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NYT Chronicles Pizza A Casa’s TripAdvisor Drama

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Pizza a Casa, the learn-to-make-pie-at-home school at 371 Grand St., is having a New York Times moment today.

Reporter David Koeeppel delivers an interesting blow-by-blow account of the school’s battle with TripAdvisor, a travel site that categorizes and rates dining, lodging and entertainment venues for tourists. A few months ago, thanks to rave reviews from its students, Pizza a Casa sat atop the list of NYC attractions–above other “things to do” such as visit the Statue of Liberty, for example. Class sign-ups rolled in and owner Mark Bello was thrilled.

And then, TripAdvisor reclassified Pizza a Casa as a “tour” instead of an “attraction” and everything changed. An e-mail battle ensued.  The term “tour” was dissected and debated. Consultants were consulted.

An excerpt:

In the five weeks before being shifted to a different category,  the company sold 68 class tickets to people who found the school through TripAdvisor for a total of $10,200.  Between Nov. 7 and Tuesday, it had sold 26 tickets for a total of $3,900.

Mr. Bello suspected that perhaps a rival business or a TripAdvisor advertiser had grown envious of his school’s meteoric rise and sought to have it removed.

TripAdvisor customer representatives told Pizza a Casa that the business had been reclassified as part of the Web site’s wider reorganization and that it would eventually be put in a category for classes and workshops.  The representatives said that complaints had been made that the attractions category had become “unwieldy.”

Kevin Carter, a spokesman for TripAdvisor, said that “as far as we know” there were no complaints about Pizza a Casa, and it was not singled out because of advertiser pressure.

“The rationale for this decision was that tours and classes are closely related because they are activities, whereas attractions are permanent structures like museums, amusement parks and gardens,” Mr. Carter wrote in an e-mail message.

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