Today’s Solutions: October 22, 2021

The online business review platform Yelp has really expanded its search and rating criteria over the past few years. Users can now not only rate whether restaurants are good for kids or groups, but also search based on specific categories such as “women-owned.” As of this week, Yelp users will now be able to also rate how well businesses and their customers are adhering to covid-19 safety protocols. 

According to a statement released by the company, the platform’s new pandemic specifics allow customers to report if staff and other customers are following social distancing and mask protocols as well as confirm safety and environmental additions such as outdoor heating, temperature checks, and contactless menus. 

The new details will be available under “health and safety measures” on the app and website. To protect businesses and ensure the system operates with integrity, the business must receive several reviews with corresponding consensuses about the breached safety protocols before it is publicly displayed. Additionally, responses are reviewed and eliminated after 28 days to accommodate for changes in both business behavior and local guidelines. If a restaurant has multiple locations, the safety review must specify which location was visited. 

In addition to health and safety measures, Yelp is also offering businesses the opportunity to give their customers more operations details. They can now indicate whether they offer amenities such as DIY meal kits, heated outdoor seating, or one on one sessions (for fitness locations). 

The new features are in place to help promote the health and safety of patrons and owners as well as provide clarity for customers seeking the safest experience possible. According to Yelp’s statement, the company has implemented “advanced technology” to monitor feedback and ensure the feature is not misused and even believes the features could boost patronage for businesses taking proper precautions. In trial runs, the platform saw “consumer interest increase 41 percent for businesses that added COVID-19 business updates” between September 1 and December 31, 2020. 

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