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Tech roundup: OpenTable, Yelp respond to COVID surge with new features

The tools are intended to help restaurants communicate with guests about vaccine policies. Also, Gopuff adds restaurant items, Chowly links up with Google ordering and more.
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Photo illustration by Nico Heins

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Two restaurant tech mainstays launched new features intended to help restaurants communicate with guests about their COVID-19 policies.

The tools from OpenTable and Yelp are designed to get restaurants and diners on the same page as case counts rise and many restaurants change their safety guidelines once again.

OpenTable’s update consists of two parts:

Diners can use the direct messaging tool to ask about a restaurants’ latest COVID guidelines, or to communicate with the restaurant about things like dietary preferences or other things before or after their visit. More than 1,500 restaurants are using the feature, OpenTable said.

The reservations platform said it would soon publish a real-time list of U.S. restaurants requiring proof of vaccination.

OpenTable direct messagingOpenTable direct messaging / Image courtesy of OpenTable

Yelp introduced two new attributes that restaurants can add to their listings: “Proof of vaccination required” and “All staff fully vaccinated.” Users of the business listing site will be able to filter by those options while browsing.

The company said it would closely monitor pages with the new attributes “to help protect businesses that may experience backlash” amid a rise in negative reviews related to restaurants’ COVID safety measures. Yelp said it has removed nearly 4,500 reviews for violating its content policy since January.

Yelp new attributesRestaurants can now display vaccine guidelines on their Yelp pages. / Image courtesy of Yelp

Juice chain Pure Green will sell some products on Gopuff. The seven-unit QSR is partnering with the delivery provider to include a selection of its shelf-stable juices and wellness shots in Gopuff’s online store. It is part of a big growth push for New York-based Pure Green, which plans to open 30 new stores this year.

The news comes as Gopuff makes its first major foray into the restaurant industry with Gopuff Kitchen—a ghost kitchen operation through which the company will market, cook and deliver hot food. The Pure Green partnership shows how the fast-growing Gopuff could also be a potential sales channel for restaurants’ packaged retail items.

Chowly is enabling ordering via Google. The company that specializes in bringing restaurants’ various ordering streams into a single channel has added the search engine giant to its roster of integrations, meaning that its clients will be able to accept orders directly from their listing on Google Search or Maps. Restaurants will pay a 5% fulfillment fee plus a processing fee per Google transaction.

In announcing the news, Chowly shared a stat that illustrates the potential power of Google as an ordering channel. It said that people Google the phrase “Food near me” 8.6 billion times a month; the next food delivery-related search was “Domino’s” at 256 million.

Wisely is partnering with Sparkfly to beef up restaurant loyalty offers. The customer relationship manager that helps restaurants leverage guest data will integrate Sparkfly’s loyalty technology, allowing restaurants to first analyze guest behavior and then send marketing messages with relevant rewards and offers. Terms of the partnership were not disclosed. 

In case you missed it …

Kitchen United is opening ghost kitchens in grocery stores.

A new DoorDash feature allows customers to order from two businesses at once.

Quiznos is testing bitcoin payment.

Why drone delivery has to crawl before it can soar.

Are restaurant robots ready for prime time?

Lunchbox is buying an online restaurant marketplace.

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