Yelp has its place. When I’m driving through an unfamiliar part of the vast state in which I live and I need to know where I can grab a ginormous sandwich, it’s a handy tool. The other bells and whistles, I could live without. But Yelp’s rolling out even more features, with Nation’s Restaurants News reporting it will add an “updated” section to the app’s homepage that function like a Facebook news feed. Which one of you asked for this?
I see the appeal for restaurants and for Yelp itself: Restaurants must pay to join this new Yelp Connect program, and those restaurants will be the only ones whose updates post in the RSS-style feed. According to Yelp, restaurants should use that tool to post things like special holiday hours, events at the restaurant, new menu items, weekly deals and happy hours, etc. (I thought this was what restaurants had Facebook pages for.) Users will see these updates on the app’s homepage and in a weekly email newsletter. According to NRN, Yelp Connect costs restaurants $199 per month, though businesses that sign up early pay a discounted rate of $99.
I do have to hand it Yelp for another feature it rolled out this week, though: Predictive Wait Time is an upgrade to the app’s previous Waitlist feature that shows an estimated wait time at restaurants. So if you’re looking at a trendy restaurant for dinner tonight at 8, you can get a rough idea of how long you’d have to wait for a table and can join a wait list from within the Yelp app itself. TechCrunch reports that works in conjunction with a Notify Me feature that will send you an alert when you should jump on the wait list; if that restaurant you want to visit at 8 usually has a 45-minute wait, it will ping you at 7:15 to join the list.
These updates will have varying degrees of utility for you depending on how much you rely on Yelp to help you make dining decisions. I’m just using it to find big sandwiches.