Yelp has a tremendous opportunity in local advertising but there is also intense competition. One big caution is that half of Yelp's traffic comes from Google and that makes it way too dependent on a company which isn't exactly a fan.
If Google is using the "wisdom of the crowds" to determine how it arranges restaurant information in search results then in a lot of ways it believes professional reviews, and especially those from its Zagat franchise, trump user reviews. But when it gets down to displaying the text of diners' reviews, Google unfairly believes that its own consumer reviews are the fairest of them all.
Does a dramatic reduction in outbound traffic from online travel agency sites mean they are getting stickier or are they perhaps consciously retaliating against hotel-chain websites for direct-booking campaigns? Or is something else up?
Yelp's frustrating attempt to push users from the mobile web to its smartphone app has apparently paid off.
The next great user review product will need to balance the ease of reviewing with the reliability of the review. That's not a balance that any of the major players are willing to embrace yet.
Given the fact that Yelp acquired SeatMe a couple of years ago, it was only a matter of time before the Yelp partnership became as stale as yesterday's bagels. With Yelp, Priceline's OpenTable, TripAdvisor's The Fork, and countless startups such as Reserve pushing ahead, the competition in the restaurant reservations sector will only get more heated.
Uh oh, the U.S. government is now sanctioning unverified user reviews. Even Donald Trump's undocumented immigrants can chime in about the TSA or IRS. Seriously, this is a smart move by the feds to use a modern tool such as Yelp to get feedback. Let the games begin.
Travel brands must be conscious about how people express themselves online to provide a platform-specific personalized customer service.
Yelp would like to be more like TripAdvisor. But it's not.
Any of the big travel industry players should be looking at Yelp seriously, though they're likely to be outbidded by some of the mainstream tech players.