Yelp has partnered with Hipmunk to allow people to book hotels within the business review platform. While this is not the first time Yelp has offered a way for users to purchase from businesses right on its site, it is the first time it’s done this with hotel bookings.
Yelp says the idea is that people will book a place to stay immediately after reading the Yelp reviews on it. This creates a way to keep Yelp users within the platform and encourages them to leave reviews and other information about the place they stay.
Those looking for a hotel on the Yelp platform will now see a “Reserve a Room” button on hotel pages that are supported by Hipmunk. Users click on the hotel room they want and are then taken to a booking page within Yelp to complete the purchase. Hipmunk then sends out a confirmation notice to the booker via email. HotelTonight and other vacation booking platforms work much the same way. What we don’t know is if Hipmunk will be a standalone booking partner or if Yelp plans to integrate other travel sites into this new offering.
Yelp rolled out the ability to book local services such as day spas and hair trims via the Yelp platform over a year ago. Businesses have been able to present potential customers with discounts for booking and payment within Yelp’s platform as well. But most of this has been for beauty services and the beauty space is a crowded one. There are a bunch of beauty booking apps such as StyleSeat and Beautified that offer reviews, bookings and discounts of local spas and hair salons, just like Yelp. Of course, Yelp is a broader space that offers much more.
“After launching the Yelp platform, we knew we wanted to expand to additional categories,” said Mike
Ghaffary, Yelp’s VP of corporate and business development.
Yelp acquired OpenTable competitor SeatMe shortly before the Yelp platform announcement. The company then turned the tech behind SeatMe into Yelp Reservations and began providing table reservations within the platform last March. Yelp has since tacked on the ability to order food delivery as well. However, this is the first time that it has turned its attention to hotel bookings. It’s also the first time the platform has gone beyond local vendors to partner with a major site.
Yelp’s mobile platform has been a boon to its review site business in recent years. Quarter 3 revenues are expected to be in the nearly $100 million range, due in large part to ad sales on the mobile app. But it’s not clear if people will choose Yelp to book travel instead of hitting up Airbnb or HotelTonight’s app.
Yelp could also see a potential growth in revenue in other areas such as tickets for concert venues or movies in the future. Yelp is adding a few new food delivery partners, as well as wine tasting booking partner, CellarPass, in addition to Hipmunk. “We’re looking to make Yelp as useful as possible for consumers, so we want to add all kinds of transactions and booking capability in the future,” Yelp spokesperson Rachel Walker tells TechCrunch.