Yelp claims 1.5 million transactions to date — will adding activities accelerate that number?News / Technology | OnlineBy Nick Vivion | March 27, 2015Share This article was originally published on Yelp is continuing its push to expand beyond its core restaurant review service and into a fully bookable small business platform. The latest announcement brings the Yelp Platform into tours and activities as it seeks to further monetize its user base and bolster its earnings for Wall Street.The Platform was launched in July 2013, in a bid to offer on-site transactions. The push went category-by-category, first allowing Yelp users to order food and delivery. This expansion continues, as the company announced its new moves this week via a blog post claiming a total of 1.5 million transactions to date on the nascent Yelp Platform.According to Yelp's own stats, the site had 135 million uniques in Q4 2014, which means that the true conversion rate of users-to-transactions since summer 2013 is more than miniscule. There clearly is a lot of work remaining to increase more visitors into customers, and is driving purchases such as that of food delivery partner Eat24 earlier this year.Another way to close more transactions is to offer more selection. The expansion into new categories will encourage Yelpers to transact as they find more services of interest. These categories are: tours and activites, golf, florists, spa treatments, and VIP bottle service (yep, VIP bottle service on Yelp!)The advantage being, of course, that users can consult Yelp reviews right there within the platform before deciding to purchase. This also reinforces the imperative for small business owners to be involved with the platform.Here's how the mobile bookings look:The Yelp approach has been a traditional "test before you buy" strategy: partner first and then purchase later if the traction merits a more comprehensive integration. The latest additions to the Yelp platform come courtesy of Vimbly, GolfNow, BloomNation, Vagaro and TableList.Tours and activities is finally getting its due with brands beginning to bring the category into the fold for seamless booking. Most recently, TripAdvisor acquired Viator and has now begun to on board its T&A inventory onto the TripAdvisor website as part of the ongoing strategy of moving beyond meta and into a direct, bookable offering.Back on the Yelp side of things, the company is clearly eager to partner further in a bid to become a one-stop-shop for all things small business. The announcement concludes with a call to action to both use a partner to launch a small business and consider how an existing service might function within Yelp: But why stop there? Spring is for the new and adventurous. Maybe this is the year you heed that little voice in your head and take the plunge... by becoming a great local business owner yourself! Whether you’re a baker or a violin instructor, book a free consultation with one of thousands of lawyers and learn how to get started the right way, courtesy of Platform partner LegalZoom.We’ve got a lot more on the way, but don’t be a stranger; there’s a season for everyone! If you’re a developer with a service the Yelp community would love, please check out yelp.com/developers or reach out to us at [email protected]Share this quote Eyes on Yelp to see if it does, indeed, manage to become the nexus for small business access that it strives to be.NB: Yelp image courtesy Shutterstock.NB2: Author also owns a restaurant, which is present on Yelp (but not a customer of Yelp).