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Helping Local Businesses Reopen During COVID-19 with New Products and Features

With all 50 US states now partially reopened, it’s critical for businesses to easily communicate up-to-date information on how they’re adopting new safety protocols into their daily operations. Consumer trust and safety is a top priority for Yelp and, now more than ever, people want peace of mind as they consider returning to their favorite local businesses. To help bridge that gap, Yelp is introducing multiple new features that will help businesses and consumers as establishments reopen their doors. This includes showing people the health and safety measures businesses are taking and making dine-in service a smooth transition with Yelp Waitlist.

Surfacing Critical Health and Safety Information

During this period of uncertainty, Yelp has given business owners a platform to communicate how they are operating. Businesses can log into a new Yelp for Business experience to easily indicate any operational changes they wish to display on their business page, such as: new hours of operations, availability of delivery, takeout or curbside pickup, or virtual service offerings.

Today, we’re launching a new COVID-19 section on Yelp business pages, which features important updates, including details on health and safety measures the business has implemented and updates to their service offerings. Businesses can indicate whether they’re offering dine-in service, outdoor seating, in-person visits, as well as virtual services, curbside pickup and delivery options. The section also features a customizable message from the business, which we originally introduced as a COVID-19 banner in late March. Since then, more than 380,000 businesses have activated the free banner with a personalized message to consumers.

For people looking to schedule a professional haircut, head back to the gym, or dine in at a restaurant, they’ll be able to find out more about how a business is protecting both their employees and customers with the following attributes.

  • Social distancing enforced: Lets customers know if a business is implementing physical distancing protocols. For example, restaurants may have additional spacing between tables, and salons may have partitions to protect employees and customers.
  • Sanitizing between customers: Particularly for gyms and salons, this attribute lets customers know whether a business is regularly sanitizing after each customer visit.
  • Staff wears masks / Staff wears gloves: Confirms that employees are taking the necessary steps to reduce the spread of germs when in contact with customers or goods.
  • Hand sanitizer available: Informs customers if sanitizers or disinfecting wipes are provided at the entrance of or within the establishment.
  • Limited Capacity: Lets customers know if a business has changed their capacity guidelines and is allowing fewer people in their establishment at a time.
  • Contactless payment available: Informs customers they can minimize contact by avoiding the physical exchange of cash or credit cards.
  • Temperature checks enforced: Gives customers a heads up that a business will check their temperature at the entrance.
  • Masks required for customers: Informs customers that a business accepts customers only if they’re wearing masks for the safety of other customers and their staff.

Ensuring this critical information is accurate and up-to-date is especially important during the current health crisis, which is why this new section will include a timestamp indicating when the business’s hours of operation or personalized message was last updated. We’re also combining machine learning with human moderation from our User Operations team to keep Yelp business pages useful to consumers with up-to-date, publicly available information. For example, based on what a business shares on their website or social media pages, we’re ensuring consumers know if they offer curbside pickup, delivery or virtual services.

Users can view the new COVID-19 section on Yelp business pages on web today, and by downloading the latest version of the iOS and Android app. In addition to these features, we’ve compiled a list of other Yelp page updates to consider as you prepare to reopen.

Later this month, we’ll start collecting responses from consumers directly to better understand how businesses are handling their health and safety measures. Users will be able to share this information with us through the business’s Yelp page, which will be aggregated and surfaced as reassuring and informative content to further validate the information provided by the business.

Helping Diners and Restaurants Ease Back Into the Dine-in Experience

Prior to the pandemic, Yelp Waitlist helped consumers stay home a little longer or gave them a heads up on busy restaurant wait times. With dine-in service greatly affected in many cities, Waitlist has turned into a critical way for Yelp to support restaurants and diners during COVID-19. We’ve seen significant interest in Waitlist as establishments prepare to reopen because it helps restaurants avoid crowded waiting areas or lines outside the door, as well as better manage their front of house in a time when reduced capacity has impacted dining room floors.

Yelp Waitlist is helping businesses make the transition back to dine-in service a smoother one. We’re now offering a contactless experience by providing restaurants with a printable QR code. This poster allows guests who haven’t already joined the online waitlist to easily scan the code and join through Yelp. 

 

This week, restaurants will be able to better manage their dining rooms with two new Yelp front of house management features that will help monitor seating capacity and control wait times for Yelp Waitlist. 

With new Manual Wait Controls, restaurant staff have more control over their waitlist and can manually adjust wait time estimates during out-of-the-ordinary circumstances — such as reduced capacity, smaller staff and bad weather. Hosts can adjust wait times for future parties in increments of 15 minutes and can easily enable or disable the changes.

A key responsibility for hosts during the recovery phase will be to abide by social distancing measures enforced by their local governments. Instead of manually counting diners, we’ll soon add a Capacity Monitor to Yelp Waitlist, which lets businesses set a maximum seating capacity. The host will receive an alert when they approach 90% of their reduced capacity, and they will also receive an alert if they’ve exceeded it. When a business reaches their maximum number of guests, the host can then manually adjust wait times using Manual Wait Controls to seat diners more slowly. This allows restaurant staff to focus on customer service and other health and safety protocols.

 

COVID-19 has caused a lasting impact on many people and small businesses. As local economies and small businesses start to reopen their doors, we’re dedicated to prioritizing the needs of local businesses and consumers. More soon.