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Good For Groups: Yelp Partners With Gather Events Platform For Restaurant Events Reservations, Planning

"Our partnership with Gather is part of our accelerating transactions on Yelp helping to deliver on our mission to connect people with great local businesses," says Yelp SVP Chad Richard.

Yelp is continuing to find niche methods for expanding its services for local businesses — particularly in the crucial food services space — by partnering with restaurant events planning platform Gather Booking Network

In deciding to form an alliance with  five-year-old Gather, Yelp says an estimated $30 billion is spent annually on events and parties in the U.S. And while “good for groups” is an option on Yelp Reservations and other platforms such as OpenTable, Yelp further adds that “there has not been a single destination to search for and book events ranging from birthday parties to corporate dinners.”

Gather’s partnership with Yelp is meant to fill that gap by connecting restaurants and event venues with the over 15 million people looking to plan events each year.

Both Yelp and Gather bring a good deal of respective scale to their alliance. Gather represents about 5,000 restaurants and venues, while Yelp attracts more than 100 million unique visitors per month. Additional partners will continue to be added to the Gather Booking Network, including top online event marketplace EVENTup, which Gather recently acquired.

An Events Upgrade

“Surprisingly, most events today are planned with phone calls, Excel grids and handwritten notes,” says Gather founder and CEO Nick Miller. “It can be a frustrating and inefficient process for everyone: restaurants, event planners and consumers.”

During 2017, Miller says Gather customers planned and executed over 700,000 events, grossing more than $1 billion.

“With the launch of our Yelp partnership, we’re bringing event management up to par with other industries, making it simple and intuitive to book, plan and execute great events,” he adds.

“Gather has modernized the process of booking restaurants for large groups and events,” says Chad Richard, SVP of Business and Corporate Development at Yelp. “Adding group booking to Yelp is a perfect complement to the thousands of restaurants that can be booked with Yelp Reservations and Nowait, our remote waitlist feature.”

Building Yelp Beyond Reviews

For the past several years, Yelp has assiduously attempted to broaden the perception of it  as a reviews and listings provider and into to a platform that helps direct transactions between consumers and businesses.

For example, its Request-A-Quote feature, which lets Yelp users get the price of services before making a purchase via the guide platform, has “come into its own” and generated millions in revenue.

Over the past two years, Yelp has continued to expand its restaurant services beyond its Yelp Reservations (fka SeatMe) with the purchase of former partner Nowait, a mobile platform that lets consumers virtually hold their place in line at casual dining establishments.

Yelp’s transaction business also was rounded out with last year’s $20 million purchase of location-based loyalty and retargeting platform, Turnstyle, which runs an in-store platform that then connects marketing services to consumers’ phones at 3,500 business places.

While acquisitions have been a focus, Yelp has also sought partnerships in certain cases, as in the case of the sale of food delivery service Eat24 to GrubHub/Seamless in August 2017 for $300 million — two years after Yelp acquired the on-demand app ordering tool. Selling Eat24 and collaborating with GrubHub/Seamless accounted for a 79 percent drop in transactions dollar in Q1 2018.

“Our partnership with Gather is part of our accelerating transactions on Yelp helping to deliver on our mission to connect people with great local businesses,” Richard says. “Users come to Yelp with very high intent and when we go beyond discovery with a transaction, the user and business owner both win.”

Reasons To Partner

Asked how Yelp saw the potential for the large group restaurant reservations space — and why the company felt partnering with an outside entity made more sense than acquiring or crafting such a business and placing it with its existing holdings, Richard tells GeoMarketing:

“Many restaurants are struggling with rising costs and shrinking margins. Large groups and private events are becoming an increasingly important part of running a profitable restaurant. Providing Yelp users with a streamlined process for booking large groups and private events is a great way to help restaurants scale this highly profitable portion of their business.”

As for whether this deal is viewed as complementary to Yelp Reservations, Richard says, “The Gather partnership is a great way for us to build on our momentum with Yelp Reservations and Nowait. Yelp users are already building a habit of coming to Yelp to find a table. We are building on this by adding more restaurants, larger tables and private rooms. It’s all about helping diners find the perfect place to eat for any occasion or group size.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.