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How To Use Yelp To Increase Reservations

How to Use Yelp to Increase Reservations

Yelp works for restaurants, so make sure your business page is current.

As a restaurant owner, Yelp should be a keystone of your digital marketing strategy.

As one of the biggest social review sites on the Internet today, Yelp garners more than 89% of U.S. review traffic. That alone is reason enough for your restaurant to have a presence on Yelp.

Yet, you’ll learn in this article, there’s another big reason to be on Yelp – reservations.

Let’s look at how to use Yelp to increase reservations at your restaurant, leverage reviews and ultimately grow your profits.

What is Yelp Reservations?

You’re probably familiar with Open Table, and perhaps you even use it.

But, did you know that Yelp has a very similar reservations service?

Consider these statistics about Yelp’s reservations service:

  • They seated more than 92 million diners in 2016.
  • Nielsen says Yelp is the number one most frequently used review site for finding restaurants.
  • People use Yelp nearly three times more often than they do Open Table and four times more often than Zagat.
  • Yelp saves restaurants on average $800 per month on cover fees for every 1000 online reservations.

In addition to procuring reservations online through Yelp Reservations, you can also manage your tables with their system.

Yelp allows you to keep track of your floor and service teams from any device and manage your wait list from anywhere in the world at any time. You can configure the system to work with your floor plans and shift times.

As an added bonus, you can send text messages to your customers when a table opens up.

You also receive a warning if the customer wait time exceeds the quoted wait time.

Let’s sum up Yelp Reservation’s offerings before we look at how to use Yelp reviews to increase reservations:

  • Your customers can view availability and book reservations on your restaurant’s Yelp page.
  • Diners can also book reservations directly from your website when you place the booking widget on your site.
  • The system sends SMS (text) reminders that encourage your guests to confirm or cancel their reservations.
  • You can manage wait lists by giving your diners an accurate wait time estimate using Yelp tools.
  • The table assignment portion allows you to optimize seatings.
  • Use the server management feature to divide tables among your servers and print reports.
  • There’s one flat monthly fee of $249 per month that includes everything, even an iPad.

Yelp Reservations drives business to your restaurant and makes it easy for customers thus increasing your business. But, there’s one important piece to Yelp that you want to leverage – reviews.

Now let’s look at how to increase reservations through reviews.

Increase Reservations

Respond to all your customers reviews, both negative and positive.

Reviews Hold Power

Social proof has never been more important. With the advent and continual growth of social media, it’s also never been easier for people to shout out to the world and let them know what they think of your restaurant.

One of the best ways to use Yelp to increase your reservations is through your Yelp reviews. (tweet this)

A Harvard review study asked the question, “Do online consumer reviews affect restaurant demand?” 

Interestingly they found that just a one-star increase in Yelp ratings leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue.

So, you can see how Yelp reviews can drive your restaurant business. Just consider the competition down the street with three-stars. If you have four or five-stars, you are the big winner.

The more stars you have, the more likely your potential customers will be to use Yelp Reservations to reserve a table at your restaurant.

How to Get Reviews

Your restaurant customers trust online reviews, of this you can be certain. The question then becomes how to get them.

Yelp specifically tells restaurants not to ask customers for reviews by promising something, and they go on to say that offering discounts or freebies in exchange for reviews is not appropriate.

But, you certainly can tell people to find you on Yelp, and you can ask them for reviews as long as you are doing it professionally and without a promise of goods.

Here are some best practices for getting reviews:

  • Make sure you’ve claimed your Yelp restaurant listing if you haven’t already done so.
  • Fill out your Yelp page completely. Include information about your hours, location and menu.
  • Add a link to your website as well as links to your other social media platforms.
  • Upload photos of the outside and inside of your restaurant, including photos of your menu items, tables and even customers (with permission). Photos are key to a successful Yelp page.
  • When you do receive reviews, respond to every single one – positive and negative. (tweet this) Thank your customers for leaving a review. Always respond with empathy to negative ones and do your best to solve your customer’s problem.
  • You also want to remember that when you respond to a Yelp review, you’re not only responding to the reviewer but to the rest of your Yelp audience – especially the ones considering using Yelp reservations to book a spot at your restaurant.
  • Encourage your diners to leave you a Yelp review as they leave your restaurant. You can even send them a text or hand them a card with information on how to find you on Yelp. Or, add it to your receipts.

Final Thoughts

Bottom line – you can easily use Yelp to increase reservations without spending a fortune.

The benefits of using Yelp Reservations are many.

You can increase your total covers (a cover is a diner who eats a meal – this is different from the table as it represents a single person) because you can accept reservations over the phone, in-person, on your website and through Yelp.

What’s more is that you don’t pay per cover or per reservation. You know just exactly what you’ll pay each month because the price never waivers. Whether you take 100 reservations or 1000, the price is the same.

With Yelp Reservations, you save money.

Another great benefit is that Yelp Reservations helps you reduce no-shows because the system confirms seating times and party sizes through email and text message.

So, you know ahead of time if you’ll have open tables. You can even take credit card holds for large parties or busy weekend evenings.

Most restaurants find that combined with positive Yelp reviews,  Yelp Reservations not only helps increase reservations, but it takes care of all your table management needs.

Yelp helps you save time and money so you can run your business more smoothly.

At Restaurant Engine, not only do we create great, responsive websites, but you can integrate the Yelp widget on your website so you can take reservations. Ready to take the plunge and create a website with an online menu, blog and beautiful photos? Get your free website consultation today!

Images: Photo by Ali Yahya and Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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