When I'm a fan of something, I generally am "all in"! One of my goals of this space is to share some of my favorite things with you--goofy, serious, big, small, well-known, hidden gems, and everything between those. With that, I introduce to you my first Friday Fave!
This week, I want to highlight something I seriously love: Yelp! You've probably heard of the website or app (and if not, I swear you live under a rock). It was started in 2004 to help people find local businesses. A lot of people think it's just for restaurants, but you can also search for a doctor's office, a place to get your car fixed, or festivals! On the flip side, the content is generated by users who write reviews.
I personally joined Yelp in July 2011. In 2012, I realized active users of Yelp had a little "Elite" badge on their profiles. Generally, I'm big on reading reviews before I do just about anything; I do my research! Realizing I needed to give back by writing reviews, I decided to do that on Yelp--and to earn that Elite badge! In January 2013, I became a Yelp Elite member.
Elite member? Wondering what that means? Well, you can read more about it on Yelp's website, but from my perspective, it's a status given to engaged Yelpers (writing quality reviews, interacting with others on the website, being your real self on the website, etc.). In turn, there are opportunities to attend exclusive "Elite Events". Through this, I've enjoyed new and old restaurants, had my fill of adult beverages, toured distilleries, tried my hand at archery, made homemade buttercream frosting, escaped from an escape room, won contests, and SO much more. (Did I mention these things were free?) Through these experiences, I have also met people--fellow Elites and friends--who I likely would have never met otherwise! I even attended a Yelp Elite Event in Charleston, SC; my mom and I were welcomed with open arms by that community.
There are also many non-Elite events, and especially if you are fortunate to live in a city with a Community Manager (Shout out to Louisville's: Emily H.!), you're likely to see some great things from Yelp outside of the website and app!
Conveying the fun I've had with Yelp--and how useful it has been to me--is hard to put in a nutshell, but I want to share four more things I love about Yelp, and none of these are exclusive to Elites.
- Bookmarks: I have well over 1,000 businesses bookmarked on Yelp. Anytime someone recommends a business to me, I bookmark it on Yelp. That way it stands out when I am searching later. You can also use the app to view your bookmarks based on location. So, if someone recommends a place in Chicago and I check my bookmarks in Chicago, I might see that place and remember, "Oh yeah, I wanted to go there!" (Yelp also recently unveiled a group feature for bookmarks to group them together as you please!)
- Events: Just like on Facebook, you can add events on Yelp. I've found this to be a good way to find festivals, concerts, art shows, and just about any other kind of event. (I plan to write more about event searching/finding in general in the near future!)
- Check-ins: As you probably see, Yelp is very social. You can check in... which I always do. (Then it reminds you to review the places at which you've checked-in, which is convenient.) What I love even more is the check-in offers! One time my parents and I were in New York, and we each got free "shots" for checking in on Yelp! I've also gotten free churros at Merle's Whiskey Kitchen here in Louisville!
- Contests: At least in Louisville, there are a plethora of contests on Yelp! Either from myself or a friend winning, I've won tickets to a beer festival (Beer & Loathing) and to Louisville SWIG--among other things! My friends have also won tickets to Desserts First and Forecastle--and so kindly took me along to those! Following your local Yelp's social media accounts makes it easy to keep up with these contests.
There you have it. Elite or not, Yelp can be a very useful tool--and a very fun community. I'm so happy to be a part of the Yelp Louisville squad!
Photos courtesy of Maggie Huber and/or Yelp Louisville (except for the last one--that's mine.)