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Getting Help from Yelp

Ellis Island Las Vegas

Businesses are finding that the reviews and complaints on Yelp are fertile ground on finding ways to improve their businesses.

Ellis Island, a Las Vegas casino, once closed its craps tables on weekend nights, but after a guest complained about the policy in an online review, Ellis Island re-evaluated the situation and decided to keep the tables open until at least midnight.

The casino hosted a Yelp town hall for small-business owners to discuss best practices when it comes to dealing with online reviews.

The Las Vegas town hall is the third in a nationwide series Yelp launched to help small-business owners be proactive about their online reputations.

Ellis Island garners 4,000 views a month on Yelp, said Michael Galatte, the company's social media specialist. The casino is one of thousands of Las Vegas businesses inspiring online conversations. Some reviews are effusive; others drip with vitriol.

If business owners opt out of the conversation, it carries on without them. Some 85 percent of consumers use Yelp to find local businesses.

"The worst thing you can do is be super defensive,"
said Misti Yang, who manages the Las Vegas community for Yelp. "The best you can do is say, 'Thank you.' "

New businesses like The Birthday Suit, a waxing spa that opened in 2011, and Paint and Party, which launched early 2012, have embraced social media sites, deal-of-the-day offers and other online marketing avenues as a means of getting their names in front of potential customers.

"This is probably the best time to open a business, because there's no way we could have afforded the advertising," Paint and Party owner Donna Friese said.

Other business owners at the town hall weren't so sure the time needed to keep up appearances online is worth it.

"I don't know if I want to be on the Internet every five minutes," Stake Out Bar and Grill owner Bill Devlin said.

Devlin has a website and Facebook account for his Buffalo Bills team bar on the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Maryland Parkway. He has in the past offered a Groupon deal, but would rather cultivate customers in the neighborhood face to face.

Maybe Devlin is onto something.

A solid online reputation "starts in the offline world with great customer service."

— Darnell Holloway, Yelp's manager of local business outreach

Article courtesy Caitlin McGarry, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

photo credit: Bert Kaufmann via photopin cc

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