I’ve just become the latest Yelp convert. What a great website, and an even better iPhone app. Yelp is another example of a site that aggregates user reviews and ratings to recommend everything from restaurants to clothing, to religious organizations. It’s localized so you can find reviews for most everything near where you live or wherever you’re traveling in North America, Ireland and the UK. This came especially handy during a recent trip to San Francisco in my search for the perfect modern tailored men’s dress shirt. I’ve also been using it lately to uncover hidden gems for dining, most of them holes-in-the-wall that I’ve driven by many times without ever visiting. Not anymore.
I’m already a fan of these types of sites. I’m an avid user of Trip Advisor, which aggregates user reviews and ratings on hotel accommodations around the world. A couple of years ago, I booked my entire European trip based on user recommendations I found on Trip Advisor. Every single hotel I booked was exactly as described, and in most cases, much better. And there would have been no other way for me to discover these hotels without such a site, as all of them were not parts of big chains.
More and more sites are popping up that are crowd sourcing user ratings, reviews and recommendations – and I don’t see an end to it. Who needs to listen to a select few self-proclaimed experts to guide us on which films to watch, restaurants to visit, or cars to buy when you can get the straight goods from everyday people. I can’t remember the last time I followed the advise of a movie review in a newspaper or on television. Not when I can go to Flixster, instead.
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.