November 26, 2014

Yelp Hackathon 15: Sharks, Sock Puppets and Spectacular Projects

We recently held the 15th edition of Yelp Hackathon, a two-day event comprised of pure, unadulterated hacking, innovation, creativity, fun, and lots and lots of snacks. Close to 60 inventive projects came out of the event from engineers working in our offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Hamburg, and London. They ranged from cool data mining and visualizations, to useful product features, funny utilities, and some serious hardcore hacking. Yelp engineers worked through the night finding ways to speed up Yelp’s mobile app, creating a tool to explore cities by neighborhoods and keywords, crafting sock puppets for a Yelp commercial (not every project has to involve code!), and lots more. For all the technical details, click over to the Yelp Engineering blog.

Check out some pics from Hackathon below, and if this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, head over to yelp.com/careers to see all of our current product and engineering job openings. Hackathon 16 isn’t too far off!

Yelp Hackathon 15 shirt

Limited edition Yelp Hackathon 15.0 shirts

Sharks (1)

Yelp engineers hacking away, seemingly undeterred by the flock of floating RC sharks swarming their conference room.

 

Quadcopter

Are they building a quadcopter to fight those sharks?

 

Jeremy hackathon 15 selfie

The Creative team at Yelp came up with a fun Yelp branding campaign complete with sock puppets and a “selfie station” for Hackathon 15. Yelp CEO Jeremy stopped by for a photo op.

 

Neighborhood map sf hackathon

A data visualization project for exploring neighborhoods shows “touristy” neighborhoods in San Francisco that also have fancy restaurants.

 

Science_fair hackathon

Our hackers showing off their projects in a science-fair style exhibition.

November 20, 2014

Yelp’s Top 20 Cities to Shop Local for the Holidays

With Small Business Saturday just around the corner, holiday shoppers are making their lists, checking them twice, and preparing to spend money at local businesses across the country.

 

Yelp recently conducted a survey with Nielsen which found that 8 in 10 Americans are likely to shop at local businesses this holiday season. But which cities in America are the best for finding great local gifts? We analyzed Yelp’s millions of reviews and business listings to determine the U.S. cities with the largest concentration of highly-rated, local businesses where holiday shoppers can find great gifts. Without further ado, here are the top 20 cities for local shopping lovers:

 

Yelp’s Top 20 Cities to Shop Local for the Holidays

 

1. Portland, ME

2. Lawrence, KS

3. St. Petersburg, FL

4. Asheville, NC

5. Santa Cruz, CA

6. Detroit, MI

7. Bend, OR

8. Chapel Hill, NC

9. Wilmington, NC

10. Hoboken, NJ

11. Minneapolis, MN

12. Portland, OR

13. Frederick, MD

14. Flagstaff, AZ

15. New Orleans, LA

16. Worcester, MA

17. Savannah, GA

18. Providence, RI

19. Seattle, WA

20. Baltimore, MD

 

Now that you know the best cities for local shopping, keep these tips in mind to find amazing local gifts that’ll make you the toast of the Secret Santa holiday swap.

 

1. Think outside the box.

In fact, think of something you can’t even put into a box! Yelp and Nielsen’s recent survey found that local shoppers are looking for experience-based gifts this year. Consider a gift certificate to a delicious local restaurant, a manicure or massage at a local spa, or even a free pass to attend a pottery or cooking class. A small gift, like a lotion from the spa, paired with a gift certificate makes a perfect set.

2. Rep your city.

What makes your city unique? Find a local brewery that bottles craft beer that’s super hot with locals in the know, or a dairy that produces to-die-for cheeses you can only find locally. Whether your recipient lives around the corner or is from out-of-town, they’ll appreciate a carefully selected, locally-made gift that gets them a ticket straight to the cool kids club!

3. Do your research.

Take a peek at what your friend or family member Tweets about, Yelps about, etc. Did they “like” the page of a local boutique? Have they written a review of a new coffee shop? This will give you an idea of their tastes for local businesses and will win you points for being the most observant gift giver around.

4. Find the best-of-the-best.

You only want the best for your loved ones, right? If you’re not sure what they may like, a safe bet is to look at the Best of Yelp list and choose a business that locals agree is tops, whether a restaurant you can buy a gift certificate for (something you can do right through the Yelp site and app!) or a boutique to bookmark for a shopping trip. Chances are your gift recipient has heard of this spot and will be impressed with your local knowledge.

5. Speak up.

Whether or not you have a gift in mind, when you’re in a store, ask the staff for guidance. They’ll be able to give you a rundown of their inventory, can point out all their locally made products, and might show you something you weren’t expecting that could turn into the perfect gift.

Happy holiday hunting and See You on Yelp!



November 18, 2014

Pipe Dreams: Frank’s Story

For today’s small businesses, online reviews can have a big impact on success. We recently heard about Frank (affectionately known by his customers and friends as “the Fizman”), a plumber in Downey, California who started off homeless and built a thriving business, thanks in part to online word of mouth. After years of struggling with poverty, he decided to pursue a future in the plumbing industry. Upon receiving his contractor’s license, he posted his business, Fiz Plumbing, to Yelp, and the rest is history.

Frank’s focus on honesty, authenticity, and great customer service resonated with our community of Yelpers, and the positive reviews came rolling in. His story goes to show how great small businesses can reap the benefits of online word of mouth and find success based on the value of their reputation, not just the size of their advertising budget. In fact, a Boston Consulting Group study found that small businesses saw an average of $8,000 in annual revenue from Yelp just by claiming their free Yelp business page.

Watch the video below to see Frank’s story. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and, if you live in the Los Angeles area, you’ll want to bookmark Fiz Plumbing for your next water pipe emergency.

 

November 17, 2014

Yelp Hosts 5th Annual Summit for Small Business Owners

We created the Yelp Small Business Advisory Council four years ago to get insight and guidance from our core community of local business owners. Beginning with only a handful of North American businesses, today the council represents a wide cross section of industries and geographies. This year, the group includes an ice cream maker from Munich, a salon owner from Melbourne, a food truck owner from LA and more. Last month, the council gathered at Yelp HQ for an action-packed, two-day summit and it was exciting to witness their enthusiasm.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 10.25.57 PM.png

 

During the summit, the council met with Yelp executives and engineers to discuss a wide range of topics from Yelp business owners. The main goal of the event was to kickstart new ideas for Yelp’s management team to consider and build on action items from years past. Check out the video recap below from our CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:

 

In case you’re wondering what sort of influence the council has, here are some examples of improvements we’ve made over the years with their help:

 

 

At the end of this year’s summit, the group put their heads together to generate a healthy list of new ideas and action items. Be sure to check out our Blog for Business Owners to stay updated on the new products and features we launch with the help of their feedback.

November 06, 2014

A Day in the Life of Monica S., Regional Lead (Latin America)

As a regional lead, Monica hires, trains, coaches, motivates, and manages a team of Yelp Community Managers in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil. She first found her aptitude for leadership on the soccer field. A member of the U.S. women's national soccer team in high school, Monica was recruited to the University of Pennsylvania to play goalkeeper. From this position on the field she learned early how to stay calm under pressure, communicate clearly, see the bigger picture (as well as all the angles), and help instruct her team to be in the right place to make the play. We're lucky to have her skills on our side at Yelp!

If Monica’s role sounds like your dream job, check out yelp.com/careers to see our open positions and get your career started with Yelp.

Monica headshotMonica showing off her ping pong skills

Why do you love being a part of the Yelp team?

Had someone asked me then whether I saw my future self living in Brazil and growing Yelp throughout Latin America, I would have laughed at the outrageousness of it. I joined Yelp as the Philadelphia Community Manager in May 2009 and at the time, I had the coolest job of all of my friends. I threw parties at some of the city’s best businesses and I got to support locals who were making a remarkable difference in the city. From Philly, I got to take on a market triple the size and became the East Bay Community Manager. It was there that I brought 4,000 Yelpers together at Yelp’s Sunset Showdown. In 2011, I got the opportunity move back to my hometown of Miami, FL to be the Community Manager and later Regional Lead for the Southeast US.

I love working at Yelp because 5 years later, I still feel like I have the coolest job ever. It’s given me the chance to reinvent myself while growing personally and professionally. Yelp does a great job at promoting from within and many of my fellow manager colleagues were once CMs like me. We share a bond that’s become really special over time. Today, as I manage a team, having the background of being a Community Manager is priceless. Yelp has changed my life and my goal is to help it change the lives of others.

Collageteam

What is a typical day in the office like for you?

My home office is in São Paulo, but my time is also spent between Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, and some other cities in Mexico and Brazil. When I travel for work, I’m meeting with potential marketing partners, co-hosting a Yelp Happy Hour, or plugged in at a coffee shop collaborating with a trusty Community Manager or Yelp Ambassador. My job is to recruit, hire and coach CMs while figuring out the best way to grow our communities in Latin America. I like to think that I’m any given city’s second-best Yelper – after the CM, of course – and I also never shy away from lending a hand. Just last week, I bartended a Yelp event in Rio, and the week before, I was presenting at a conference in São Paulo.

Collage1

What’s your advice for someone who might be interested in working at Yelp?

Write a great cover letter and be your best self. When I’m hiring for my own team, I’m looking for someone who has a voracious appetite for creativity, along with an unmatched work ethic. Someone who’s adaptive, who can think on their feet, who carries a good attitude, and has a hunger for more can go pretty far here.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Latin America? What are you up to when you’re not at work?

Latin America has been an unforgettable experience so far. When I’m not Yelping, I’m trying to discover as much of the region as I can. Since I live in Brazil, I’ve been checking out some breath-taking beaches – the types of places that make you reconsider giving up everything and selling coconut water from a cart. Trancoso is one of those spots. Needless to say, living here is “muito legal” (pronounced le-gau), which is the best way to say, “very nice.” I also made it to the top of the Andes and felt very proud of myself... until altitude sickness kicked in on the 5-mph bus ride down a jagged mountainside! Surfing is my newest endeavor - I just need to conquer my fear of sharks.

Collage2

What are a few of your current favorite local businesses?

For the best pisco sour and ceviche outside of Peru, I make it a weekly meal at São Paulo’s Suri. The freshness there is unparalleled and the Argentine bartender, Fabio, always starts my pisco sour when he sees me come through the door. Now that’s service!

I’m also particularly obsessed with the freshly made waffle cones at my neighborhood ice creamery, Frida & Mina. I swear the scent that emits from their petite corner store puts the whole neighborhood in a good mood.

For gifts that keep my stateside friends and family feeling loved, I head to Sou Sou. This jewelry shop is in one of São Paulo’s hippest neighborhoods, Vila Madalena, and all the jewelery is made there. The store specializes in crystals and gems from Brazil and every time I go, I walk out with more than one thing. I love the rough cut minerals that hang from necklaces; it’s very dramatic and chic. Even better, their goods won’t break the bank.

November 04, 2014

8 in 10 Americans Are Likely to Shop Local This Holiday Season: How Business Owners Can Prepare

Ahh, the holidays. The season of indulgent meals, pumpkin spice everything, and gift giving has begun! Signs are pointing to shoppers already preparing to bust out those wallets and blow some dough on this year’s holiday haul.

Yelp commissioned Nielsen to field a consumer survey to find out where and when Americans are planning to spend money this holiday season, and what draws them to shop at local businesses. Good news for small business owners - a whopping eight in ten Americans are likely to shop at local businesses this holiday season. But wait, there’s more! Our data tells us that nearly half of these local shoppers plan to spend more than $100 at small businesses and 44% say they will start shopping before Thanksgiving. And it’s not just retail businesses getting in on the action: six in ten local shoppers are looking to buy experience-based gifts such as a restaurant gift certificate, massage, or theater tickets. Check out the infographic below for even more insights.

Now, with that insider info in mind, here are Yelp’s top five tips for business owners to maximize your exposure on Yelp and increase the chances a holiday shopper will choose to spend money at your business.

1. Claim your free Yelp Business Page. Start by going to Yelp for Business Owners at biz.yelp.com, if you haven’t already.

2. Update your business information. Confirm that your address and phone number are correct, add your business website, and don’t forget to update your hours for the holidays!

3. Add photos. Business owners can upload unlimited photos on Yelp and we know that consumers spend 2.5 times longer on Yelp Business Pages with photos.

4. Tell people about your business. Make your business relevant in more search results by adding content in the “From The Business” section to let customers know your specialties.

5. Create exciting promotions. Consider creating a Check-in Offer for your mobile audience, like one free hot chocolate, or a Yelp Deal to entice new customers to try your business for the first time, like a $25 for $50 voucher for any goods or services at your place of business. Finally, you can set up a Gift Certificate to be sold through your Yelp Business Page, which is perfect for your existing customers who want to share your goods or services with friends, family, and loved ones.

  LocalShoppingInfographicv5

October 28, 2014

Cityvox, Welcome to Yelp

It is with great pleasure that I announce Yelp’s acquisition of Cityvox, a French online review site specialised in the restaurant and nightlife categories.

Hot on the heels of our acquisition of Restaurant-Kritik in Germany last week, the acquisition of Cityvox further illustrates Yelp’s commitment to the development of the European market and clearly underlines our goal of becoming the go-to local business review site internationally.

Cityvox has a local reputation for providing great consumer insights for businesses ranging from restaurants and brasseries to cinemas and clubs, basically any business falling into the restaurant and nightlife categories. We are looking forward to integrating this review and photo content into Yelp and putting it at the service of consumers throughout France, whether they be locals or one of the millions of annual visitors to the culture-rich country.

Depth and breadth of content, as well as a dedicated community of Yelpers, is what sets Yelp apart and is the reason why over 130 million unique visitors come to Yelp each month. The addition of Cityvox’s review and photo content will enrich the Yelp content in France, and hopefully attract yet more dedicated and committed Yelpers to the Yelp France community.

Welcome to Yelp, Cityvox. May your days be Yelpy and bright. 

 

Cityvox, bienvenue chez Yelp

C’est avec un grand plaisir que Yelp annonce l’acquisition de Cityvox, le site français spécialisé dans les bonnes adresses de restaurants et de sorties dans les grandes villes françaises.

Quelques jours seulement après l'acquisition du site Restaurant-Kritik en Allemagne la semaine dernière, l'acquisition de Cityvox illustre une nouvelle fois l'engagement fort de Yelp dans son développement sur le marché européen. L’intégration de Cityvox reflète également notre objectif de devenir le spécialiste des avis sur les commerces de proximité au niveau international.

Cityvox a acquis une bonne réputation sur le plan local en fournissant aux consommateurs des avis de qualité sur les restaurants, bars, cinémas, clubs,… En bref, l’ensemble des spécialistes du monde de la restauration et des sorties. Nous sommes impatients d'intégrer l’ensemble des avis et photos de Cityvox au sein de la plateforme Yelp et de les mettre ainsi au service des utilisateurs à travers toute la France, qu’ils y habitent ou qu’ils fassent partie des millions de visiteurs qui s’y rendent chaque année !

La richesse et la qualité du contenu, associé à une communauté active de Yelpeurs, voilà ce qui distingue Yelp sur son marché et c'est la raison pour laquelle le site accueille plus de 130 millions de visiteurs uniques chaque mois. L’arrivée de Cityvox et de ses contenus va venir enrichir la plateforme Yelp et nous espérons ainsi accroitre notre communauté à travers la France. 

Bienvenue chez Yelp, Cityvox !

October 24, 2014

Restaurant-Kritik Joins the Yelp Team

I am happy to announce that Yelp has agreed to acquire Restaurant-Kritik, a restaurant review company based in Hamburg, with a presence throughout Germany.

Restaurant-Kritik has built a local reputation for high quality restaurant reviews across Germany and we are excited about the prospect of integrating this great content into the Yelp Germany experience.

Restaurant-Kritik joining Yelp helps make the largest global community of reviewers and great local information even stronger. Now available in major metros in 29 countries across the world, the addition of Restaurant-Kritik content to the Yelp family will see us further expand our depth of content in one of our core European markets.

Kritikers themselves (as Restaurant-Kritik users are known) have long been asking about the possibility of joining a global community of reviewers, and we’re thrilled to be able to connect them to Yelpers across the globe with the same passion for discovering local businesses and commitment to sharing their experiences to help other consumers find the best businesses around them, wherever they are.

Welcome to the Yelp party, Kritikers!

Lest zu diesem Thema auch auf dem deutschen Blog 

October 21, 2014

Treat Yo Self! Yelp Platform Adds Hotel and Winery Bookings

Want to book a hotel room for a quick Napa getaway with your ball-and-chain significant other? Maybe book a wine tasting or massage while you’re there? Dinner reservations at a great restaurant? Or throw on some sweatpants and order food delivery? Of course you’d check Yelp before doing any of the above, but now you can actually book all of these services right from your Yelp app (and site), too!

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.29.12 PM

We introduced Yelp Platform last year to quell hunger pangs through food delivery partners delivery.com and Eat24, and launched Booker earlier this year to make a spa pampering session just a few clicks away.

Today, we’re excited to connect consumers to even more great local businesses with the addition of several new partners to Yelp Platform. Consumers can now get food delivered from a ton of new locations thanks to the integration of EatStreet, ChowNow and Ordr.in, as well as hotel bookings through Hipmunk and winery reservations through CellarPass.

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Approximately 28,000 businesses in all major US 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. The best part is that by making it easier for consumers to spend money at local businesses, those businesses are reaping the benefits, too.

We’re continuing to add new partners and categories of business in order to bring consumers more ways to transact directly on Yelp and drive more leads to local businesses. For more information on partnering with Yelp, please check out yelp.com/developers or contact bizdev@yelp.com.

October 15, 2014

Yelp Foundation Plans to Give $1 Million to Nonprofits

Yelp Foundation Logo White

There are many milestones worth celebrating in Yelp’s 10-year history, but one that’s close to my heart is the creation of the Yelp Foundation. In 2011 Yelp’s board established the Yelp Foundation with one percent of company equity to support community literacy and small business growth, initiatives that are imperative for local economies to thrive.

I’m pleased to announce that this year, the Foundation plans to give $1 million to charity, including grants of up to $100,000 to nonprofits in addition to the Foundation’s Yelp employee donation matching program. This year’s grant recipients include:

La Cocina (San Francisco, CA)

Oakland Leaf Foundation (Oakland, CA)

Electronic Privacy Information Center (Washington, D.C.)

Defy Ventures (New York, NY)

Literacy Partners (New York, NY)

Local First Arizona (Phoenix, AZ)

Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ)

Accion (Phoenix, AZ)

Make Way for Books (Tucson, AZ)

Urban Think Foundation (Orlando, FL)

The Yelp Foundation accomplishes its charitable goals by making grants to very deserving nonprofits throughout the US, as well as encouraging charitable giving by matching donations made to charities by Yelp employees, up to $1,000 per person, per year (a tradition it will continue for 2014).

In its first two years, the Foundation matched Yelp employee donations to give a combined total of more than $100,000 to nonprofits each year. The Foundation also created an annual grant program that awarded $400,000 to several charities in 2013.

Determining which organizations will receive a grant is no small task. To find the right mix of nonprofits that actively embody the Foundation's mission, we called upon Yelp employees to lend a hand.

Internal "champions" who felt strongly about the work of a particular nonprofit presented a case to fellow employees at their offices about why that nonprofit should receive a grant from the Yelp Foundation. Based on those presentations, Yelp employees voted on which groups seemed most deserving of a grant, and the Board of Directors at the Yelp Foundation considered those votes before making their decision.

Fortunately, the impact of this trust fund continues to multiply, thanks to Yelp’s decision to make philanthropy a priority early on by funding the Foundation through a gift of Yelp stock. As the value of Yelp stock increases, the resources available to the Yelp Foundation also increase. So while it started small, the Foundation currently has more than $30 million in assets, which allows it to make substantial grants each year.

We know the Yelp community is passionate about these causes as well, so the Foundation is planning volunteer events that will give community members and Yelp employees the opportunity to get involved with these organizations and donate their time (while having a blast, of course!). Stay tuned for more details on the Yelp Blog, or check each organization’s website for individual volunteering opportunities.