Yelp offers more than the average review Web site

By ALEX FRUIN

While a number of students have mentioned in class and class assignments different resources we use for finding great restaurants and hotspots, none of us have profiled Yelp. Comprised of real reviews from real people, Yelp allows website users to search for any type of venue, whether it’s a restaurant, shopping center, doctor’s office, car dealership — you name it, it’s been “Yelped.”

Before I became a member of the Web site, I found myself using it fairly frequently while I served as the social chair for my sorority; the site allowed me to locate restaurants and locations across South Florida by searching within communities or even allowing me to search for venues with private rooms or that offer special deals throughout the week.

After my friend began writing a lot for Yelp last spring, I became more interested in the website and discovered there is much more than the simple restaurant reviews I thought that the site was comprised of. Members of the website, known as “Yelpers!” write about locations all over the country, covering events such as movie premieres, festivals, and even recently, the latest Cirque du Soleil event in South Florida, Kooza. Since Yelpers are in cities all over the country, it’s a great resource for people who travel a good amount; while living in New York City this summer, I frequently read and asked questions on the “Talk” threads to find out about the latest happenings around the city. Oftentimes, people will ask Miami Yelpers for their thoughts on local hotspots for upcoming travel and events.

Like so many other websites these days, members on Yelp are often entitled to discounts and special events. Many venues across South Florida are aware of the growing impact of the website and often encourage viewers of the website to mention its name to get percentages off their products—whether it’s a meal or a salon treatment. As the website has grown, it has expanded to include applications for iPhones and Blackberrys, so no matter where you are, you can find out what’s going on in the city you’re in. In the last year, Yelp has expanded into many more cities across the United States and has even launched internationally, with hubs in Canada as well as many European cities.

While this may not be an average journalist resource like others that have been profiled this semester, it certainly is a unique one. I’ve found that since becoming a member of Yelp, I’ve become not only more comfortable with writing reviews of all kinds, but also am much more aware of what events are going on around me, which has definitely helped me to get better acquainted with South Florida.

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