Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tramuntana Is Number One

You can't or shouldn't take Trip Advisor at its word. Not for its rankings lists certainly. "Best restaurants" in a given a resort are often laughable. They become best not because they are but because someone has been clever in driving reviews. But sometimes these rankings do bear some semblance of a connection with reality. What is the number one attraction in Mallorca out of 221? If you guessed Pirates you would be wrong. It's number two, says Trip Advisor. At number one, and it is really quite heartening to find it at number one, is the Tramuntana mountain range.

The consortium which promotes the mountains and which was tasked with doing so following the declaration of the Tramuntana as a World Heritage Site has launched a website. About time, too, you might think. The declaration was made in 2011. Very little in promotional terms seems to have happened since. Better late than never, though.

The website is reasonable enough, and so it should be at a cost of 21 grand. It has a good amount of information and the English section, for once, seems to have actually been written in English and not passed through a Google Translate mangle or been Spanglished by a non-native speaker. It's reasonable in the worthy-but-dull sense of reasonable. Plenty of information, plenty of pictures, but no multimedia, interactivity or social media. This would probably cost too much.

Thanks to the press announcement of the site's launch, I knew of its existence and so went in search of it. I entered "Serra Tramuntana", and it was there in Google, though it might be confused with another website with the .eu suffix. The official one is .net. The first thing that occurred to me, though, was whether an English search would get to the site so easily. Its title is Catalan - Serra de Tramuntana - so would "Tramuntana mountains" work? They do. Very well. That's a big plus.

It was when checking that this English search was satisfactory that I noticed the fifth entry on the Google page. It was for the Serra de Tramuntana in Trip Advisor. Five of five stars, the abstract said, and on going into Trip Advisor, I found there were indeed five of five stars. Out of 196 reviews, 163 rated as excellent and 32 as very good. Not a hint of criticism, unless one considers a not-for-fainthearted warning for the route (by car) as being a criticism (which it isn't).

It is mightily reassuring and just a little surprising to find the Tramuntana at number one. It is reassuring in different ways. One very much doubts that someone is hard at it getting visitors to post positive reviews. They are, one has to presume, absolutely genuine and totally unsolicited. As such, it is an example of how one might hope that Trip Advisor would normally work but doesn't. There's nothing wrong at all in positive reviews being solicited - it's good business to do so because Trip Advisor is very powerful - but this can result in something of a credibility issue. We're back to some of those so-called "best restaurants".

A second way in which there is reassurance lies with the fact that the mountains are a natural attraction. Obviously they are. But the term attraction - in tourism circles - tends to mean something which isn't natural. We can all name some of them, and I would do, but to do so might imply a criticism when none is intended. It is the, shall we say, artificial attractions and the association that is made with them as "attractions" which makes the number-one position of the Tramuntana that much more surprising. Trip Advisor is hardly scientific, but occasionally it can be quite revealing, and this is one occasion. For all that Mallorca has its commercial tourist attractions, one that isn't commercial on account of it simply being there and that is ranked number one should tell a story. Mallorca's natural heritage is clearly appreciated and perhaps more so than might be thought.

The mountains can be enjoyed at any time of the year. I know how popular the excursion during the summer season is. As part of the island tour, it is probably the single most popular excursion that the island has to offer. But clearly, the mountains don't have to be enjoyed only during the summer season, and so one comes back, almost inevitably, to the theme of off-season tourism.

The hope with the World Heritage Site declaration was that this would lead to inroads being made into the absent off-season tourism through the promotion of the Tramuntana. With the website, at least there is some tangible evidence of this promotion, and with the Trip Advisor number-one ranking, there is evidence also of how impressed visitors are with the mountains.

Sometimes when number-one rankings are given, the relevant business or authority makes a point of saying so. Is anyone saying anything about the Tramuntana? This brings one back to the website. Because it seems to have neglected social media, there is no link to Trip Advisor and certainly no announcement of the ranking. A trick is being missed. Promotion isn't simply a case of spending twenty thousand euros on a website. One would have hoped that this would have been realised by now. Tramuntana. Number one on Trip Advisor.

* The web address is

1 comment:

Son Fe Mick said...

But McAfee says the sight is suspicious. Do they know something about the rating that you don't?
Best regards