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Yelp Debuts AI-Powered Chatbot to Connect Consumers with Relevant Local Businesses and Services

In a move to capitalize on the surging demand for AI-powered conversational interfaces, Yelp has unveiled a new AI chatbot aimed at streamlining how consumers discover and engage professional services through the platform. The chatbot, rolling out initially on Yelp’s iOS app with Android support coming later this year, harnesses large language models from OpenAI in conjunction with Yelp’s proprietary business data.

Rather than relying on traditional search queries, users can now describe their needs or tasks directly to the AI assistant through a chat interface. The bot will follow up with clarifying questions to better understand requirements and locational context before generating a “project” that matches relevant professionals from Yelp’s listings.

Users can then directly message and coordinate with the matched service providers within the app’s chat interface. Yelp is also introducing a new “Project Ideas” section to proactively surface potential home improvement, maintenance, or other projects that may require hiring professionals.

“Yelp Assistant is a game-changer for hiring service providers, alleviating friction for consumers in finding the right pro for their needs while providing pros with the information they need to evaluate and win jobs,” stated Craig Saldanha, Yelp’s Chief Product Officer.

Beyond enhancing its consumer experience, Yelp is opening up access to the AI-powered conversational capabilities through a new Fusion API. This will allow third-party websites to integrate Yelp’s chatbot for generating business suggestions and details through natural language queries like “A vegan brunch place open this Saturday at 9am.”

The AI chatbot push represents Yelp’s latest effort to transform its local business discovery platform and capture a slice of the booming generative AI market. While the initial focus is on service providers, Yelp hasn’t ruled out potential restaurant recommendations through conversational AI further down the line.

Yelp is also revamping tools for the over 11,000 restaurants on its network with upgrades to its Guest Manager for improved table management, real-time waitlist updates for customers, and AI-generated dish recommendations before diners are seated.

As AI models rapidly reshape digital experiences across industries, Yelp is doubling down on leveraging the technology to enhance local business discovery, streamline service acquisition for consumers, and open new engagement channels for its merchant partners to connect with prospective customers.