service with verbal driving instructions to the place selected would be an' over the top' feature. (Okay, that's the same as a 'pie in the sky' request.)
    4. It would also be nice to be able to qualify the Nearby map to show only Breweries or Bars, etc.
    5. A search option to look for Places (especially Breweries/Eateries) along a driving route and within 5 miles (or 10, or 25, etc.) of the highway would aid in planning where to stop on a trip or for the night.
    6. Would the Places feature be more visible if there was a Travels forum created that would be a place that includes a link to the Places search screen on a sticky note? That forum could be a place to post recommendation requests, questions about specific breweries, reports back about the results of a pub crawl, etc? To make this forum serviceable, any posts would have to include the State(s) in the subject line so members could read threads that are local to them, or perhaps sub-forums for each BA geographical region.
    That's all I have for now. Maybe more later after I've thought some more about this.
    PABrewReview, rudzud, frazbri and 9 others like this.
  12. bowzer4birdie

    bowzer4birdie Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2012 Illinois

    I understand your desires but you are asking much more of this site if it is to stay true to it's mission and vision as a pure advocate. An advocate is to support and recommend towards a policy which, for this site, is beer and how this site can support and be a proper advocate of beer (first and foremost). This site is not a GPS platform, for example, nor is it deemed a vacation destination site akin to Travelzoo or Orbitz. One can easily determine one's requirements from those sites..let's leave this site be and focus on advocacy in a more robust and future form. Places info can be had elsewhere, this site needs every $$$ bang for its buck and the future is not in Places.
    #52 bowzer4birdie, Nov 19, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
    Todd likes this.
  13. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,268) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    I couldn't agree more. Investing resources with no financial gain into a section that has significantly declined in recent years makes absolutely zero sense.

    To reinforce this, in the last 30 days the Places section made up only 1.42% of our traffic. Down 40% for the same period last year.

    Traffic has shifted to Beers and Forums. We need to shift, too. That's one of the reasons why Events has been nuked (ICYMI, but you probably didn't) and Top Rated is now a main navigation item.
  14. bowzer4birdie

    bowzer4birdie Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2012 Illinois

    Spot on. I have other ideas to share if you want to chat offline.
    Todd likes this.
  15. sulldaddy

    sulldaddy Poo-Bah (4,037) Apr 6, 2003 Connecticut
    Society Trader

    I have to respectfully disagree that providing guidance and increased accessibilty to and locations of craft beer establishments is not advocacy.

    Each of these places are businesses first and foremost, so they need patrons and consumers to keep them producing their fine wares (beer).

    Helping vacationing BA during their travels to find these establishments will certainly be a net positive for all involved.
    If I am travelling out of State and want to plan the limited amount of time I may have to visit the likely most enjoyable and best producing etablishments, then I strongly suggest BA is Exactly the location I should go to for finding that information.
    So I would like to see the enhancements mentioned in this thread for making nearby a more functional feature of places.

    And I pledge to do a better job of increasing my input of place reviews while at home and while travelling.
  16. bowzer4birdie

    bowzer4birdie Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2012 Illinois

    Nope. Beyond this site's mission and vision and it's financial resources. You can get everything you want with a bit more activity into this site's forums. Need to know where to plan your next beer vacation? No need to go to Places! That is the last place, quite frankly, I would want to visit.
  17. sulldaddy

    sulldaddy Poo-Bah (4,037) Apr 6, 2003 Connecticut
    Society Trader

    I wont start a prolonged back and forth as we obviously disagree. And I hear the financial resources piece.
    The forums are a great resource if you have time to plan. But if you would need a quicker turnaround on local info an enhanced user filtered map would be a perfect solution, and IMO would likely drive up the use of places on the site.

    perhaps the declining use is more a symptom of the tail wagging the dog with decreased functionality of "nearby" in the mapping application?

    im only speculating but something to think about. Investing in the functionality, would increase usefulness and may in turn increase user traffic.
  18. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (9,664) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    I was thinking to include pertinent information - kid-friendly, dog-friendly, kitchen, food trucks, loud volume, crowlers, growlers, etc. Things I would want to know before I stop in to visit a Place so that I am not surprised/disappointed.
  19. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (9,664) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    Possibly... I often add new semi-local breweries when they open so I can add/review the beers but might be quite a while before I get the chance to visit the actual Place.
  20. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,302) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Personally, I've fallen out with the forums and have not always found users to be helpful in answering my regional requests. Especially with the last minute nature of my business trips. For these reasons, I rarely visit the regional sections of the forums.

    Will a decision regarding whether or not 'places' stays on the site be reached quickly?

    With the recent responses by @Todd I'm reluctant to spend any further time reviewing and adding places with the implication that those entries will be nixed. It's not my decision if they stay or go, I simply don't want to waste my time.
  21. bowzer4birdie

    bowzer4birdie Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2012 Illinois

    No disrespect intended, sir. I am unsure of what your solutions are.
    I am saying: Revenue first and foremost. Kill or be killed and still provide a world-class experience. This site can do that. Too much redundancy here, too many layers and need to refocus on LEAN initiatives.
    sulldaddy and Harrison8 like this.
  22. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,302) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I've stumbled into several places I've added over the years that I never reviewed. My intent was to review upon adding, but with the delay in approval, I simply forgot to return to review. This is especially bad when I travel for work. I may add a place upon visiting, but as I never cross paths with the place again in my daily life, never get a reminder to review, leaving behind a trail of blank place entries.
  23. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,135) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    This is the best beer site that I'm aware of, and with international membership one can say it is world-class. We have a feature here that could be enhanced and help increase membership, or website 'hits' which from a marketing standpoint should justify higher advertising rates (if I understand media marketing correctly). So I why not fix an identified 'problem' to improve that world-class experience?

    And if part of the "redundancy" that you mention is that searching Places can be replaced with posts in the forums, I'll disagree with that. I'd much rather get a list, pick some good candidates for a visit, then read some recent reviews. The forum route might be okay if you're only going to visit one place, but I'm usually planning a pub crawl and I don't want to rely on place names from a forum.
    rudzud, tobelerone, roan22 and 7 others like this.
  24. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (5,019) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    It sucks that the Places section has significantly declined. It was and still is my favorite part of BA, but have definitely seen a decrease in reviews and activity in adding new places. For the Houston section one of my reviews from March I did for a brewery is still considered a "recent visit." Generally I would hate to have this section reduced in any way, as all the attributes we can currently rate and write on are very important. I'm not a very good pitch person for new ideas, but if the developers/Bros have a better way of getting traffic and user ship up, without taking away what is currently great about it, then I'm all for a face lift.
  25. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (3,783) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Even being from Europe, this is my favorite beer site, but let's not kid ourselves here, it's hardly "international". The Society statistics that were released a while ago put the percentage of non-US members at less than 5%, IIRC and I can count the active forum posters from Europe on both hands, while posters from other locales seem to be pretty much non-existant.
  26. goingbrokeonbeer

    goingbrokeonbeer Poo-Bah (1,748) Dec 4, 2013 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    I travel a lot for work and one of the first things I do when I get to a hotel is look at Places “Nearby”.
    mactrail, Redrover, jmdrpi and 9 others like this.
  27. GratefulBeerGuy

    GratefulBeerGuy Poo-Bah (3,235) May 20, 2006 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    I'm here to keep track of my Beer ratings..I don't just rate, I write a review for every single beer. As long as I can keep track of the places I visit for the BEER. I don't really care about commenting on the other aspects of the establishment except for the BEER.
    rudzud and Squire like this.
  28. officerbill

    officerbill Crusader (777) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    A working “nearby” would be great. Being able to see where breweries are in relation to your location (“oh good, there are three breweries within five miles of my hotel”) instead of bouncing back & forth between BA and Google maps is a huge benefit to travelers. Unfortunately it hasn't been maintained in quite a while. To use Syracuse as an example; “places” lists 13 breweries in the city while “nearby” shows 4 for the metro.
  29. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (943) Jul 7, 2005 District of Columbia

    So this might get long, but I have some Thoughts.

    Once upon a time, Places was incredibly valuable (at least, to me), particularly when visiting major cities for travel. It always has lacked a good mapping feature to compliment it (please forgive if that has existed at various times; it very well may have, but I've never found it consistently to remember taking advantage of it. Now, mapping features have their own problems (good luck opening up Untappd and then trying to sort through the comprehensive listings; the default listings near me on H Street show 20-30 listings, and the default venue that appears is for a...pie shop. This isn't helpful), but they're also critical when looking at a list of top ranked places to see what's near me (think Eater maps).

    It seems unlikely the BA will catch up with sheer number of ratings with Untappd anytime in the immediate future, so it seems silly to compete solely on features. I do think, however, you have the opportunity to tap into the dedicated, longtime community here to carve out a niche...although I do think you need to reach feature parity on a few key things as well.

    (1) A usable app
    I know it's under development (I just downloaded the latest beta), but really need to give people a way to use Places on the go, whether to find places or review them. Needs to be easy to make and see reviews, add photos. And it probably needs a tap list solution, although with so many places using Untappd already a solution there seems less immediately clear.

    Where you could differentiate yourself is with....

    (2) Curated city lists
    One unique feature that you have already are the city guides, which would be a great place to start. It's a shorter list of the much larger complete Places guides. I know in some cities you also have (or had) community members who would create their own "if you visit this city" guides. Build on this. I already mentioned Eater but I'll bring it back up here as a content play. Custom city maps with editorial oversight that makes places manageable and usable for people traveling (or who want to explore their city) would be helpful and usable, and ALSO provide a vector for conversation / debate.

    You could go the local contributor route, you could spend more or less time or money, but simply by having regularly updated lists, you'd have a differentiator in the marketplace.

    Anyway, I haven't found a good, usable places-for-beer experience that meets my interests or needs, ever, and I suspect that I'm not the only one who could use one.

    In all seriousness if you're looking for a prototype or design consultancy, feel free to contact me, it's what I do.
    meanmutt, rudzud, roan22 and 6 others like this.
  30. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (943) Jul 7, 2005 District of Columbia

    To state the obvious, that's not necessarily true. It's a chicken or egg thing, did people stop going because there's a better solution elsewhere they're already happy with, because the current site doesn't meet their needs, or or or or or...

    Yes, there needs to be a way to monetize it, but personally I stopped using places because it never entirely fit my needs, so once I was ever-so-slightly less focused on beer, it was an easy drop. As in my previous post, I travel a lot, and move fairly frequently, there's a big gap between what I want from an app or experience than I see in the marketplace today.

    A good solution may not be right for BA, of course, but your declining engagement numbers only tell you that your existing solution doesn't meet people's needs, not that there isn't an experience people are looking for, generally.

    Events had the same problem, it wasn't terribly usable. It wasn't that the idea of building a community and event posting list was bad, but there is a ton of competition for this advertising. The experience of visiting the events tab and then having to user filter tools to find something near me, sucked. Now, I'm also no longer your target demographic for events because I...don't really attend beer events anymore. But when I did, the experience was lacking. I still see posts in the forums for meetings and gatherings, so maybe forums are just a better home for that, and there are expensive apps (beyond beer) that integrate events features, already, so maybe there's no missing angle there, it was just inevitably an uphill battle.

    In summary, it is certainly true that if features or neglected or stay stagnant that people will eventually find a better alternative. Is Places a feature that you see an angle on that you could deliver a better experience than you see out there in the marketplace?

    But if you're not going to revamp it significantly, yeah, ditch it.
  31. emerge077

    emerge077 Poo-Bah (12,376) Apr 16, 2005 Illinois
    Society Trader

    As a travel resource, the Places directory and place reviews have guided me to countless rewarding beer experiences. No other website really comes close for that, imho. Place reviews are invaluable as a community knowledge base, same goes for beer reviews.

    People use the site for different reasons, not everyone travels or searches for places to go, but for those who do, it's very useful. The section could definitely be more user-friendly though, and ultimately that would be a great improvement.

    A few more ideas to consider:
    • Add interactive features like check-ins, posting what beer you're drinking there, photos, current drafts, etc.
    • Integrate more with social media by adding a feed for recent postings from the business on their listing page, via twitter, instagram, or wherever.
    • Give businesses the option to purchase a small ad block on their BA listing page.
    PABrewReview, jmdrpi, roan22 and 8 others like this.
  32. gatornation

    gatornation Poo-Bah (7,986) Apr 18, 2007 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Agree as always. Places are a very valuable resource both for BA as a company and for its members. We all want to know where to shop ,drink.,eat brew in the vibe that is most appealing to each of us.When i see a place that is close to where i will be ,but without review i a least check out the places website. Maybe a pared down version with quick viewable information,if people dont want to review. Right now places are a valuable tool that is vastly underused and that should not be the case.
  33. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (943) Jul 7, 2005 District of Columbia

    This is another point, that sometimes a feature doesn't generate a ton of traffic, but is immensely important to a smaller subset of your audience. Pure traffic numbers won't reveal this.
    seanchai, rudzud, roan22 and 6 others like this.
  34. gatornation

    gatornation Poo-Bah (7,986) Apr 18, 2007 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    How would BA make this more important to a larger audience. For instance when i book a VRBO i research read reviews look to where it is located (close to airport ,beach restaurants) its valuable information that no matter what age most want to know what is available ,same for beer and places . IMO.
  35. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (943) Jul 7, 2005 District of Columbia

    When I took a trip to VT the amount of information here was overwhelming, it wasn't until I found a relatively "definitive" thread and even that was suspect.

    But for food, I found an article from Bon Appetit that had a local chef and coffee roaster going through their local recommendations. I cross-referenced this with review sites, but that was the foundational piece.

    In both cases, I was annoyed and frustrated by the amount of work I had to go through to find a list to start from that balanced a relative amount of "definitiveness" with enough authenticity and context for me to evaluate how much I could trust it (and where or why not I might disagree).

    There are too many places with exceedingly lengthy and comprehensive lists with questionable ratings, which don't hold up much past the first small handful. Curated lists with an editorial perspective are of interest and value.

    BA could work with super users locally, establishing general standards. Or users who are former food critics for a small city (*cough* *cough*). They could use their connections in the beer industry to interview local brewers or owners. They could find dependable beer writers from other sites that aren't exclusive to them (the Kate Bernots of the world) and have them write features on the cities they live in. They should definitely look back at all the various versions of this that got created for BA magazine and determine whether those are a worthy starting place.

    The best part is, as long as the lists are GOOD, you don't have to be comprehensive out of the gate. Establish an editorial standard and then you have something to point to if you're having trouble soliciting the right writer in whatever city.
    rudzud, roan22, ChicagoJ and 3 others like this.
  36. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (160) Mar 15, 2014 California

    I think rating a place is important to an extent, at least in the way of allowing other BAs the opportunity to know if a place gouges for rarer beers or does shady biz in any way as it pertains to the beer. Are the bars pouring beers in dirty glasses? Abusing the beer? Pouring beers that aren't fresh? I would love to know which places are places to avoid if I'm in a new area. As I've brought up in the past however, I do think it should be easier for a place to be claimed but thats another topic for another thread.
    ChicagoJ and PapaGoose03 like this.
  37. StonedTrippin

    StonedTrippin Poo-Bah (21,073) May 28, 2011 Colorado

    I would be really bummed if we lost the ability to review places. Who cares if its slow? It is such an important part of traveling and planning a visit to a new market, and its fun to keep track of on the user side. Bars, stores, whatever can go, but we ought to keep the ability to review breweries in tact. Similarly, I feel like its important to be able to review old beers, especially as cellaring is becoming increasingly popular, sometimes breweries close before you can drink the beer, but does that make the beer not worth commenting on? I personally dont think so. I also enjoy adding new places as they come up, if we get rid of places all together, do we lose this feature?
    rudzud, jmdrpi, tobelerone and 5 others like this.
  38. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,158) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    I think having a rating and review is good to show what a place might be like, just like with the beers. More information is better. If we can’t say anything about a place or even rate it by the standards given, how will people know what a place is like before visiting? They will probably just search on yelp or untappd or somewhere else for more details... I rate my places like I rate my beers. The higher rated ones are the places I enjoyed more, and there is a big difference between some of them that I wouldn’t want mistaken with an easy thumbs up or thumbs down option. Ratings can be very intricate and meaningful, and a review usually helps explain it. I do care less about the Places than the Beers on here though, probably because I drink more beers than visit new places. I’m sure if the places on here were to go away completely it wouldn’t change much for this site. There is always another source for information on the internet. The beers are obviously more important here, since the ratings are reviews tend to be more in depth than other sites.
    PapaGoose03 and ChicagoJ like this.
  39. StonedTrippin

    StonedTrippin Poo-Bah (21,073) May 28, 2011 Colorado

    Amen to this
  40. officerbill

    officerbill Crusader (777) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    It isn't necessary to require a review. A few catagories with checkboxes would be quick and easy as well as provide most of the information a person needs about an unfamiliar brewery.

    Variety: Good/Poor
    Service: Good/Poor
    Cleanliness: Good/Poor
    Atmosphere: Noisy/Quiet
    Food: Meals/Snacks/None
    Outdoor Area: Yes/No
    Wine/Liquor: Yes/No
    Child Friendly: Yes/No
    Pet Friendly: Yes/No

    These nine answers tell me pretty much what I need to know.
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