Yelp Adds Hotel Bookings, Wineries

Yelp on Tuesday announced that users can now use the ratings and reviews service to book hotel rooms, in addition to things like ordering in food and making spa or dinner reservations.

The new capability, powered by travel-booking service Hipmunk, launches with a limited number of hotels to ensure a smooth customer experience, before eventually being rolled out to tens of thousands of others on the site. Among the initial partners handling books through Yelp is The Hilton Garden Inn in Napa, California.

Yelp has also added bookings for wineries through CellarPass and added new locations for ordering food delivery through its partnerships with third-party services, including EatStreet, ChowNow and Ordr.in.

A new analysis by Macquarie Securities looking at 165 leading hotels on Yelp across 11 large U.S. cities, found that about 20% are currently offering online booking. And in only three of the 11 cities—San Jose, CA, San Francisco and Phoeniz, AZ—was online booking enabled for a majority of the leading hotels on Yelp.

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“Approximately 28,000 businesses in all major U.S. markets are available for booking on Yelp Platform today, and we’ll continue to roll out more in the coming months. With approximately 250,000 transactions happening through Yelp Platform in Q3 2014 (and more than 50% of those on mobile), it’s clear Yelpers love the convenience of booking and purchase options within Yelp,” stated the company in a blog post, a day ahead of its third-quarter earnings report.

The moves reflect Yelp’s efforts over the last year or so to expand from being only a user review site to an e-commerce hub through Yelp Platform, which allows outside developers to plug their transactional services for local businesses directly into the Yelp Web site and mobile apps.

In a research note last month, Macquarie analyst Tom White suggested the company’s e-commerce push could also boost Yelp’s core ad business.

Analysts expect Yelp to report earnings per share of three cents on revenue of $99 million, up from $61.8 million a year ago, when it releases third-quarter results on Wednesday.

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