Yelp just debuted a new “Wordmaps” feature and it’s really, really cool! Basically it’s a heat map of how often certain key terms (think “tourist”, “hipster”, “view”) appear in Yelp reviews. It’s similar to the “Neighborhood Filters” feature that Hipmunk has, but Yelp can go much, much deeper due to the ~39 million reviews they have to mine.
The release is pretty limited right now, and only highlights specific filters in a short list of cities. However, it’s already pretty interesting (and stereotype-confirming) to see how things look. Here’s a visual depiction of “tourist” in New York:
That big red blob in Midtown serves as a pretty good warning to STAY AWAY
So what does this mean for hotel bookings? In the short term, probably not a whole lot – as I mentioned above, the capabilities are pretty limited right now (both as far as terms and cities are concerned). You can certainly look at a city like New York, and the Wordmap will help you avoid places that are hotbeds for “tourist” or “hipster” (or seek those out, if that’s what you’re interested in!), but there’s not much more to it than that. However, assuming Yelp plans to expand this offering (and I really hope they do), imagine searching for a hotel and being able to filter by keyword. You could say find hotels NEAR “view”, “kid-friendly”, “cheap” and AVOID “sketchy”, “hipster”, “frat”, and it would filter your results accordingly.
I haven’t found Yelp to be particularly useful for hotel searches, but they’re a really helpful resource for restaurant reviews. If you’re like me, the hotel itself is only a part of the equation when planning a trip – I also want to know what kind of neighborhood it’s in, and what kind of food options there are nearby. Yelp’s Wordmaps are the best resource I’ve seen so far to provide this information in a highly-specific and visually-compelling way. If they can harness the potential of this information, I could see them making a big push into becoming a go-to resource for picking hotels and planning vacations – giving TripAdvisor a serious run for their money.
You can check out Wordmaps and play around with it yourself here.
What do you think? If Yelp took this tool to the next level, would it be something you would use in trying to plan a trip?
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