Our Software Engineer, Amber Y., gives the down low on some of the bad ass (we can say bad ass, right?) projects our 20 teams worked on at Yelp HQ on Yelp's Engineering Blog here.
You may remember at the last Yelp Hackathon we had special guest star, Guido van Rossum, creator of Python; built some Kegmates and enjoyed some civilized merriment with mimosas. This time around, highlights included: special guest, Russ Simmons, co-founder of Yelp; self-balancing iPhones (brought to you by Team Kegmate) and the unveiling of the amazing Unofficial Yelp Theme Song -- contributed by some non-engineers! We’re also planning to incorporate several of the Hackathon projects to Yelp.com and our mobile applications soon so keep an eye out!
Finally, we also confirmed that Four Loko, while seemingly a good idea at the time, doesn’t necessarily translate to productivity (cough: Bryce). But hey, we’re all for trying new things. Speaking of: we’re hiring!
And now everyone together... Yelp came knockin on my door!
You may have heard the news last Tuesday that we launched Yelp Check-in Offers: an extension of Yelp Check-ins that gives a way for businesses to reward their most loyal customers, while drawing new ones through their door. For yelpers, it’s a great way to save money or get free stuff for what you’re already doing: supporting the amazing businesses around you!
Over the weekend, we already more than doubled the amount of businesses offering Yelp Check-in Offers. Yelpers in the US, Canada, UK and Ireland (phew!) can now take advantage of nearly 3,500 deals -- and today, they can do so now on both their Android and iPhone (Blackberry is on its way).
Yelpers: I explain in this video how Yelp Check-in Offers work and how consumers can unlock these offers on their Android or iPhone devices:
Businesses: Our Manager of Local Business Outreach, Luther Lowe, explains how business owners can upload their own free Yelp Check-in Offer here:
Additionally, we’ve created some Yelp Check-in Offer goodies for your business’ website, front desk, bar, menus, reception - you name it! - including a Yelp Table Tent and Card. Also check out our Flickr page for more downloadable, printable Yelp Bling.
We know many of you are gearing up for turkey and pumpkin pie this holiday season, but even more of you are preparing for what follows: Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.
38 million of you already turn to Yelp each month to help make a spending decision and an additional 60% of you plan to use your mobile as your secret shopping weapon -- so why not get something in return?
This holiday season, Yelp’s gift to you: Check-in Offers on iPhone and Android!
Yelp Check-in Offers is a way for businesses to reward their most loyal customers, while drawing new ones through their door. For yelpers, it’s a great way to save money or get free stuff for what you’re already doing: supporting the amazing local businesses around you!
Since launching check-ins in January of this year, we've seen on average a 50% growth month/month in check-ins. Additionally, over 1/2 million Sales and Special Offers have been uploaded to-date via our free suite of business tools -- meaning we already have an existing relationship with businesses who have showed interest in promoting deals and announcements to yelpers. But overall, Yelp Mobile as a whole continues to grow. Out of 300,000 applications, Yelp was named to Apple App Store Hall of Fame. We also see more than 2.6M engaged users month/month leverage Yelp on the go to help them making a spending decision; a significant portion of whom do this through calls, directions and search, in addition to checking-in.
Starting today, you can use your Yelp Android and iPhone apps (Blackberry fast on its way!) to take advantage of over 1,500 Yelp Check-in Offers that have already been uploaded -- and that number is quickly growing. With the holiday season looming, there's no better time to start building your own check-ins. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be rewarded: so give from the heart, shop locally, and Yelp on.
If you’re a business owner and want to learn how to upload your own, free Yelp Check-in Offer, refer to this post where we discuss more about Yelp Check-ins and why it’s important to your business.
This week, we want to draw business owners' attention to the hottest new feature of Yelp's totally revamped business owner dashboard: Check-in Offers.
Background: What’s a “Check-in”?
With smartphone usage among consumers growing like crazy, Yelp has developed software (or “apps”) customized for these devices (think: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.). The devices are “location aware,” meaning they offer a way for consumers to perform searches for local business within the vicinity of the phone’s exact location. When users are able to interact with Yelp using such exact coordinates, cool stuff starts to happen.
One of those cool things is a “check in”. Check-ins provide an entirely new way for your customers to exclaim their love for your business: by literally walking through your door and telling their friends they’ve arrived at your place of business. And because Yelp’s Android and iPhone apps synchronize with Twitter and Facebook, your business’s buzz can travel far and wide. Your customers have been using Yelp to “check in” to your place of business ever since we launched the feature nearly a year ago; in fact, our weekly business owner email provides metrics for how many people check into your business every week.
Announcing: Check-in Offers
Checking in has become popular with consumers -- but how can you, the business owner, leverage this exciting trend to affect your bottom line?
Today, we’re excited to announce Check-in Offers. This new feature within the business owner dashboard allows you to reward customers with a coupon when they “check-in” to your business. It provides a measurable way to reward your most loyal customers while attracting new ones.
Check-in Offers is available in the countries we offer our free suite of tools, Yelp for Business Owners, which is the US, Canada, UK and Ireland and while the vast majority of businesses on Yelp can take advantage of Check-in Offers, we have restricted a few categories from participating. These are the types of businesses you’d expect -- plumbers, limousine drivers, locksmiths, etc -- where a service is provided on the go, rather than at one physical location.
What happens when a consumer unlocks your offer? If a consumer chooses the "Use it Now!" option for his Check-in Offer on that visit, it will disappear automatically from his device in a few hours time. The user or the business owner can also tap a button on the phone to mark the offer as used, expiring the timer immediately.
If a consumer chooses to "Save it!", that Check-in Offer will be saved several places on their device: the “About Me” page; at the top of the business page where they earned that offer and on the Check-ins tab on the Yelp app. The user can then redeem the offer anytime, following the same process above.
Over the past six weeks Yelp took the local non-profit world by storm by hosting Yelp Helps! parties in cities all across the U.S. Our goal was to help people connect with amazing local charities and the interest and enthusiasm from the community was phenomenal. We've been recapping each Yelp Helps! party on our community blog, but wanted to take a final look at the impact of this program.
6,800 interested volunteers from the Yelp community!
A whole lot of goodwill and good times.
Party after party, in every city that Yelp Helps! touched, we heard a common point of feedback: This is exactly the type of crowd that we have the hardest time reaching - young civic minded professionals with an interest in making a difference. Let's do it again next year!
But most of all, we want thank everyone involved in this program. From all of our event sponsors, non-profits, and of course the Yelp community, it sure feels good to dig in and support great local causes!
This holiday season, Yelp is pledging to support our local businesses, our cities and our economy by shopping local whenever possible -- and we’d love for you to do the same!
Today Yelp released 50 city-specific holiday shopping guides in a special edition of our Weekly Yelp: 2010’s Yelpiest Gift Guide Ever! Everyone knows yelpers have got the lock on merry mall-ternative gift ideas and we've compiled a rollicking guide that highlights unique, affordable gift ideas in your neighborhood that’ll keep your credit card from cringing all the while making you feel nice (not naughty) about supporting the businesses in your hood.
You’ll also be in good company! We recently polled nearly 2,000 consumers on how they’re going to shop this holiday season:
A whopping 90% of respondents feel it's important to support locally owned merchants this holiday season.
Nearly half of the shoppers surveyed are looking to spend an affordable $20-40 a person on holiday gifts -- the Yelpiest Gift Guides have got your back with a variety of selections for under $40.
More than half of shoppers would prefer to receive a one-of-a-kind item from a local merchant versus a gift certificate from a big box or department store.
60% of shoppers plan on leveraging their mobile device to help them make a spending decision while holiday shopping. Consumers can discover unique hidden gems right in their neck-of-the-woods by using Yelp’s award winning mobile apps to find nearby stores and restaurants while they’re already out-and-about shopping.
It’s no secret that mobile has been a huge focus for us this year. With over 2.6 million users in the past month, we’ve been developing like crazy on our iPhone and Android applications, and working hard to bring goodies to our other platforms. Couple that with our focus on rolling out Yelp in new countries and today you have an app made in heaven: the 6th member of the Yelp Mobile family, Windows Phone 7!
Available both to our yelpers in Europe and today, in the US, you can now do the following with Yelp 1.0 for Windows Phone 7.
Use location aware technology to find pubs, restaurants, shopping, etc. nearby
Read reviews for a business, browse photos, map its location and get directions
Given the continued interest, we’re hosting another one! Join us Thursday, November 11th at 11:00am PDT to learn how to put your best foot forward to current and potential customers -- as well as keep up-to-date on all the exciting developments going on at Yelp.
For example, later this month, we’ll be building on top of Yelp Check-ins by introducing Check-in Offers. Check-in Offers are different from Sales and Special Offers, a popular feature we’ve had for over 2 years in which more than a half-million announcements have been created to-date. Yelp is a transactional website, and upcoming features like Check-in Offers help to further bridge online discovery and offline buying. In other words no one types “Sushi” near “Los Angeles” for fun.
(Mock-ups of some of the features we discuss on our popular webinars.)
But don’t worry Chicagons, Yelp hasn’t forgotten about you. Starting Wednesday, 11/3 - 11/10, you can start booking your treatments at 20+ exclusive spas, salons and more. The best part? Buy the deals during this time frame and they’re good for the ENTIRE year! Now that’s hot.