Society

Q&A: Chatting with Crystal Henrickson of Yelp Canada about their new local Community Manager and web ranting

Crystal Henrickson (shown) is in Ottawa this week to meet with Yelp's new community manager in Ottawa.

In an era when everything is shifting online, local businesses are finding new ways to connect with their customers in cyberspace. Just one of the online communities that is helping to fill this need is Yelp, which allows users to review businesses and services and share their experiences with others across the site. Crystal Henrickson, the national community manager for Yelp Canada, is visiting Ottawa this week following an announcement that the company hired a new community manager in Ottawa. Prior to her arrival, Elizabeth Balsom chatted with Henrickson about what this move means.

The new community manager in Ottawa is Andrea Banks. What will her duties be?
She’ll be connecting people online and offline in the city. She’s already planning her first event, which is happening in the next few weeks. She will also plan parties and get-togethers throughout Ottawa. She will work with local business owners to show them how to use Yelp by doing things like claiming their listing and adding photos, and she’ll also be our public relations person for the city.

How will Yelp help local businesses in Ottawa?
Yelp helps businesses gain feedback from the reviews. Plus, if a business doesn’t use Facebook, or doesn’t have a website, Yep can be really beneficial. For instance, last time I was in Ottawa I was looking for a place that had a strong WiFi connection, an open layout for meetings, and I also wanted a place that served adult beverages because we would be there in the evening. I couldn’t connect to the business’s website at the time, but I could find the information on Yelp.

What are some interesting services you provide to Yelp users?
One of the fun things on the site are badges. [According to the Y Badges fansite, badges are electronic rewards given to Yelp users who obtain badges by “checking-in” to a business establishment, similar to the location-based mobile app FourSquare.] I have an “Instigator” badge, which means I checked in somewhere and then my friends did afterward.

Tell me the truth, is Yelp just a place to rant?
I love this question, and I think what’s interesting is that this might be true for the Internet in general. However, 80 percent of reviews [on Yelp] are voted three stars or higher, with five stars being as good as it gets. More people are sharing things that they love rather than things they don’t like. It’s a really positive place to be. When I use [Yelp], I want the business to succeed, and I want others to see my review. I don’t have that many terrible experiences with local businesses, and most of the time I’m happy with the businesses I post about.

Ottawa’s first Yelp event, Cocktails With Your Community Manager will take place Tuesday, July 24, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Murray Street (110 Murray St.).