- Yelp has expanded Yelp Waitlist, which was originally focused on managing dine-in service, to manage takeout and curbside pickup orders, according to a press release shared with Restaurant Dive.
- Additional features include guest profiles, allowing hosts to store diners' seating preferences and dietary restrictions, and point-of-sales integration that updates hosts when a check is paid. The company upgraded its Yelp for Business offering to include enhanced analytics to let restaurants view performance, such as number of diners seated, diners seated via Yelp, seating conversion rates and wait time accuracy.
- These features build on previous upgrades Yelp made to its Waitlist platform so restaurants can better address how the pandemic has changed interactions between operators and guests, and could be attractive to existing restaurant customers struggling to offer a robust takeout service alongside reopening dine-in operations.
Yelp's takeout technology allows hosts to manage pickup orders in the app, whether they were received via phone or online, and input information such as the type of car to look for. Hosts can also text customers when their orders are ready.
"Through the past 11 months, takeout has been the solace for restaurant owners — and has been quickly adapted by customers," Rahul Hampole, Yelp's VP of product, said. "Though we expect consumer interest in dining to reach normal levels when regulations allow for it, we also anticipate consumers to continue to use takeout."
These features build on assets Yelp rolled out to its platform in June, including QR codes to make it easier for consumers to join restaurant waitlists and manual wait controls to adjust wait times to provide more accurate expectations. The company also created capacity monitors for hosts to set maximum seating capacity that alerts them when they are approaching 90% or exceeding their limit, and added "curbside pickup" to its search filter.
Waitlist will also store repeat diner information, such as phone number and dietary preferences, and is searchable through an autofill feature. The takeout features are available at no additional cost for restaurants with nine or fewer locations. Prices vary for restaurants with 10 or more locations.
Yelp's enhanced analytics aim to help business owners gain more control and information to operate more efficiently and market more effectively, Hampole said.
"With enhanced analytics, we're giving restaurant owners more information around the performance of their business — allowing them to look at a high level at what’s working and what might need to be adjusted," Hampole said.
Restaurants can also look at the performance of all of their units at the same time, Hampole said.
In recent years, the company has been providing additional tools to help restaurant customers improve marketing efforts. It introduced Yelp Connect in 2019, which allows restaurants to communicate directly with customers that have interest in the business by sharing new menu items, specials and events. The newest features adds POS integration and the creation of guest profiles.
"When it comes to marketing effectively, it’s all about the message and the timing," Hampole said. "The more personalized you can be with your message, the more it will resonate with the customer."
For example, if a guest has ordered chicken the last four times they visited a restaurant, restaurants could reach those consumers with a personalized push for that dish, or if a guest notes that he or she has a shellfish intolerance, marketers would know not to send that guest a promotion for a new lobster dish, Hampole said.
"We have heard from restaurant owners that this is a priority for them and so we'll continue to innovate and create products that address these needs," Hampole said.
Yelp also updated customer features, including creating an "On the Menu" section to better show a restaurants' popular dishes, link directly to their menus and include time-stamped menu photos. The company added upgrades to dish and photo searches and users can now search for photos on Yelp business pages through Android and iOS devices. Users can also install a Yelp widget on iOS 14 devices that shows highly rated restaurants that provide delivery and takeout.
Yelp isn't the only company expanding features to provide restaurants with more diner data. SevenRooms expanded its waitlist product in September with online booking channels including Google Search, Maps and Assistant. The tool allows guests to add themselves to a waitlist online from home via a restaurant's chosen channels and provides restaurants with greater access to guest data. Wisely, a guest engagement platform that offers a wide range of tools including waitlist and reservations, also added Call In Management this week that allows restaurants to input phone orders in the POS and create text updates to the customer about the order status, according to an email sent to Restaurant Dive.