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!

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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.

October 10, 2014

Yelp and Michelin: Not So Different After All, Nate Silver Study Finds

When it comes to having a good meal, Yelpers trust that they can find the best local restaurants through Yelp’s website and mobile app. For those who prefer the opinion of professional food critics, like in the Michelin Guide, they may be surprised to find that we’re pretty much on the same page when it comes to opinions on great local restaurants. After previously working with us to find the best place for a burrito in America, famed statistician Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight team decided to see how Yelp reviews stack up to those of the historic dining guide.  

To compare the two, Silver looked at the star rating of New York City restaurants published in Michelin’s 2015 ratings guide and compared them to those restaurants’ overall Yelp rating and average review count, using restaurants that had lost their Michelin stars since 2005 as a control group. His findings? The correlation between Yelp stars and Michelin stars is highly statistically significant, showing that the two share similar opinions and ratings of restaurants. What can we say? Yelpers know they’ve found a good dish when they taste one!

Head over to FiveThirtyEight to see how all the stats break down.

September 24, 2014

Yelp Rises To The Occasion in Hong Kong

Yelp 將於香港蓄勢崛起

香港擁有世界上最多的摩天大樓、世界上最長的戶外行人扶手電梯,以及世界上最大的快速渡輪船隊,在這繁華活躍的海港襯托下,不愧為一個充滿活力、變化多端的大都會。今天,Yelp 很榮幸地能把香港加入我們不斷擴展的國際級城市大家庭。

這個前英國殖民地是世界上人口最稠密的地方之一。要容納超過七百萬人口,香港人自然要奮勇向「上」——對,香港有一千二百六十八幢摩天大樓,不僅是全球最多,而且是紐約市的雙倍!

如果你是公共交通工具的發燒友,你很快便會愛上香港。超過九成的香港人每日上下班都會乘搭巴士、小巴、渡輪、電車或者地下鐵路。你也可以看到人們在全球最長的戶外行人扶手電梯上熙來攘往。但不要認定這裡是個石屎森林,因為香港有四成土地被規劃為郊野公園,所以敬請準備好地圖、指南針和手提電話以及一副探險精神!

說起探險,就一定要到旺角或者深水埗,感受一下蓬勃的本土街頭文化——不論是跳蚤市場歌舞表演、還是中式寺廟咖喱魚蛋。而無論是對於點心大排檔或者私房菜,每一位香港人都是食家。這裡擁有亞洲區內人均而言最多的餐廳,故此在Yelp上令人垂涏欲滴的評語必定能大派用場。

立即登入yelp.com.hk或者下載Yelp的手機應用程式,探索一下香港新的一面。商戶亦可把握機會,於biz.yelp.com.hk免費註冊商店,建立自己的商店簡介。

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Yelp Rises To The Occasion in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the city with the most skyscrapers in the world, the world’s largest escalator system, and the world’s biggest ferry fleet; this bustling harbor is a vibrant and versatile metropolis. Today, Yelp is proud to include Hong Kong in its growing family of world class cities.

This former British Colony is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Accommodating more than 7 million residents forced Hong Kong to grow up, literally. HK boasts 1,268 skyscrapers - the most in the world and over twice the amount in NYC!

For aficionados of public transit, it doesn't get any better than HK. Over 90% of Hongkongers’ daily commutes involve buses, mini-buses, ferries, trams, and/or trains. You’ll also see locals hopping on and off the world’s largest escalator system! But it’s not all concrete jungle as 40% of Hong Kong’s land is designated for country parks, so don’t forget to bring your hiking boots and your spirit of adventure.

Speaking of adventuring, hit up Mong Kok or Sham Shui Po and you’ll be rewarded with a thriving local street culture — from flea markets and live bands to local temples and fish balls. And whether it’s dim sum, dai pai dong, or private kitchens, Hongkongers are bona fide foodies. Boasting one of Asia’s highest concentrations of restaurants per capita, that surely means a lot of tasty Yelp reviews on the way.

Log on to Yelp.com.hk or download Yelp’s mobile app to explore Hong Kong in a new light. Businesses can get in on the action too at biz.yelp.com.hk by claiming their page for free and building their profile.

 

September 16, 2014

Yelp and FTC Agree to Settle Claim Concerning Mobile Registration Bug

Yelp recently reached a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding a bug in our mobile registration process that allowed certain users to register with any birth date when it was supposed to disallow registrations from individuals under 13 (birthdates on Yelp are optional in the first place, so users are always free to register without one).

The good news is that only about 0.02% of users who actually completed Yelp’s registration process during this time period provided an underage birth date, and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults. Regardless, we don’t want any ambiguity when it comes to our users.  When this problem was brought to our attention, we fixed it immediately and closed the affected users’ accounts.  

Yelp doesn’t promote itself as a place for children, and we certainly don’t expect or encourage them to write reviews about their plumbers, dentists, or latest gastronomic discoveries. We’re glad to have been able to cooperate with the FTC to get to a quick resolution and look forward to continuing our efforts to protect our users.

 

September 10, 2014

California Protects Free Speech Online with Passage of “Yelp Bill”

Since Yelp started in 2004, one of our top priorities has always been to protect the ability for consumers to share their real experiences with local businesses, and we actively advocate for laws and rules that protect people from the rare occasions where business owners may attempt to use litigation, intimidation or fines in response to a negative review.

Today we’re pleased to say that we’re making progress with the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 2365 into law by California Governor Jerry Brown, legislation some have affectionately come to call the “Yelp Bill.”

From time to time we hear about businesses that are so afraid of what their customers might say about them that they sneak clauses into consumer contracts designed to forbid their customers from saying anything bad about them on sites like Yelp. Some of these contracts even threaten fines or legal action. These types of non-disparagement contracts not only seek to intimidate potential reviewers away from sharing their honest experiences online, but also threaten to deprive the public of useful consumer information.

A five-star rating for a business who had used one of these clauses to simply scare all negative reviewers into removing their comments wouldn’t really represent the experience a consumer could expect to have at that business in our opinion.  

AB 2365 makes it explicitly clear that non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts for goods or services in the state of California are void and unenforceable. What this means is that individuals writing online reviews in California are now further protected from those bad actors who hide jargon in consumer contracts in attempts to prohibit you from posting reviews -- positive or negative -- online.

While Yelp believes these types of contracts are generally unenforceable to begin with, it was important to us to work with CA state Assemblyman and former Speaker John Perez’s office as he crafted this legislation to ensure that it gave the broadest degree of protections to Yelpers in the state.

We urge other states around the country to follow the example that California has set and adopt similar laws to clarify that non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts are void and unenforceable. These types of laws are good public policy and will help to protect Yelp users and consumers worldwide.

September 09, 2014

Women’s Health and Yelp Reveal the Top 20 Social Cities of 2014

Yelp’s got a whole lot of data, and we’re not afraid to use it. Our data, packed into more than 61 million reviews, tells us so much - from Yelpy Insights, like great spots for 20-somethings or vegetarians, to identifying consumer trends over time.

Recently, Yelp partnered with Women’s Health magazine to analyze our data and uncover the top 20 “social cities” in America, to be revealed in their October issue. Everyone knows New York and Los Angeles are hotbeds of cultural action, but what about the up-and-coming cities who are deserving of some attention? This list gives kudos to the top five cities in four distinct categories: active lifestyle, food, culture, and nightlife.

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To narrow down the field of contenders, we first determined the types of businesses that would signal a “social city” for each category, like gyms, parks, and hiking trails for the active lifestyle category, and museums, music venues, and theaters for the culture category. Next, we sifted through Yelp’s reviews and business data to surface the cities with a large proportion of highly rated new businesses in each category to reveal the spots that are on the rise right now. We then weeded out the major metros we’re all familiar with to let the smaller cities shine. Based on that list, Women’s Health led extensive editorial research including interviews with Yelp Community Managers, local business owners, city experts and candid citizens to finalize the top 20.

Whew! A few months of research flew by fast. Check out the 2014 top 20 Social Cities below. Read more about each city, along with local business recommendations, at www.womenshealthmag.com/life/social-cities and in the October issue of Women’s Health magazine, on stands now. Make sure to take the accompanying online quizzes based on data from our partnership to pinpoint the ideal city to live in, your ideal foodie vacation, and more.

 

2014 Women’s Health and Yelp Social Cities

FITNESS

1. Scottsdale, AZ

2. Jersey City, NJ

3. Ann Arbor, MI

4. Portland, OR 

5. Charlotte, NC

 

NIGHTLIFE

1. Memphis, TN

2. Cleveland, OH

3. Pittsburgh, PA

4. Providence, RI

5. Seattle, WA

 

FOOD

1. Des Moines, IA

2. Rochester, NY

3. Oklahoma City, OK 

4. Albuquerque, NM

5. Birmingham, AL 

 

CULTURE

1. Austin, TX

2. Denver, CO

3. Raleigh, NC

4. Orlando, FL

5. San Diego, CA

September 02, 2014

Ninth Circuit Confirms That Yelp Does Not Extort

For years, fringe commentators have accused Yelp of altering business ratings for money.  Yelp has never done this and individuals making such claims are either misinformed, or more typically, have an axe to grind––whether businesses upset that Yelp will not remove reviews they don’t like, or unscrupulous internet marketing “experts” trying to make a buck off of honest business owners with dubious reputation management schemes.

In 2010, a few businesses took these conspiracy theories to court and filed several class actions against Yelp -- all of which were dismissed in Federal court. Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of these cases with their ruling in Levitt v. Yelp. Examining the businesses’ best facts after several attempts, the court found no extortion or any other wrongdoing by Yelp. The Court also dismissed as implausible some plaintiffs’ claims that Yelp authored negative reviews about them as part of a plot to obtain ad dollars. Instead, the Court noted that the facts only showed that the reviews were likely from actual customers, noting that “Yelp is a forum for consumers to review businesses, and huge numbers of consumers do just that.”

We are obviously happy that the Court reached the right result, and saw through these thin attempts by a few businesses and their lawyers to disparage Yelp and draw attention away from their own occasional negative review. We at Yelp are moving on, and focusing on our core mission––connecting people with great local businesses.

Yelp Consumer Alerts: Helping You Make Educated Spending Decisions

Yelp goes to extraordinary lengths in an effort to protect consumers from fake reviews. Our recommendation software is at the center of our operations, highlighting only those reviews that we think are going to be most helpful and reliable for consumers.

In addition, we employ a team of investigators who track down the most egregious offenders. We share their findings with consumers on Yelp through our Consumer Alerts program, which allows consumers on Yelp to make more informed decisions about where to spend their hard earned money.

Today we’re releasing 61 new Consumer Alerts on the Yelp pages of businesses ranging from dentists and hairdressers to plumbers and car dealers. These alerts warn consumers about instances where someone was trying to pay for good reviews, give discounts or exchanges for reviews, or cases where a substantial number of reviews originated from the same IP address. The alerts will stay up for 90 days.

Consumer Alert IP Address

Online reviews are incredibly helpful to consumers and impactful for businesses. A Nielsen survey revealed that 82% of Yelp users visit the site when preparing to spend money at a local business, and a Harvard study found that a 1-star increase in Yelp rating can lead to a 5 - 9% increase in revenue for a restaurant. That’s why, although the temptation may be there to cheat, it’s even more important for everyone to play by the rules.

Yelp particularly comes in handy when making a purchase decision on a big ticket item, like buying a car or mattress, or a service a consumer is not familiar with or doesn’t use often, like a chiropractor or moving company. All the more reason, then, that we want to warn consumers about questionable business practices before it hits their wallets.

For example, imagine you were considering using Atticare, a home cleaning company in New Jersey, or JCA Mechanical Plumbing & Heating in New York City, each of whom were the subject of private messages through Yelp offering money or gift cards in exchange for reviews on Yelp. Or if you decided to buy a car from Hooman Nissan in Long Beach, CA, where an employee was caught sending messages to Yelp users offering Clippers tickets in exchange for a 5-star review and even requested including his name in each review. In Las Vegas, Yelp’s detective team found that more than 50 reviews for towing company AAA Anytime INC came from the same IP address, indicating that someone may have been trying to goose their rating. And what’s worse, this is the third time we have warned this particular company about their behavior with a Consumer Alert. Those 50+ new reviews have been submitted since their last alert in February of this year.

Hooman

The evidence Yelp’s team discovered of a Hooman Nissan employee attempting to purchase reviews for the business.

You’d probably want to know about that behavior, right? These businesses may actually be providing great products and services, but that’s really what their Yelp rating should be based on, not fake reviews. That’s why Yelp goes to such lengths to protect consumers from this behavior in the first place and inform them of it as well.

The good news is that Yelp’s team caught this behavior. We just think consumers have the right to know what’s happening behind the scenes when deciding what businesses to patronize.