I signed up for Yelp the same reason as a lot of people sign up for a review site — to complain. I was running an errand on a lunch break, which took me to a new part of town. I decided to eat at a cafe I’d never seen before. What promised to be a breezy lunch out turned to be an annoying episode — after I was informed they couldn’t make my dish, I chose something else. When the food finally arrived after a long wait, I found a shard of plastic in it. The waitress was apologetic. But I was annoyed and hungry, and I left.
So I ranted on Yelp.
I wrote a few more reviews… after which I got a message from “Ben” asking me if I wanted to be Yelp Elite. I didn’t know what to make of it, so I ignored it. He had to send me another message assuring me it was legit.
And thus started my love affair with Yelp. Being a Sydney newbie, I was on a naturally exploratory mode. There were so many new things to see and do! There were restaurants and parks and street festivals. There were hidden gems and famous spots that deserved their hype. And as I continued to explore Sydney, I found myself writing more and more, to give newbies like me a better idea of what to see and do.
So when we got an e-mail a few weeks ago saying that Yelp was closing all its community programs outside North America, I was stunned.
I would jokingly tell people that Yelp sponsored a big chunk of my social life. (Living in an expensive city, that was a big thing!) Besides all the free dinners and events, there were giveaways for movies, festivals and various random things.
But more than the freebies… I realise that one thing Yelp gave me was that it helped me fall in love with Sydney. I honestly don’t think I would’ve explored as much, or tried as many new things, than if I didn’t have a community behind me, giving me avenues to try new things and ideas on where to go next.
I could bring guests to some events… and not knowing many people back then, I had to swallow my shyness and ask people I had just met to go with me. All of them are currently still in my life — so it worked! Haha. I also met a lot of awesome people through the community. To be honest, none of the Elites I met transcended to “true” friendship — we don’t hang out outside of events — but that is all right. I am grateful for the opportunity to have shared meals with like-minded people who I otherwise would never have crossed paths with.
Honestly, losing the Yelp Elite community feels like the end of an era. The experience was instrumental in me getting to know Sydney and falling in love with it… but as I look at how I was then, a clueless, shy-er person who had no idea how to get around this city, and to how I am now… it’s funny. My friends who visit are always impressed as to how I know the ins and outs and hidden gems of Sydney, and I am proud of how comfortable I’ve become here. This is my city, now.
I will be fine. 🙂