I have a love/hate relationship with Yelp.
As a consumer, I love Yelp.
As someone working in the restaurant marketing industry, it can sometimes be annoying.
As someone working closely with business owners, it’s seriously like the devil.
Yelp is all about connecting consumers to awesome local businesses and restaurants. You pretty much get word-of-mouth recommendations through one medium from real people, with real experiences. It’s even more perfect for travelers who need a recommendation on where to go, where to stay, and where to eat.
I literally use it ALL the time…and that’s also why I HATE it. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Working for Taste Marketing Strategies (a marketing and PR agency in the restaurant, bar & nightclub industry), I have to deal with Yelp on a daily basis (mostly good).
We manage our client’s online reputation, which are often tainted by reviews on Yelp. While I agree that Yelp is helpful to improving businesses, there’s also the reviews where people b*tch about their water not getting filled in time or knocking off a star because the waitresses hair wasn’t tied up.
Not only do those negative reviews hurt a business’s overall rating, but they’re seriously super annoying to read. No joke, I’ve had one that went something like this:
“It’s been 5 minutes and our waitress hasn’t taken our order. I’m even sitting here writing this review. It’s now 6 minutes and she still isn’t here. If they had 0 star option, I’d give it to them.”
Lol. I just can’t deal.
Sometimes reviews like those “stick” and sometimes they don’t. Yelp filters out reviews through a top-secret algorithm (they won’t tell anybody), so there’s really no way of knowing which reviews will stay, and which reviews will be taken down. Unfortunately, even the 5 star ratings also get filtered out. Even my personal reviews I’ve done for places I’m in love with have been filtered out because I wasn’t a “frequent enough Yelper.” (<– that really sucks for businesses and my heart goes out to them)
The idea behind Yelp’s review filter is to protect businesses from fraudulent reviews, perhaps maybe ones coming from competitors <- – well that’s the idea anyway. It’s also to help keep Yelp reviews as “real” as possible, preventing business owners from soliciting reviews or paying for them.
Now here’s the real ugly…
Since “hate” is a strong word, I’ll use “strongly dislike” instead. I haven’t met one business owner who doesn’t “strong dislike” Yelp. I’ve talked to numerous business owners who have been contacted by Yelp to spend monthly advertising dollars. BUT… what happens when they DECLINE to spend money remains to be a much- heated debate.
It’s been “claimed” that Yelp filters out good reviews, leaving more of the negative ones up after a business refuses to advertise with them. Yelp has even fought extortion claims and you can read more about that on Forbes, Eater and New York Times. The facts and arguments in those articles are hard to ignore.
To sum it all up…
As a consumer, I take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt. I don’t believe in the star rating system as much as I did before and I tend to not read all their reviews…especially the ones where people go on just to complain about minor things.
People have different tastes, likes, and dislikes when it comes to food. Take an authentic sushi restaurant for example- some prefer sushi rolls & others prefer fresh sashimi. However, if the restaurant is truly “authentic” then they won’t be big on rolls…& they’re also pretty much non-existent in Japan.
Anyways, Yelp is a great starting point if you need a quick recommendation, but I wouldn’t believe ALL the horror stories you read online.
Have you been to a restaurant that was much more deserving than their mediocre 3-star rating or vice-versa?
What are your experiences with Yelp? Do tell below…!