Today, Yelp announced a targeted plan valued at $25 million to help millions of local small and independent restaurants and nightlife businesses.
In this announcement posted on its blog, CEO Jeremy Stoppleman outlines a thoughtful response to the coronavirus situation. Yelp’s targeting of restaurants and bars is pretty straightforward. According to Yelp’s data, restaurants have seen a 54% drop in “interest” and nightlife establishments have seen a 69% drop in interest. On their blog, Yelp discloses other data around interest and the charts are interesting, yet as exactly as expected. You can find it here.
Yelp’s plan calls for putting a payment pause on its advertising products for local restaurants and bars. They define these as establishments with fewer than five locations. That makes a lot of sense in terms of delivering aid to the true local independent businesses. All of the details of the initiative are outlined in this FAQ.
It is nice to see that Yelp is going back to its roots. While Stoppleman started the company on the basis of trying to find a local doctor, the 16-year-old company gained its true momentum in the restaurant and nightlife sector. While it has done considerable work to broaden the review stream to include other types of local service providers – e.g., nail salons, roofers, massage therapists, etc. — its bread and butter remains is the dining and nightlife space.
Many of the core elements of today’s announcement require the customer to do little or nothing. This is really important in times like this as the last thing a restaurant owner needs to do is jump through a bunch of hoops. For instance, any charges between March 16 and 31 are waived “automatically”. They’re “automatically” pausing any Yelp Ads until May 1, unless the customer wants to run them during April.
I went and counted the number of times the word “automatically” appeared in their detailed announcement. It was 10. This is what all initiatives focused on small business owners need, initiatives that take as much of the friction out the process as possible. These will be tough times for millions of local restaurants and bars. Yelp is lending a big hand — in terms of the free solutions they’re offering and, importantly, the process by which they’re delivering that value. I’d give this effort as 5-star rating.