Yelp’s Spring Product Release Leans on LLMs

Yelp today launched its annual Spring product release. And it’s heavy on AI. Specifically, the company is positioning large language models to better connect consumers and local businesses. Its 15 new features also include a content API for third-party publishers and a guest manager for restaurants.

Taking those one at a time, the AI-centric features come together in Yelp Assistant, a new conversational AI agent meant to guide users through the process of finding a local pro. For example, if you’re looking for a landscaper, the agent will ask several questions to qualify your project and recommend a pro.

This importantly makes Yelp more conversational, as opposed to keyword-driven. This plays into a growing trend, led by the likes of ChatGPT, to train users how to find things using natural language. This will take a while, as Google has erstwhile conditioned the world on caveman-like keyword-driven search.

“Yelp Assistant is a game-changer for hiring service providers,” Yelp Chief Product Office Craig Saldanha told Localogy Insider, “alleviating friction for consumers in finding the right pro for their needs, while providing pros with the information they need to evaluate and win jobs.”

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Front of the House

Moving on to the second feature teased above, the Yelp Fusion AI API will now let third-party partners and publishers integrate Yelp’s content. This not only includes Yelp content, but conversational AI functionality such as that noted above, thereby letting third-parties piggyback on Yelp’s AI investments.

This API could be useful for online publishers that specialize in a specific vertical, such as an online forum or publication about home remodeling. To deepen the site experience, such publishers can infuse actionable Yelp content for their audiences, using the API to pull in the right content and functionality.

Lastly, Yelp’s new Guest Manager helps restaurants manage their front-of-house operations. This includes organizational systems that help restaurants manage things like waitlists, reservations, and guest seating. It also offers analytics and features to optimize table assignments for servers.

“AI enables us to transform the way people discover and connect with local businesses,” said Saldanha. “Our Spring Release demonstrates our accelerated pace of innovation as we continue to meet and anticipate the evolving needs of our users, and establish Yelp as the go-to platform for home services.”

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From the Source

We’ll leave you with additional details provided to us by Yelp, which go deeper into the many features of the Guest Manager. See them below (verbatim from Yelp) and stay tuned for more coverage as these new features roll out over the coming weeks. We’ll be watching to see how they move the needle.

New analytics drive operational efficiency for restaurant owners

It’s not just hosts getting a revamped Yelp Guest Manager experience, business owners will also find new table usage analytics, user permissions functionality, online reservation management features, and traffic analytics in their Yelp business owner account. The new analytics dashboard displays a holistic view of table states and usage, including seat delay and average table turn time, enabling restaurant owners to better find efficiencies and increase diners seated. New user permissions, rolling out in the coming weeks, provide restaurant owners and general managers with more precise control over staff access to
Yelp Guest Manager features, getting the right tools into the right hands. With online reservation management, restaurants can now create reservations and assign tables without having to use the host app. These new updates are available in the Yelp Guest Manager business owner accounts on desktop. And in the coming months, restaurant owners will have access to new traffic attribution analytics that detail valuable cover and booking trends.

New Waitlist updates improve wait time accuracy and diner communication

Yelp Waitlist has made it easier than ever for diners to join the waitlist at their favorite restaurants from anywhere, while freeing up host time to focus on other important front-of-house operations. Wait time accuracy continues to improve with AI through our use of neural networks to help diners better plan their
restaurant outings. In addition to more accurate wait times, new text message place-in-line updates, such as if the line is moving faster or slower than anticipated, mean there’s no need for diners to keep an eye on the app or ask when they’ll be seated. Soon, diners will also receive texts to check out popular dishes before they’re seated. Hosts can automate updates or send them manually, simplifying diner
communication and helping them seat guests faster, reducing table turn times.

Redesigned Yelp Kiosk enhances the diner check-in experience

Yelp Kiosk just got a new look. This newly redesigned experience makes it easier to join the waitlist and check yourself in when you’re at the restaurant, streamlining the process for diners while allowing the host to manage other front-of-house operations.

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