This year we’ve seen diners return to restaurants at record numbers. In fact, even amid the ongoing pandemic, diners seated via Yelp remained above 2019 levels in August 2021.* Meanwhile, searches for takeout remain higher than pre-pandemic levels – up by 77% in August 2021 compared to August 2019. These trends illustrate a new normal for restaurants that need to manage the experience of both online and in-person diners at the same time the industry is facing an unprecedented labor shortage.
At Yelp, we recognize that restaurants need a partner that helps streamline operations, allowing staff to focus on serving their diners and providing great customer service. Today, Yelp is launching Yelp Guest Manager, bringing Yelp for Restaurants front-of-house products and features together into one comprehensive solution. Yelp Guest Manager includes new digital ordering and guest loyalty integrations, as well as new features that help simplify front-of-house operations for both dine-in and to-go ordering. Today we’re also announcing a new Virtual Restaurants attribute, to make those businesses easily distinguishable to customers as delivery and/or takeout-only restaurants.
Streamlining Front-of-House Restaurant Operations
Yelp Guest Manager helps restaurants manage all of their front-of-house operations across the entire dining experience through one fully integrated solution — by bringing together Yelp Waitlist, Reservations, Kiosk, Takeout, Table Management, online brand building and more into one suite of offerings. Yelp Guest Manager combines Yelp’s high-intent diner network with powerful solutions that simplify and streamline restaurant operations from takeout and delivery orders to dine-in seating.
The new Yelp Guest Manager features the following Yelp for Restaurants software solutions:
- Reservations & Waitlist: Enables restaurants to easily integrate digital reservations and waitlists into their Yelp page and websites, providing diners the opportunity to join the waitlist from home (or elsewhere), with accurate seat times and live status updates that helps reduce no-shows and line-abandonment for restaurants.
- Table management and POS features: Gives hosts and servers what they need for smooth front-of-house operations including custom floor maps and sections, as well as integrations with POS and other systems.
- Takeout: Lets restaurants add takeout orders, track them, and notify guests via text message when their food is ready for pick up.
- Kiosk: Helps teams focus on hospitality by allowing diners to check themselves into a digital waitlist upon arrival, and receive automated wait times and text notifications with their table status. Available as an add-on to Yelp Guest Manager.
Throughout the pandemic, Yelp’s front-of-house technology has helped ease operational burdens, including supporting restaurants as they adopted new food delivery methods like takeout, delivery and curbside; providing tools for restaurants to communicate directly with diners; and easing the front-of-house workload to automate check-in, manage waitlists and contact diners. In fact, in August 2021 we saw a 69% increase in new adoption of our front-of-house technology compared to August 2020. Restaurants, including Yelp Guest Manager customer Snooze Eatery, have found the technology to be especially beneficial as they navigate the pandemic.
“Yelp Guest Manager helps us reduce friction in the front-of-house,” said Adam Porter, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, Snooze Eatery. “And it provides everyone greater peace of mind during Covid, by ensuring guests show up to dine at our restaurants at the right time, eliminating crowded waiting spaces.”
By centralizing management of takeout and delivery orders, guest communications and table flow, Yelp Guest Manager offers increased functionality to help manage the guest experience wherever they choose to dine. Current Yelp Waitlist customers will continue to have access to existing features through Yelp Guest Manager. Existing Yelp Reservations customers will be able to upgrade for free to gain access to Yelp Guest Manager. Yelp Guest Manager starts at $249 with unlimited covers.
Recognizing Loyal Customers to Drive Repeat Diners through Punchh
Loyal customers have always been a driving force behind restaurants’ success. To help restaurants encourage repeat diners, today, Yelp is also announcing an integration with Punchh, an industry-leading loyalty and engagement platform, enabling restaurants to provide personalized customer loyalty programs through Yelp Guest Manager.
National and regional brands can now combine the power of Yelp Guest Manager with Punchh’s marketing services to receive rich diner data – including loyalty tier, seating preferences, lifetime visits, birth date, and anniversary – allowing the front-of-house staff to deliver a more personalized experience for loyal customers, in addition to more relevant and engaging promotions. This diner data from Punchh is only shared with Yelp Guest Manager customers when the diner opts-into sharing their data through the restaurant’s loyalty program.
Shyam Rao, co-founder and chief executive officer for Punchh, shared, “We are thrilled to team up with Yelp to help restaurant brands deliver more engaging offers and personalized experiences that serve the needs of the modern restaurant guest. Just like Punchh, Yelp continues to innovate and deliver products that provide a differentiated experience for concepts, while enhancing each phase of the customer journey.”
Optimizing Delivery, Takeout and Curbside Orders through Olo Integration
As of September 1, 2021, the number of businesses that have adopted the “offers takeout” attribute on Yelp increased nearly 15% since June 2020, and adoption of the “offers delivery” and “offers curbside” attributes have increased nearly 50% and 550% respectively during the same time period. As this trend continues, and online orders increase, there is a growing need to simplify managing multiple customer experiences. To address this opportunity for national and regional restaurants, Yelp Guest Manager will now integrate with Olo, a leading on-demand commerce platform that powers digital ordering and delivery programs for the restaurant industry.
The integration will automatically input new orders made on a restaurant’s website or app, if powered by Olo, directly into the Yelp Guest Manager app. This allows restaurants that leverage Olo for their digital ordering experiences to manage all of their front-of-house guests from one iPad, streamlining takeout, delivery and curbside operations, ultimately increasing efficiency.
Additionally, restaurant partners that are also Yelp Ads customers can now place a pixel (provided by Yelp) on their Olo ordering site providing the ability to measure and attribute ad-spend impact on view-through and click-through conversions. This update will allow brands to better quantify the impact of their Yelp investment and even more effectively plan their ad spend.
New Yelp Guest Manager Features Simplify Restaurant Operations for Dining In and Curbside Pickup
Yelp is releasing new Yelp Guest Manager features for hosts and managers that support restaurant front-of-house operations including, new languages in Yelp Kiosk, reservation seating conversion analysis, self-serve settings for reservations and curbside pickup SMS.
- New Languages: We’ve added 7 new languages to Yelp Kiosk, allowing for even more customers to seamlessly add themselves to the restaurant’s waitlist so front-of-house staff can focus on hospitality. Available languages include: English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Spanish, Filipino, and Vietnamese.
- Reservation Seating Conversion: Yelp Guest Manager will now allow restaurants to see what percentage of their reservation parties were actually seated in the Business Owner App. This insight will allow restaurants to better measure the effectiveness of their reservation cancellation policies.
- Self-Serve Reservation Settings: This new feature will allow restaurants to adjust their reservations capacity directly in the business owner app. Hosts will now be able to modify the minimum or maximum size for reservations, adjust the number of guests or parties that are accepted in 15 minute intervals, and edit the pre-booking notes for guests without contacting the Yelp support team.
- Curbside SMS – Yelp Guest Manager will now give the host the option to indicate when an order is curbside and automatically text the consumer with order updates. The confirmation text asks guests to text back when they arrive and provide details, such as their car make and model to help ensure hosts have the information they need to manage and deliver orders efficiently.
Providing Virtual Restaurants with a New Path to Reach for Diners
We’re continuing to see new food delivery businesses open each month on Yelp – in fact, in Q2 2021 local food delivery services new business openings were up 166% above pre-pandemic levels. To meet this pandemic-driven need, Yelp is announcing a new, free business attribute that helps users identify virtual or delivery-only restaurants. Our new Virtual Restaurants attribute allows ghost kitchens, virtual restaurants and virtual food courts to easily identify themselves and their service areas to customers, eliminating customer confusion around their delivery experience. For customers who are looking to dine-out at a restaurant, this designation also helps clarify that no seating is available, and in some cases that delivery is the only way of ordering food from the virtual kitchen.
At launch, users can discover Virtual Dining Concepts restaurants like Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen, Mr Beast Burger, NASCAR Refuel and more on the platform.
“Yelp has been a great partner as we build our virtual brand portfolio and we are excited to have our concepts now highlighted on the platform,” said Trish Giordano, Co-founder of Virtual Dining Concepts. “We look forward to working with Yelp as they assist consumers with having a better understanding of the virtual restaurant industry.”
To add the attribute, log into your Yelp for Business account and follow these steps:
- Go to the Business Information section
- Click Add (or Edit if you have existing content here) next to “Amenities and more”
- Click Yes next to the attribute you’d like to turn on
- Click Save Changes
On the app and web, users can find this attribute listed in “Amenities and More” on a business page.
The National Restaurant Association’s most recent 2021 forecast projects restaurant sales will total $789 billion in 2021, a nearly 20% increase from last year creating growth opportunities for restaurants everywhere. We want to help restaurants capitalize on the growing demand we are seeing in online and delivery and those returning to dining out. Restaurants can also expect more new Yelp Guest Manager features to be available soon.
*Diners Seated via Yelp includes diners seated via the Yelp app or Yelp on web, it excludes diners seated via Waitlist widgets on restaurant websites, walk-in diners, phone calls and other host adds.