- Yelp on Wednesday announced a new tool, called Yelp Guest Manager, that streamlines its front-of-house products, including Waitlist, Reservations, Kiosk, Takeout and Table Management into one suite. According to an email sent to Restaurant Dive, Guest Manager will help restaurants manage operations as off-premise dining grows in importance.
- Yelp Guest Manager integrates with restaurant tech companies Olo, which provides digital ordering, and Punchh, which specializes in guest loyalty. The tool also features new languages in Yelp Kiosk, reservation seating conversion analysis, self-serve settings for reservations and curbside pickup text messaging.
- Yelp also launched a new feature identifying virtual or delivery-only restaurants. The feature allows these businesses to identify their service model as well as their service areas to customers.
Yelp's diversification helped the company grow in the years before the pandemic. The company's introduction of Kiosks and integration with Grubhub, for example, tripled its growth in Q4 2019. As more consumers shifted online in response to the pandemic, Yelp rolled out more products. In February, Yelp expanded its Waitlist to manage curbside and takeout, in addition to dine-in, and added new features like point-of-sale integration and enhanced analytics.
Yelp's searches for takeout increased 3,200% since March 1, 2020. The increase in off-premise dining put operational pressure on restaurants that Yelp, and other technology companies, are trying to alleviate.
"This past year, we saw a particular need to innovate quickly to better support the needs of restaurants during the pandemic. Whether it was evolving Guest Manager to focus on takeout operations or providing a printable QR code for walk-in guests to help enforce social distancing, we are always looking for ways to update our offerings," Anthony Cross, Yelp's VP of product, said in an email.
Guest Manager integrates the new features, offering simplicity for operators facing a wide array of challenges across channels. Presto, Olo and Toast have all announced more streamlined front-of-house tech as well.
Such all-in-one solutions could help operators as they manage the current labor shortage.
"Restaurateurs told us they needed a comprehensive front-of-house solution, now more than ever, as they combat a labor shortage and adjust to new operations models," Cross said. "Restaurants want simplicity — a single solution, from a single vendor, that meets all their front-of-house needs."
Yelp's integration with Olo and Punchh should yield efficiencies, as the two companies have experienced tremendous growth throughout the past eighteen months. Olo currently serves more than 400 restaurant brands and about 69,000 individual locations, while Punchh works with more than 200 global enterprise brands, including Yum Brands and Denny's.
"We've seen a steady growth in demand for takeout and curbside delivery — even as restaurants return to in-person dining, demand for these services is outpacing pre-pandemic levels," Cross said. "The Olo Online integration we are announcing today is one way that Yelp is easing the challenges around managing takeout operations for national restaurants as demand remains high."
The new Yelp feature that enables virtual and delivery-only brands to identify their service areas could benefit those businesses, as many consumers remain confused about delivery-only concepts despite the category's growth. According to Datassential, more than two-thirds of consumers said they are unaware of ghost restaurants or virtual brands. Yelp's massive platform of 31 million unique devices could help with that process.
"Virtual kitchens can share kitchen space with other businesses or operate out of a restaurant's existing brick and mortar location, which can be confusing for consumers looking to order from a local business," Cross said. "Our new Virtual Restaurants attribute allows restaurants to easily identify themselves and their service areas to customers and eliminate customer confusion around their delivery experience."