Why Use Yelp When Traveling?
How often when traveling do you wish you could just find a local spot that seems to embody all the flavors of the region. Sometimes when mass consumed chain food just is not what you are looking for you just want to taste what makes the region different from your own home. Why would you want to eat fast food when you can have real soul food or why eat generic pasta when you can find a quaint little spot where a family has been hand rolling their pasta for over 50 years.
But where do you start??
When you pull up a local listing of foods, it can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. I have found that when I am traveling in populated areas and searching for that perfect gem, sometimes it can be hard to flag down a local and get a true opinion of the lay of the land as well. So what have I done to find the best Pizza in New York, the best gumbo in Louisiana, the best Seafood Tacos in California?? Believe it or not ,YELP!
For those not familiar with YELP ,it is an app developed with the every day user in mind. While a lot of times people might reference food reviews in local magazines or newspapers, that is but a small cross section, many times of which is driven by ad revenues instead of actual realtime accounts by patrons. YELP, on the other hand allows each individual who chooses to download the platform to leave their feedback including reviews, ratings, photos and accounts of both the good and the bad of a dining experience. This means people like you and me can influence other people like you and me to dine at various locations and get a true feedback of what we liked and did not like about those establishments.
Now, with that being said I will use a bit of discretionary warning. Don’t just log on and look up without being willing to sit and actually read reviews and look at photos. Sometimes people do tend to only reflect negative views while others might only leave positive. You as the viewer must be willing to select based on not just the first couple of reviews but actually scroll through a bit to get a full picture. But if you are willing to do this, you will find that you can uncover some of the best of the best in your city or those in which you are traveling.
YELP is not the favorite of many companies as they feel it takes the more critical viewpoints of critics away from their wheelhouse, but for the average person this is voice which better represents the common man and woman on their adventures not only in food but in other venues and aspects of life as well. You can find just about any type of business on YELP and for that reason it is a Mecca of discovery waiting to be had.
Within each business profile you can find not only reviews but also ratings and average price points. There is a link to the establishments website if available as well as an exact physical address and directions which link through Google Maps. You can narrow your search for businesses of interest by category or location through your initial search and can find stock images of items available in stores and restaurants as well as actual viewer images.
My personal favorite feature tends to be the photos option. I have found that after seeing a restaurant and becoming interested in its ratings, I then can get lost in a sea of photos or not only the foods available but also the menu. With these I can usually get a feel on if this will indeed be something I am interested in rather than something that just sounds good in description. With the photos of a menu I can see actual price points which helps me, as the budget traveler, get an idea of what I am going to be spending with a single visit.
After making a selection, I simply map my course and enjoy my meal. From there it is my turn to leave feedback of my experience. I make sure to always leave a review that is fair and accounts for the entire experience, trying to make suggestions as to highlights of the location as well as anything I found could be improved. Rarely there isn’t anything positive to be had and I have to leave a negative review. I include at least one photo for the next person exploring to have another reference and possibly help them in making their decision. And so the cycle moves forward to the next and so on and so forth.
With a community now of over 140 million active users, YELP and users like myself and others are creating our own unique world of helping others grasping the landscape of business around us. For travelers it simply makes sense to utilize such a vast and continually growing database to help us pave our path through cities and search for locations of interest. On the other hand, by using this app as one of our staples we are helping our community improve through fair statements. Customer service focus has shifted since the inception of YELP and many businesses have worked to be more diligent with providing excellent experiences to not only travelers visiting but the every day customer. And we as those who utilize the app are the every day person who is helping to make positive changes, help others and enjoy more of the world around us.