I think that the tactics that Yelp utilizes in their business model should be illegal. Although the company has defended its approach in court, I still believe that Yelp is so prolific that the majority of consumers base their decision solely on the Yelp reviews. This approach greatly disfavors businesses that do not subscribe, which means that Yelp’s tactic is a form of racketeering (Crockett, 2019). If an organization’s actions are banned, they can switch their focus on customers and profit from them. For example, a free version of the service can display a portion of reviews. In a paid version, the customers will have access to the full reports to decide whether this particular restaurant matches all of their preferences. Additionally, some income can be generated from the restaurants if they pay to be displayed at the top of customers’ searches. This way, instead of manipulating reviews, Yelp can attract more attention to the subscribed restaurants, similar to the paid advertisement of websites on Google that pop up before the top searches.
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Many other businesses can similarly revolt against Yelp since this method can be useful in bringing more attention to the issue, ultimately weakening Yelp reviews’ reputation. However, this process can come with a price for businesses in the form of a bad online reputation. I think that the presented scenario is realistic since otherwise, Yelp would not be as successful as it is today. It appears to be extremely discriminatory against businesses that choose not to use Yelp (Crockett, 2019). In the past, I have experienced Yelp’s influence by using the services that have the highest ratings. After reading the article, I realized that I will no longer use Yelp to support small businesses.
Crockett, Z. (2019). The restaurant owner who asked for 1-star Yelp reviews. The Hustle. Web.