With a new feature calledYelp [https://crunchbase.com/organization/yelp]Connect,
Yelp is allowing users to go beyond customer reviews and see ?what the
restaurants have to say for themselves.?
That?s according to Devon Wright, Yelp?s general manager of restaurant
marketplaces. He explained that with Yelp Connect, restaurants will be able to
post updates about things like recent additions to the menu, happy hour specials
and upcoming events. These updates are then shown on the Yelp homepage (which is
already becoming more personalized
[https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/27/yelp-personalization/]), in a weekly email
and on the restaurant?s profile page.
Consumers, meanwhile, can follow restaurants to see these updates, but Yelp also
shows them to users who have indicated interest in a restaurant by making a
reservation, joining its waitlist or bookmarking its profile.
Of course, restaurants are already posting this kind of information on social
media, but Wright said Yelp allows them to reach ?a high-intent audience? ?
people who aren?t just browsing for updates from their friends, but are actually
looking to go out for a meal.
Guang Yang, the group product manager for Yelp Reservations and Waitlist, also
noted that restaurants can set end dates for their Yelp posts, which could make
them more comfortable sharing things like limited-time menus.
Yelp Connect will cost $199 per month for U.S. restaurants, but is available for
a limited time at a price of $99 per month.
Wright described this is part of a broader evolution at Yelp, where ?you don?t
just want to discover a great restaurant, you want to transact [with] that
restaurant.? So the company has added things like reservations, with Connect
serving as ?the final piece of that journey,? allowing restaurants to continue
reaching out to consumers after their visit.
In addition to launching Connect, Yelp is also announcing an upgrade to its
Waitlist feature, which allows consumers to see the current estimated wait time
at a restaurant, and to join the queue directly from the Yelp app.
Yang said Yelp can now use real wait time data from a restaurant to predict the
average wait at a given time ? so if you want to get dinner tonight at 7pm, Yelp
can tell how long you?ll probably have to wait. (These estimates are based on a
party size of two; you?ll enter your real party size and get an updated estimate
when you actually join the waitlist.)
Yelp is also using these predictions to power an additional feature called
Notify Me. If you want to get seated at a certain restaurant at a certain time,
you can hit a button to get a notification that will prompt you to join the
waitlist at the right time ? if you want to eat at 7pm, and the average wait
time at 7pm is an hour, then you?ll get a notification at 6pm.
Yang said the algorithm is ?pretty sophisticated,? and even incorporates some of
the common situations that can confound these estimates, like kitchen closing
times, or popular restaurants that have long a waitlist as soon as they open.
Still, he acknowledged that there will be times when the actual is different
from what?s predicted, which may be challenging when you?ve told all your
friends to meet you somewhere at a given time. But in those cases, he said most
restaurants ?acknowledge and understand, ?Oh, something happened, wait time
changed,? ? and they?ll make accommodations if you show up later.