Yelp’s Waitlist, analytics and POS updates aim to address shifting consumer preferences

Yelp has expanded its Waitlist feature to support takeout diners, the company announced Tuesday. The announcement also includes enhanced analytics for multi-location restaurants, and a new Point of Sales (POS) integration and guest profiles that support “personalized and targeted marketing opportunities.” 

Waitlist now includes takeout. Previously focused on dine-in experiences, Yelp’s updated Waitlist product now supports both dine-in and to-go customers via the Yelp Waitlist kiosk.

The interface for Yelp's Waitlist app.
Source: Yelp.

Hosts can enter takeout orders in the app, along with pertinent information such as whether the order was submitted online or over the phone, and the type of car to facilitate curbside pickup. The new feature also enables hosts to text customers when their orders are ready, which can help restaurants and patrons maintain social distance during pickup. Repeat customer information, such as phone numbers and dietary preferences, are also stored to streamline data entry on future visits.

“For us, the greatest benefit of the new Takeout feature is that we’re able to communicate directly with our guests — for instance, letting them know if their order isn’t quite ready when they arrive and then texting them once it becomes available,” said Nathan Hughes, director of operations at Mr. Stax Inc. (a management company that operates numerous IHOP franchises), “Additionally, it reminds our guests that for future visits they can get on the Waitlist in advance by simply using Yelp.”

The takeout feature is available now at no additional cost to restaurants with nine or fewer locations; pricing varies for restaurants with 10 or more locations.

Diner analytics. Yelp for Business is now offering enhanced analytics to give multi-location, chain and franchise restaurants brand-level performance metrics. These restaurants can also view data for individual locations, and the platform can highlight outliers so that managers can identify exceptional or underperforming locations.

Yelp's diner analytics for a multi-location restaurant.
Source: Yelp.

Metrics, which are shown over a given date range, include number of customers seated, number of customers seated via Yelp, seating conversion rates (the percentage of Waitlist parties that were eventually seated) and wait time accuracy. 

Guest profiles and a new POS integration. Yelp’s new guest profiles enable staff to autofill information, such as seating or dietary preferences, for diners that have visited previously. And, the new Point of Sales (POS) integration automatically updates hosts when a check is paid.

Customer information from the POS is combined with guest profile data to give restaurants a more complete picture of their audience, which can then be used to inform their marketing strategies. This information includes the amount spent, what was ordered and who the server was. The POS integration is available to Waitlist customers now for an additional charge.

Both the new POS integration and guest profiles support targeted marketing opportunities, the Yelp announcement reads.

For users. Yelp has also updated some of its user-oriented search and discovery features.

“On the Menu” is a new section for business pages on the web. It displays a restaurant’s popular dishes, links to the menu and includes time-stamped menu photos so that customers have a better idea of whether the menu that they’re viewing is up to date.

The platform also updated its dish and photo search capabilities. When a Yelp app user searches for a particular dish, the app will show images of that dish under each business listing in the search results.

The company also launched an iOS widget that surfaces restaurant recommendations to users. The recommendations rotate throughout the day.

Why we care. “Share of consumer restaurant searches for takeout on Yelp have increased by 3,200% since March 1, 2020, and even recently, as of February 1, 2021, have remained 2,265% above prior levels (YoY),” the announcement reads. The new Waitlist features can help marketers who serve local restaurants accommodate consumer preference for safer dining options.

The enhanced diner analytics may help restaurant marketers and owners by providing a holistic view of how their brand is performing, while also providing the flexibility to zoom in on specific locations. The guest profiles and new POS integration may help facilitate operations, and Yelp says the data can be used to target audiences, although it hasn’t provided further detail on exactly what is supported.

Even before the start of the pandemic, Google was adding features to its Google My Business product to support restaurants. Now, Yelp is fighting back with more SaaS-like features that offer value to restaurants, providing it with a revenue stream outside of advertising. Its new user-oriented features will also help it maintain relevance with diners, and as a result, restaurants as well.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and public school teacher.

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