Yelp on Thursday announced new publishing features for restaurant owners and new booking features for customers, as it faces increasing pressure from Google to drive innovation for a variety of businesses.
Yelp Connect for restaurant owners acts as a publishing tool. Customers can access Yelp Connect from their Yelp business pages to push out content to anyone who visits the restaurant’s Yelp page or has shown interest, such as booking a table via Yelp Reservations or bookmarking a restaurant to visit later.
Restaurant-goers who use the Yelp app will find updated information about the specific restaurants on their home screen, as well as in a personalized weekly email, which Yelp will likely curate from the data collected within the platform -- data that is available within the app when someone books a reservation, joins a Waitlist, or bookmarks a restaurant for later.
Predictive Wait Time, and Notify Me are two new Yelp Waitlist upgrades. Yelp Waitlist shows live wait times based on actual data from the restaurants, not location data. Machine learning has improved the accuracy of estimates, according to Yelp.
Notify Me is a reminder that enables customers to pick a time to visit a restaurant and then receive a notification prior to that time to join the Yelp Waitlist.
Yelp also says Waitlist is a way to help restaurants manage customers. Predictive Wait Time specifically aims to assist to bring in customers during slower times. A visual graph will serve up to show app users other available times. It should help spread out the influx of people who would usually arrive at peak and popular dining times.
The Waitlist features should help customers better anticipate -- or avoid -- longer wait times.
Customers who use Yelp’s app apparently return to the same restaurant twice as often as other diners, according to the company’s data. Its 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.