Yelp Reno's Growing Influence - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Yelp Reno's Growing Influence

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This year, the reviewing site is celebrating 10 years of critiques in Reno. The reviews on local businesses are written by unpaid reviewers...their customers. Customers like Doug Hunter, who is doing what just about everybody else does in a restaurant…checking his smartphone. But what he’s really doing is taking part in a local revolution, giving more power to customers and providing a valuable service to future ones. As he showed us, "You push 2 buttons and you type, and you give your opinion...that's the beauty of it!"

After Doug samples his “Smores Bar” and Americano at Reno’s Homage Bakery, he starts typing away…sharing his review online. He read off part of what he wrote today: "Both we're delicious and I'll get them again. There's no parking other than on the street but a half block walk is worth it." Doug's review shows up immediately. That's where Yelp's Michael Tragash catches it at Reno's Coffeebar. As he told us, "Doug’s review is great…it has a lot of detail."

Plenty of others see it too. Yelp Reno has thousands of readers. Tragash told us, "What that means for Reno is that there's a ton of people, whether they're locals or visiting the area, who are looking at this to see what's great. These are real people writing real reviews about real local businesses. They're not restaurant critics. They're not culinarians necessarily or have a hobby or passion for that sort of thing, but these are their experiences at these local businesses."

But giving power to the people can lead to some dishonesty. Yelp will flag and take down any review that's considered fake, whether it’s a business promoting itself…or a competitor bashing it. But even all the legit reviews can be rough…businesses certainly take the good with the bad on Yelp, and no business is happy with a bad review. On Yelp you’ll find plenty of those, but Tragash sees positives in even one-star reviews: "Within those negative reviews, there's a lot of constructive criticism."To keep it honest, Yelp has a strict rule. As Tragash told us, “There's never been any amount of money you could pay yelp to actually alter any reviews or remove any reviews from the business page."

Back at Homage Bakery, their 143 reviews on Yelp average an excellent 4 and a half stars, but they get bad ones too. Just last week, somebody gave 1 star for customer service. Owner Nicole Alumbaugh still likes the feedback. As she told us, "You take any bit of information provided by the customer, from your employees, and make it better for the next time." Even though the rare negative review can smart, she’s a fan: "You can see instantly if people are reacting positively or negatively, and you can reach out to them as well. So it really gives you great feedback to use for your business to build it in other areas."

Tragash agrees. As he put it, "You're getting first-hand reports of what's happening in your business. And so if you're having a service issue at the cash register, you're going to know about it."

For Homage customer Doug Hunter, who’s unpaid like the other reviewers, it’s really about sharing his love of going out and food. He's written 165 local critiques…with more to come. As we left Homage, he told us, "I'm going to BJ's for lunch this afternoon, so I'm sure I'll review that place as well."

It only takes a few seconds to join the Yelp community and write some reviews yourself. Or maybe you'd like to check out all the Reno reviews for free. Just click the link below:
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