Yelp Inc. (NYSE:YELP), the company that connects people with great local businesses, today announced new updates to its restaurant product offerings with the launch of Yelp Connect and new Waitlist features to help increase diner traffic and customer loyalty. Yelp Connect is a new way for restaurants to build their brands and share updates from their Yelp business pages and on users’ Yelp homescreens. New Yelp Waitlist features include Predictive Wait Time and Notify Me. These features help restaurants spread out customers to less popular dining times and enable people to better plan their dining experience, saving them from waiting outside restaurants.
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Yelp Connect is a new way for restaurants to share updates with consumers. (Graphic: Business Wire)
Yelp Connect and Waitlist demonstrate Yelp’s increased focus and continued investment in developing solutions that bring value to both diners and restaurants on the platform. These products are now available for purchase by logging into the Yelp for Business Owners site or the Yelp Waitlist site.
“Yelp Connect and Waitlist have helped us become an integral partner to restaurant owners as we evolve from a business discovery platform to a destination where consumers not only discover, but also interact and transact directly with businesses,” said Devon Wright, general manager of Restaurant Marketplaces at Yelp. “We’re focused on helping restaurants build stronger relationships with customers by extending our products across the diner journey — everything from finding a restaurant, getting seated, writing reviews and staying connected afterwards.”
Yelp Connect empowers restaurants to market themselves on their own terms and capture the right audience by sharing posts with new and existing diners, such as new menu items, happy hour specials and upcoming events. Restaurant owners will have full control of their updates, including setting end dates for posts about limited-time offerings. Anyone on a participating restaurants’ Yelp business page can now see updates from the business, and diners can stay in the know by following their favorite restaurants.
“Yelp Connect has given me a place to share information directly with existing and potential customers. It’s a great way to present your restaurant exactly how you want to be presented,” said Kathryn Gianaras, owner of NOVY Restaurant in San Francisco. “Being able to scroll down our page and see our own photos and updates that we posted makes us look a lot better on Yelp and is helpful for our guests to see. Plus, I like that I can set expiration dates for my posts, especially for holidays and events so I can set it and forget it.”
Unlike other social platforms, Yelp Connect restaurants typically start out with many followers. These followers consist of users who have previously shown high intent with their business — such as using Yelp Waitlist or Reservations, leaving a review and bookmarking a restaurant for later. Yelp Connect is a paid subscription that costs $199 a month, but will be available to early adopters for a special limited-time offer of $99 a month.
Yelp Waitlist now offers more convenience than ever with Predictive Wait Time and Notify Me — new features that improve efficiency for restaurants’ front-of-house operations, and help people plan their next meal out from the comfort of their home. Yelp Waitlist, which is available to clients starting at $249 a month, now features:
- Predictive Wait Time uses actual restaurant wait time data, not location data, to display the best times to dine at a restaurant, helping restaurants drive customers to less popular dining times. Diners will now find a simple bar chart to better anticipate or avoid longer wait times.
- Notify Me enables people to schedule a reminder on Yelp to join the Waitlist for their favorite restaurants, so they can enjoy their day rather than worrying about when a wait time may suddenly spike. After users indicate the size of their party and when they’d like to eat, the Yelp app will send a push notification when it’s time to join the Waitlist.
“Yelp Waitlist has been beyond wonderful for us at The Lighthouse Cafe, and our team is extremely pleased with the results that we have seen after adoption. The new Predictive Wait Time has brought in more business during traditionally slower hours, which our diners have even mentioned in Yelp reviews,” said Tad Belshe, operating director of The Lighthouse Cafe in Newport Beach, CA. “Waitlist has helped us reach more people and we’ve seen tremendous improvement with our guest drop off rate. Since implementing Waitlist we’ve received a significant increase in traffic to our website compared to previous reservation systems we were using.”
In 2018, Yelp introduced new Waitlist products and features such as Yelp Kiosks and On My Way, to streamline both digital and physical restaurant management processes. According to Yelp data, diners seated through the Yelp app return to the same restaurant twice as often as other diners, Yelp’s wait time algorithm is approximately twice as accurate as host estimates, and 81% of diners say they’re more likely to come back to a restaurant with Yelp Waitlist. Eats in San Francisco, for example, saw a 17% increase in business with the help of Yelp’s more accurate wait time estimates and front-of-house management, according to General Manager Ixchel Acosta.
With Yelp Connect and Waitlist, Yelp is continuing to help restaurants foster meaningful connections and maintain loyal customers, while seamlessly connecting people with great local businesses.
Yelp Inc. (www.yelp.com) connects people with great local businesses. With unmatched local business information, photos and review content, Yelp provides a one-stop local platform for consumers to discover, connect and transact with local businesses of all sizes by making it easy to request a quote, join a waitlist, and make a reservation, appointment or purchase. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004.