In 2016, I became a member of the Yelp Elite Squad and I've been hooked ever since. If you don't know what Yelp Elite is, you have to be at least 21, write lots of reviews on Yelp, and want to try some new things.
There are a few more rules, but the gist is you get to try a bunch of new things with a bunch of great people. In my three years as an Elite, I have found these are the best reasons to get nominated and join the squad!
You get to represent with Yelp Swag.
At most Yelp events, the Community Manager, who basically coordinates all of the entertaining activities and events, will bring and decorate with Yelp swag. It's free and it comes with some pretty fun things. Need a water bottle? I got you. Crying and need a tissue? I have Yelp ones! Need a pen? I've got five! Yelp swag is excellent and unique and I've even gotten treats (that are funny and sometimes practical) swag like shot glasses or flasks.
You meet the best people in the world!
Straight of the 90's!
My community manager, Gretchen, is one of the nicest and most pleasant people to be around. I remember being so shy and confused at what to do at my first event, but she explained everything and made me feel so welcome. I've met some wonderful people I continue to stay friends with and get to see at events because of the Elite squad.
You don't feel judged for taking photos.
They don't call me "Pickles" for nothing!
A study done by the University of San Diego found that people who photograph their food enjoy it more than those who don't. I have some pretty staunch believers as friends who think me spending the time to get the perfect shot is stupid. But when you are surrounded by people who love taking photos as much as you do (it's a fundamental part of yelping), then you don't feel like a fish out of water. Everyone loves food as much as you do!
You get to try new experiences.
We broke out!
With Yelp Elite events, you get to try new experiences for free. I had never been to a breakout room before but got the opportunity to try one because of an event!
At another event, I got a mini back massage from a spa. At another, I got to go to my first sip and paint event. At the Yelp holiday party two years ago, I met Redskins Cheerleaders and held a Lombardi trophy because it was held at a Redskins-themed restaurant. There are tons of new places and experiences to do that I wouldn't have gotten to do without Yelp!
It broadens your taste in food.
Soup-er good soup dumplings.
I wouldn't call myself a picky eater, because I will pretty much try everything at least once just to say I tried it, but ever since I started yelping, I have found so many good restaurants and dishes because of recommendations from my fellow Elites.
People who truly love food, love giving recommendations about food. That's just a fact. Since becoming Elite, I have a new arsenal of go to restaurants I would have never found without shining recommendations.
You get free food and drinks!
Get. In. My. Stomach.
Some of the best Elite events are ones where you get to try out a bunch of different foods! A lot of restaurants like to try new menu items on Elites because we give good feedback. We have even gone to restaurants for events before they officially opened.
My favorite Yelp event ever was held at a tea and macaron restaurant that was having their soft opening. Since their signature macaron was the unicorn, I came dressed in my unicorn jumpsuit! This is a great way to try your new favorite food or find a restaurant you've never been to before like Bonefish Grill (pictured above) which I discovered was delish all because of Yelp!
It encourages you to exercise. (yes, really)
Feelin the burn
Some Elite events are held at different gyms. This is an entertaining way to try out different types of workouts and get a free class at a place you have always wanted to try. I did a workout at Orangetheory (pictured above) and thought I was going to die, but because of the clipped on heart monitor, it showed how I was burning mad calories during the workout.
Another time, I got to try a barre class, which I've been dying to try but nervous to do by myself. With the Elite squad, we are all trying stuff together.
We have fun.
sippin and paintin.
Fact: I have never left a Yelp event sad. I couldn't possibly be. I found Yelp when I was back at home, going to school part-time and working full-time. Most of my friends were still away at school so I was kind of lonely. Yelp gave me a way to make new friends and branch out into the massive Northern Virginia community and meet people.
Every event I go to, I get to meet new people, try delicious food, and just be surrounded by so much positivity and pure joy. It doesn't get much better than that.
It helps with your writing skills.
Being on the Odyssey staff, I'm constantly improving my writing skills. With Yelp, you have to learn how to be a good writer if you join the Elite Squad. Because you're Elite, your reviews automatically go to the top of a company's page so yours get read first.
I am constantly learning how to write better because of Yelp. I tend to speak and type hyperbolically (shocking, I know), so with my reviews, I try and write more straightforward. Writing about your experiences really helps you learn how to describe things well without going overboard.
You feel like you're part of a community.
This bed was $10,000. Seriously.
Northern Virginia is a sprawling metropolis that's close enough to the city that I don't feel like a country girl but I'm definitely not living in a city. Because I'm not living in a city, I realize the suburban life is a distant one. While things are close distance-wise, Northern Virginia is massive.
Finding a group and people you enjoy being around can be tough, I was there at one point. With the Elite squad, I'm a part of something and I feel like I get to know people who could technically be my neighbors.
From sipping mimosas on a 10,000 dollar mattress in mermaid pajamas to doing so many squats I thought my legs were going to fall off, being a Yelp Elite is never boring. I meet new people, try new food, and get cool things and experiences out of being a part of this group. If you have a local Elite Squad, I highly encourage you to check it out so you can join in on the fun!