Some years ago when I decided to leave Yelp and start my own review website, I formed an alliance with the food review site Urbanspoon. The administrators for that site actually spoke to their users, engaged with the community, and worked with us. Unlike Yelp who has never even sent me a real human email. Although I will say that MOST of the Yelp Community Managers I met were cool.
The thing that I really liked about Urbanspoon was that the written content would remain on my own site, and they would provide a linkback to my reviews. This would bring me traffic from their side, and to their benefit we bloggers put an Urbanspoon badge on the posts we want linked. It has been a two way beneficial relationship. Unlike places such as Yelp, who only consume content from their members. On occasion rewarding their “Elite” users whom are chosen by some invisible Yelp God somewhere who decides whether or not they like your face.
All that being said, Urbanspoon as we know it is now on its way out. The site was acquired by a company called Zomato which I believe is India based. By the way, speaking of India, read about how my music will be in a Kannada feature film, Uppi 2, starring the famous Kannada actor, Upendra, and musical director Guru Kiran! That’s right, I’m Karnataka, India famous biznatches!
I never heard of Zomato before this, and I have no idea on how they function. However, based on the comments that I have read on the “Prime Lounge,” they have not been very responsive to the community. What is a “Prime” you ask? Primes are the equivalent to Yelp’s Elite Squad, we are the highly valued contributors to the Urbanspoon site.
Primes and other users alike are concerned with how this takeover will affect their reviews and years worth of contributed data. I have seen complaints from at least one person who said that all of their reviews were deleted by some guy who didn’t seem to like her questions, although she stated that she was in the process of deleting them anyway. That concerns me, but won’t affect me, I learned long ago from my disappearing reviews on Yelp that you should never give a website control of your data. Even if Urbanspoon disappears right now, my data will all be safe and sound on MY site! All I would need to do is write a short script, or manually delete the “badges” that I embedded.
As I mentioned, I don’t know anything about Zomato, good or bad. No one from their side has reached out to me directly as of yet. I’m not sure what the plan is with this “acquisition.” It seems to me that when you take over a website, you do it because you want their resources, ie: content, users, etc. So I really don’t know where they are going with this. Time will tell. I won’t write this off as a bad thing, change is a constant in life, and this may be a good thing. These guys are trying to compete with Yelp, and any foe of Yelp, is a friend of mine! Haha.
Tabelog is another option if these guys don’t do good by us. I have established a personal relationship with those guys, they value my contributions. I have even had dinner and drinks with their COO, CEO, and Community manager!
Dinner and drinks which they treated me to by the way, quite generous of them! Thank you Tabelog US! The only thing I’m not crazy about with Tabelog is that just as with Yelp, the content sits on their site.
We all know how I feel about giving a site my hard work. If they established a way to benefit my site, while benefiting theirs, I’d be 100% on board. For now I contribute content here and there, but I’m not married to them yet.
I’m still using the Urbanspoon “Spoonback” system, and like I said, the merger may end up being a good thing. I like to keep an open mind. Zomato is making a big push to grow, I also see they have a lot of jobs open by the way, if you are looking for work. For now, I’m sitting tight and waiting to see what Zomato does with us “Primes” and our content.
FYI, if you are a “Prime” user on Urbanspoon, we have a Facebook group.
Addendum: Since publishing this post, I noticed that the CEO of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal favorited it. This means that they are reading and possibly working with the users of Urbanspoon. Like I said, don’t write this merger off as a fail, we have yet to see what is to come.