Residents on Yelp’s Elite Squad Get Treated with Super Special Events

yelp-elite

By: Sharon Aron Baron

While we all have seen restaurant reviews online from Yelp, several South Florida residents numerous and thorough business reviews on that site have put them in Elite Status, opening the doors to exclusive parties and private events.

Jeanne and Gary Megel of Tamarac, Florida were members of Yelp for a few years, but like most of us, had never unlocked the full potential of the site.

“We never went out, everything was too expensive.  Our social life was totally in the dumper and contact outside our house was limited to a few neighbors on an infrequent basis,” said Jeanne.

However when Gary told Jeanne that Yelp had events for people that write reviews, it was then that Jeanne became interested in contributing reviews for the site. Soon their social life took a turn for the better.

Their first event was at the Bakehouse in Miami where they had full access to the art exhibits inside or could go outside for “bites and sips.”  Bites and sips turned out to be dozens of food and alcohol vendors of all kinds.  Everywhere they turned was something tasty to eat or drink.  The good news was that everything was free.

Jeanne and Gary along with their daughter Katie who is also part of Yelp's Elite Squad

Jeanne and Gary along with their daughter Katie who is also part of Yelp’s Elite Squad

They also received “swag” at the event.  The items ranged from t-shirts to keychains.  There were also contests for bigger prizes, like electronics.  

“The whole evening was amazing and we even met a few new people,” said Jeanne.

After that, they started writing more reviews and even posted photos.  They did “check-ins,” at the various businesses they visited to start building up their credibility as serious Yelpers.  

They also kept an eye on their Yelp accounts to check for any new events in the area.

After six months, they were accepted as part of Yelp’s Elite Squad, which opened up even more events for the smaller group of Yelpers who have shown a high level of dedication.

Yelp looks for three important criteria for members of their Elite Squad.  First, members have to use their real names and photo, and write honest, unbiased opinions about businesses.  Second they have to contribute not only reviews about the local experience, but they need to share happenings on the events tab, create lists, and use the mobile app to write meaningful tips, upload photos and check-ins.

Third, they need to connect with other Yelpers by voting on reviews, welcome new members, and send compliments on their favorite reviews.  Elite members are nominated by other members and they only hold their status for one calendar year.  

The Broward-Palm Beach Elite Squad has its own Community Manager named Blue Arauz.  Before this, the Megel’s attended events mostly held in Miami.  Now they get out even closer to their home and she said that because of his leadership, events are appearing more frequently.  

The community manager also has drawings for concerts where they won four free tickets to KC and the Sunshine band.  Last year, Jeanne and her daughter Katie, who is also an Elite Member, won tickets to the Boca Burger Battle as well as won four tickets to help build the worlds largest ice cream sundae in West Palm Beach.

Dan Cook of Coral Springs who is currently on Yelp’s Elite Squad, has 311 friends and has written 342 reviews. “The Yelp Events are fantastic. Where else can you go and have a business treat you like a VIP without forking over any dough,” he said.  “On top of that, you meet some great people who basically share the same passion for food and drink.”

Dan’s favorite event was a Marlins baseball game where he got a behind-the-scenes tour of the new ball park and sampled different drinks and food.  “They had so much food it was crazy,” he said. The event was organized by the Miami Yelp Community Manager Johnny T. as well as the Marlins organization and was held in a private section in the upper area of the first base line.

The Megel’s also had the opportunity to go to places that they have never been before, and they will likely go visit again. For example, one evening they had a full steak dinner at Longhorn, and last week, they had a four-course dinner at The Melting Pot. Typically, everything is free at the events except for gratuities for the waitstaff. Jeanne said they attended events like painting their own acrylic artwork on canvas, as well as getting line dancing lessons.  She said that some events are big, some are small, but they both agree that all are fun.

To add fuel to the frenzy, Jeanne said that there are UYEs, or Unofficial Yelp Events.  These are get-togethers put together by Yelpers that aren’t sponsored, so any fees for the event are paid as usual. There are also events like the “Dysfunctional Family Picnic,” which is a huge potluck party in a central location.  

“There was more food than it was possible to eat, including a grill dedicated to roasting an entire lamb.”

Last year, Jeanne and Gary set up an unofficial event at their home as well as holding a Fourth of July barbecue with some of their friends on Yelp. 

“To say that this has changed my life, is a significant understatement,” said Jeanne.  “I had become almost reclusive in my lifestyle.  Now, we’re seeing other Yelpers on a frequent basis outside of the events.  I’ve made more friends in the past year than I’ve ever had, even after living 57 years in the same city.”

Interested in joining Yelp?  Go to Yelp.com or download the app for your phone.  

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

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  • C. Rivera

    Perhaps a true ‘non-bias’ review organization shouldn’t accept anything that can be considered as a gratuity. (just sayin’)

  • martinw392

    Isn’t this just pay us and we will give you web content and positive reviews? isn’t this what yelp advocates against? Hypocrites.

  • Blue A

    I’m Blue, the Yelp BPB Community Manager. Just to chime in on the comments left here, I’d like to clarify some things. Yelp Elites are invited to experience new and interesting businesses in our community. They do not write reviews of the participating businesses based on their experiences at Yelp Elite events. The idea is that they get to discover new businesses through the events and then return on their own dime for an organic consumer experience which they can then review. Thanks for reading the article – and thanks to Coral Springs Talk for featuring Yelp!

  • Dan I

    Well well well…Blue. Here I am. After you lecture me on the Yelp threads and I provide a response to YOU, It gets deleted. The censorship on Yelp is getting out of hand. Who is Yelp listening too Jeanne and her merry band of conservative Yelpers? You start siding with a no pic 23 review Yelper who joined two years ago over me? The guy who helped spearhead the start of the Broward Palm Beach. I bet you get tired of me saying that don’t you? Well tough. Because I did you didn’t. You just got hired for Yelp to work the area. Make no mistake, I am VERY upset about this. I helped create which is starting to become a monster and it’s eating me.

    @Jeanne, you aren’t Yelp. You are a person who can’t afford to go out to the places to eat that Yelp provides you access too. You said it yourself. You get to eat and drink for free. What I didn’t mention in this article is I’ve only gone to 2 Elites Events in six years. I’m a gold Elite. How many you been too? All of them…LOL. How many of those places have you gone back to to promote their business after you ate and drank for free……I guess it’s NONE! Also you make so called friends on Yelp because you didn’t have any in real life before you joined Yelp. I was born in Broward General and lived here ALL my life. I have many real friends and went many businesses spent my money before Yelp was born. You talk about my ego huh. What about you running your mouth about me on Facebook and behind my back. You can’t hold a candle to me or my reviews. First off your bank account would be sucked dry if you spent one month eating, drinking, and traveling to the places I go too. Are you the future of BPB Yelp? LOL. What a joke! So be a good Yelper and run to Blue and Yelp complain about me, you baby. By the way, I’m stepping away from Yelp because of you and Yelpers like you. Great job Jeanne. “Mission Accomplished” or is it? LOL.