Yelp introduced its Waitlist feature four years ago, but the company keeps adding new add functionality to try to make it more appealing. Today, Yelp is announcing that parties of seven or more can now join the waitlist at participating restaurants, and that people can begin their searches with however many people they plan on joining the meal, rather than having to update it after they’ve already picked a restaurant.
People can also now use the Waitlist feature to indicate their seating preferences, like if they don’t want to sit at a shared table. Android and web users will receive a text (for Android) or a push notification (on the web) when it’s time to join the waitlist. Diners can specify when they want to eat, and Yelp will tell them when to join the list. Yelp designed Waitlist, with help from tech provider Nowait, for restaurants that are popular enough to almost always have a line, but that don’t take traditional reservations.
Of course, all these features are designed to put pressure on restaurants to offer an online waitlist in the first place, and for that demand to drive more business to Yelp. In that scenario, restaurant owners have to pay Yelp to use the feature, and the company says a subscription to its restaurant management system starts at $249 per month.
Yelp is eager to find more ways to make money off its platform, and this past summer, former Vice reporter Adrianne Jeffries found that Yelp partner Grubhub swapped restaurant phone numbers on their Yelp pages for Grubhub-operated ones whenever people wanted to digitally order takeout. This allows both Yelp and Grubhub to charge higher commission on takeout orders. Although Yelp’s convenient, every feature is tied into getting paid, including a more built-out waitlist.