You’re looking for an establishment in Vegas to throw your friend a bachelor/bachelorette party? “How many stars does it have?”
You want to take your significant other some where special to celebrate your first year anniversary. “How many stars does it have?”
You’re looking for a new workout spot, doctor’s office, or coffee shop in the neighborhood you just moved to. “How many stars does it have?”
“How many stars does it have?” has become a common question in the U.S. and it’s all due to a site called YELP. Yelp brings consumers and businesses together through reviews and ratings. Every day people go to establishments and then can share their experience under the establishments business page on Yelp by giving them an honest review and a star rating 1-5 (5 being the highest).
What a lot of people may not realize is what’s going on behind the scenes of this awesome website. There’s a group of Yelper’s that are “Yelp Elite” (Myself included… cue the South Park episode….LOL). There are also people who work in each city to help businesses get discovered, keep thriving, and to make sure the Yelp community is a safe and fun space for everyone. Our Chi@Glance September “A Chicagoan YOU should know” Spotlight feature is highlighting one of those individuals. I had a sit down with the Yelp Chicago Senior Community Director Alex Shebar.
So you’re probably wondering what does the role of a Yelp Senior Community Director entail? Basically Alex is in charge of the Chicago Yelp Community. He lets the masses know where the best spots are in the city to eat, drink, shop, and play. He’s also in charge with running some seriously epic events as a way to showcase these businesses and get people excited about what’s in their backyard.
I was sooooo curious about how one gets such an awesome job…so let me briefly go back and tell you how Alex landed this job of a lifetime. Out of college he worked as a reporter for the second biggest newspaper in Cincinnati Ohio called the Enquirer. He had thought journalism was his calling until he had to take a night position reporting homicides. Not exactly what he pictured himself doing and totally not what he wanted to do. Back then (which wasn’t too long ago) it was a transition era where newspapers hadn’t fully accepted the internet yet. Alex was way ahead of his time and wanted to dive into pre twitter journalism and the higher ups just weren’t there yet. He left that position and decided to venture into something new.
Alex LOVED Cincinnati and with his new found freedom and time he decided to give back to the city he loved. He created a year long project of streaming the 100 greatest films of all time for the public of Cincinnati. It started off in his friends living rooms and basements and expanded rapidly. Soon businesses asked Alex if he could organize movie screenings for them. Yelp (liking innovative thinkers) caught wind and asked Alex half way through his streaming project via twitter if he’d like to work for them. Alex said “YES” and the rest is history! He spent 2 years working for Yelp in Cincinnati, 5 years working abroad for Yelp in London, and since January 2017 he’s now manning Yelp Chicago.
Alex is a huge advocate of Yelp. He loves how it gives you a local experience whatever city you’re in. We’re inundated constantly with chains and Yelp helps you to discover mom and pop shops. Start up companies usually don’t have big marketing budgets and Yelp is a marketing tool to help newer companies thrive with honest reviews from people like me and you. Alex said there’s two big reasons why you should be writing yelp reviews:
- Community Experience – Your personal experience. Come to events, write reviews, and make new friends.
- Altruistic reason – Harvard business journal did a study (if a local place not Starbucks or McDonalds, but a mom and pop type spot) gets a good star rating up on yelp, there’s about a 10% increase in profits over the next year. So writing a review is the best thing you can do for a small business you LOVE. Good ratings actively keeps mom and pop shops in business. It only takes 30 seconds to write a good 5 line review.
Some times Yelp gets criticized from businesses that don’t get good reviews, but it’s also a teaching tool on what customers are looking for and ways to improve. For those that say some of the reviews are rigged, rest assure that Yelp has an automated system that activitely searches for reviews that are not authentic and those reviews will be moved to a “Non Recommended” category. No system is perfect, but Yelp does its best to make sure that the community is Honest.
“I LOVE Chicago and the Midwest. I am always trying to get people to explore this amazing city, try new things that they’ve never heard of before (some only minutes away from where they work or live). If I can show off one new local business you’ve never seen before that you now love, then I’ve done my job.”
Sounds great, right! I myself have been “yelping” for 4 years now and I’m a member of the Yelp Elite community. Yelp hosts a variety of FREE events from fitness, restaurants, make up classes, movie theater premieres, etc…, but YELP also hosts some pretty cool unique and extra special FREE events for the Yelp Elite community. (Yelp Elites are really active Yelp Members that write quality reviews and interact with the yelp community in a positive way. Yelp Elites are chosen by the San Francisco Yelp headquarters). What are you waiting for?!?! Check out www.yelp.com/chicago and get your first review going.
You know I couldn’t let Alex go before giving us some advice and naming a few of his favorite Chicago destinations! Check out our little game we played called “TOP 3.” Alex is giving us his top three suggestions for the categories below.
Top 3 Game – (Remember Alex has only been in the Chi for 7 months) 🙂
- Top 3 restaurants (no particular category) – Revival Food Hall, Seoul Taco, and Giant
- Top 3 rooftops – Noyane, Cabana Club, IO
- Top 3 cocktails – Violet Hour, Three Dots and a Dash, Lost Lake
- Top 3 work gathering spots – Whirly Ball, Pinot’s Palette, Shore Club on the beach
- Top 3 bars – Matchbox, Safehouse, Violet Hour
- Top 3 dessert spots – Black Dog Gelato, Goddess and the Baker, Doughnut Vault
- Top 3 romantic spots – Gejas, Oz Park, The Robey
Tavi J interview with Alex Shebar
What type of events are your favorite to throw?
Unique. What Makes you amazing…authentic. For example the “Paint and sip” event at Pinot’s Palette. They have a full bar and serve cocktails….not just wine. Or Sugar Hills Bakery they have 20 different flavors of cheesecake and we did a cheesecake flight event. Or Give Me Some Sugar – Have cupcake decorating, but I decided let’s do Candy!
Why do you like to throw events with no plus 1s?
Usually people will bring the same plus one every time. If no one gets a plus one you’re all in the same boat. Yelpers are really friendly and it helps to build a close knit community.
You’re really making a name for yourself with all the events, advertising on the WCIU and WGN. Can you let us in on what your next big Event will be?
Planning currently in the works for “Cocktail of Chicago” going down on October 11tth. We’re bringing together 10 bars that are all going to submit the same cocktail with their spin on it. The audience will vote on which one is their favorite. Which ever bar wins will have their cocktail featured at ALL the other bars and will be crowned “The CHICAGO COCKTAIL.” This event will be held at the beautiful Chicago Symphony. More details to come!
Last random question……..congrats on your VERY recent marriage/wedding in London. Can you leave us with one piece of marriage advice?
There was a comic that told a joke about 3 business men. 2 of the business men were going to the bar afterwork to hide from their wives..they asked the 3rd business man “Jim where you going?” He responded “I’m going home to my wife because I like spending time with her.” You shouldn’t get married because you feel like you have to or you’ve been dating for so long. You should be excited to go home to your significant other every day. When big news happens she should be the first person you want to tell. Be with the person you cannot stand being away from. Everything I do is better with my wife. Choose a person who consumes your life in a way that you never thought possible. Find and marry your best friend. 🙂
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