Yelp is launching a new AI assistant to help you connect with businesses

Yelp announced a new AI-powered chatbot today for consumers that helps them connect with relevant businesses for their tasks. The company joins a long list of organizations leaning into AI chatbots as an assistive medium.

The company is rolling out the AI assistant on its iOS app under the “Projects” tab with plans to expand to Android later this year. Yelp said that the chatbot uses OpenAI’s large language models (LLMs) along with its own data to ask users queries about their problems and connect them with relevant professionals for the job.

Rather than using a traditional search box to look for different kinds of professionals for the problem, you can describe the issue directly into the chat interface.

The bot asks follow-up questions to gather more information along with your zip code to create a project. You will be able to see messages from professionals for their projects once the bot sends them information. You can respond to those conversations with a custom reply or use the app’s quick reply feature.

Yelp Assistant

Image Credits: Yelp

The company is also introducing a new “Project Ideas” section to nudge you to start a new project that might involve you searching for services on Yelp. Some of the current suggestions include maintaining your home, installing new lighting in your home, and upgrading your outdoor space. Later in the summer, the company will make this feature more personalized with recommendations and checklists.

“AI enables us to transform the way people discover and connect with local businesses,” Craig Saldanha, Yelp’s chief product officer, said in a statement.

“Yelp Assistant is a game-changer for hiring service providers, alleviating friction for consumers in finding the right pro for their needs while providing pros with the information they need to evaluate and win jobs,” he added.

The company is not immediately thinking about leveraging AI chatbot experience for restaurant discovery.

“We’re working to understand how this type of natural language search could be used more frequently on our platform in the future to evaluate how best to meet this consumer need, including searching for restaurants & services,” Akhil Kuduvalli Ramesh, SVP of product at the company, told TechCrunch over email.

Yelp Fusion AI

Along with making the bot available for consumers, the company is also launching an API so other sites can include an AI-powered bot for business discovery. Users visiting this third-party website can ask the chatbot for suggestions like “A vegan brunch place that is open this Saturday at 9 am” or “Suggest a good workout studio in Miami with a swimming pool.”

Yelp said that the bot will return relevant suggestions with information including Yelp ratings, price details, review highlights, photos, and AI-powered business summaries.

Yelp Fusion AI API for third-party website

Image Credits: Yelp

Businesses can test out the new Fusion API with 30-day access. Currently, the API supports single-turn queries and responses, with support for multi-turn chat coming later this year.

Yelp already had a Fusion API for businesses like Amazon, Apple, Ford, and Mailchimp to integrate Yelp content into their products. The new release brings a conversational chatbot experience into the picture.

New tools for restaurants to manage guests

Yelp is also revamping its guest manager experience for more than 11,000 restaurants on its network. The new Guest Manager design allows restaurant operators to see cover flow for better staff utilization, look at real-time table status, and add notes for shift managers.

For customers, Yelp is rolling out waitlist updates with more accurate waiting times and text message updates for place-in-line status. Soon, the company will send texts to users with recommendations for dishes before they take their seats.

Waitlist SMS Place in line Update and Preview Popular Dishes

Image Credits: Yelp

The company is also revamping the Yelp Kiosk design so users can easily join the waitlist and check themselves into the restaurant.

In 2023, Yelp clocked a net revenue of $1.34 billion with a 12% growth year-on-year. After a $3 million decline in 2022, the company posted a 173% jump in net income by registering $99 million in profits. While Yelp stock has gained over 35% year-on-year, it is down roughly 12% year-to-date.

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