It isn’t usually a compliment to be called yappy — let alone a yapper — but Teresa Lin is out to change all that. The founder of Yap Hong Kong created her own online user review directory after moving to Hong Kong from the United States, where she used to rely on friends’ opinions and those on internet platforms for honest and candid reviews.
“When I came out here, I didn’t find a platform that was covering multiple categories in a user-friendly way,” she explained at Duddell’s, where Yap Hong Kong will be celebrating its launch party this Wednesday. Sure, there was OpenRice, which covered food and restaurants, but no other platform offered user reviews on bars, clubs, shops or spas.
“It just got to a point where I decided to start my own platform,” said Lin, who has a background in entertainment marketing and digital branding. One of the first things she did was come up with a name for it.
“There tend to be a lot of copycats in China and Hong Kong, so my friends and I came up with ‘Yap’ because it sounded funny and quite similar to ‘Yelp’ [the North American equivalent]”, she explained.
“We were playing around with that name and it just kind of stuck. It also spoke to the personality of the brand, which is social, talkative, open and honest.”
Since soft launching about two months ago, Yap Hong Kong has grown to include 30,000 listings (of which two thirds are restaurants) and 1,200 reviews. The site has also attracted a solid group of ‘Yappers’ — people like Grubby Stuff, ROC and Monzilla who have already racked up a substantial amount of reviews.
Those who have the most reviews at any given moment are deemed ‘Pro Yappers’, which gives them not only “bragging rights” but the chance to meet each other in person at exclusive invite-only events. As the company grows, more (attractive, we hope) incentives will be offered in exchange for reviews.
For now, Yappers seem more than happy to document their every meal, spa treatment and night out on the town for nothing at all (save the exposure, of course). Some of them are bloggers while others are normal people, but one thing’s for sure — all of them have an opinion to share, and now, a platform to do it on.
Lin, who’s lived in Hong Kong for three years, says she’s still discovering new spots in town thanks to Yap Hong Kong, including Odd One Out, a cafe/art gallery in Wanchai and Mian, a homey noodle joint in Quarry Bay.
The site also welcomes reviews on doctors, dentists and schools in addition to your usual lifestyle categories (restaurants, bars, clubs, shops and spas), so now you know where to send your complaints to.
“We don’t exclude anyone — we even have strip clubs on the site!” laughed Lin. So, does this mean that we’ll soon be able to review bartenders, taxi drivers and cashiers too? And while we’re at it, why not throw in some reviews of Hong Kong’s weather, elevators and pedestrians too.
We kid, we kid. With the success of Yelp overseas, there’s no reason why Yap Hong Kong won’t fare just as well — as long as Yappers give useful reviews, and don’t just, well, yap.
(Originally published on LifestyleAsia.com)