Diner Review Sites and Waitlist Management – The Inherent Conflict of Interest

Diner Review Sites Waitlist Management NextME Yelp

Photo Courtesy of Twilio

With the introduction of ‘Jump Into Line’ and other features, Yelp is making waves in the restaurant waitlist market. Since it’s a big name that most everyone knows, many diners are jumping on board but restaurant operators have been feeling wary of implementing Yelp’s new features. Yelp’s acquisition of NoWait in March of 2017 brought them a large number of restaurant clients who may not necessarily approve of Yelp’s service or practices. Although using one platform for everything – from waitlist management and operations to diner reviews – seems like a good idea, we began to wonder… Who really wins and loses when a diner review site starts managing a restaurant’s waitlist?

Having easy access to a review platform and the ability to book a reservation is a win for consumers – we aren’t here to debate this fact. But what about the conflict of interest this creates for businesses? Based on our research and the opinions of some industry experts, it’s clear that there must be a compromise solution that provides a great experience for customers without being detrimental to restaurant operations and brand perception. It seems a number of restaurants aren’t happy with the platform and are looking for alternatives. Here’s why…

Sending diners to a review site while waiting in line can increase negative reviews

We all know that there are certain times we can expect a crowd at our favorite restaurants. But that doesn’t mean we don’t hate waiting. If you’re using a review app to manage your restaurant’s waitlist, you’re sending people to a review site at the exact moment they’re most likely to be annoyed by having to wait.  

According to The Street, two of the top restaurant complaints are an unexplained wait and slow service. Review sites like Yelp are trying to sell restaurateurs on a system that would recommend customers post a review while they’re waiting for a seat. Common sense says this is a bad idea. And yet, many restaurants are turning to this review site to manage their wait lists.

Wouldn’t you rather have a simple and effective waitlist solution that allows you to control the content your waiting customers are given? NextME allows you to do just that. With this easy-to-use app, you can send your guests to a page that gives them information and entertainment, rather than asking them for reviews. Your guests can explore the menu, learn about current specials, and interact with social media. So their wait time will seem shorter and they’ll be ready to order by the time they’re seated. The best part about NextME is that diners DO NOT have to download a mobile app.

Review sites build features that benefit diners, not necessarily restaurants

At first, Yelp’s ‘Jump Into Line’ feature may seem like a good idea. Customers can get their names on your list remotely, so they’ll have less wait time when they arrive. Great, right?

What about when large parties jump in? And how can your host or hostess quote accurate times when they don’t know who may be jumping in? There are a number of reasons this feature may not be a good fit for every restaurant.

But review sites like Yelp has now made it mandatory for restaurants to use their ‘Jump Into Line Remotely’ feature. Don’t like it? Tough. You’re stuck with it.

NextME, by contrast, allows you to opt-in for only the features you actually want. Our system has launched a similar feature to allow guests to put their names on the list remotely, but you won’t be stuck with it if it doesn’t work for you. Instead, you’ll get to try it out, see if you like it, and if not, simply turn this optional feature off. With NextME, you maintain control over what features are offered to guests, to help you create the most efficient and useful system for your needs.

Review sites are overpriced compared to apps that specialize only in waitlist management

We all know margins in the restaurant industry are notoriously thin. Managing the money to keep your head above water can be a challenge during slow periods. So why would you want to pay big money for a system that doesn’t even work well for you?

Review apps like Yelp, are highly overpriced compared to other apps that specialize only in waitlist management. Yelp just increased its price from $100 per month to $300 per month. That’s $300 out of your budget each and every month. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money elsewhere?

By contrast, NextME’s paid plans start at $29.99 per month, and we even have a free option for those who are just starting out or who don’t need our more in-depth features.

So you can spend your money on a big name, hoping you can make your restaurant fit into their system. Or you can spend way less for a top-notch system that is customizable to fit your needs. The choice is yours.

All review sites require diners to download a separate app to check their places in line

Some guests are more than happy to download and store dozens of apps on their phone, no matter how frequently they may use them in the future. But more often, convincing a guest to use precious space on their phone is a challenge. And for others, they just don’t want to be forced into downloading something that they’re not sure will be of benefit.

All review sites require diners to download a separate app to use the waitlist feature. So your restaurant winds up having to sell diners on someone else’s business. And if they don’t buy in you’re forced to manage their wait on your own, separate from others who have the app installed. This is inefficient and inhospitable to new guests.

One of the major benefits of NextME is that our system doesn’t require, or even request, a download. Instead, we’ll simply text a link to waiting diners, and they can then view content on a web page you’ve designed. Your host stand will have the app, guests will have a seamless experience directed through the web browser of their choice. What could be simpler?

The bottom line…

You want to entertain and inform, not beg for reviews from annoyed guests. You want to maintain control over your business and use only the features that actually work for you. You want to keep costs low and features high. And you want a solution that doesn’t require guests to download yet another app they don’t actually want.

NextME offers all this and more. Why not schedule a demo today to see how our waitlist solution can work for you?