November 16, 2020 - Issabelle Frial will soon mark her four-year “Yelpiversary”, serving as the go-to-gal for all things community in Vancouver. She was born to Filipino parents and grew up in the U.S. and Canada.

(Editors’ note: Founded in San Francisco in 2004, Yelp is an online directory of local businesses. These include everything from bars to restaurants, spas, and the like. It allows users to post reviews.)

Frial sat down to share some learnings from all that’s happened so far in 2020, and how she’s more dedicated than ever to supporting the company’s mission of connecting people with great local businesses as Yelp Vancouver community manager.

Why do you love being part of the Yelp team?

Do I sound biased if I say, “everything”? Really though, for me, it’s been inspiring seeing how Yelp stays true to its values. This was most evident over the last few months, seeing the support our leadership team provided during the initial COVID outbreak that affected North America this spring and the Black Lives Matter movement. Also, the people I’ve made some of my forever friends through this company and I couldn’t be more grateful!

Of all the core Yelp values, which one do you embody the most?

I’d have to say it’s “Plays Well With Others”. I think if you asked any single one of my friends, family, and colleagues they’d likely all describe me as “that upbeat and positive person who can befriend anyone in any situation”.  On the Myers-Briggs test, I am the most extroverted one can be on the continuum. What can I say? I’m a people person, through and through. I love that this is one of Yelp’s values because being respectful and kind to everyone is extremely important. You never know what people are going through and I’m a big believer that a smile, hug, and compliment can go a very long way!

Wait, there’s Yelp in Canada? Tell us more.

Heck yes, Yelp is in Canada! We currently have Community Managers in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. Plus, we have two part-time Community Ambassadors in Canada: One was recently hired in Ottawa and our team is hiring another Ambassador in Edmonton. We also have a Yelp office in Toronto where some of our Yelp Restaurants team is based. We’re a small, but mighty crew (we unofficially call ourselves “Team Canada”), doing our best to shine light on and support all the incredible local businesses Canada has to offer.

What is a typical day like for you in the CM role (during COVID)?

The CM role has changed dramatically during COVID. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is our support for local businesses. Oh, and the fact that we still get to work from home. Previously, our days were a mixture of running around town from one meeting to another, organizing a variety of both small and large in-person events, working out of coffee shops, connecting with local business owners and event organizers, answering an abundance of emails, and always being on-the-go.

Nowadays, like many others, the CM job has shifted to mostly virtual. While we’re not running around town anymore or throwing in-person events, we have taken our events virtual. Virtual cooking classes, virtual fitness classes, virtual magic shows, you name it, we’re doing it! One of the silver linings of virtual events is that we can attend any event around North America. If you’re interested, check out the North American calendar of events here.

A typical workday for me during quarantine includes drinking an absurd amount of coffee, chatting on the phone or over Zoom with local business owners, planning virtual events months in advance, curating social media content to highlight local businesses, writing community newsletters, engaging with the local Yelp Elite Squad online, and of course, still answering an abundance of emails.

What are some common misconceptions about being a Community Manager at Yelp?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this question: “Oh, you work for Yelp! So that means you must eat for free all the time?”, I’d be a very rich woman. Unfortunately, no, this isn’t the case! Another misconception is that all we get to do is plan and attend glamorous events. Alright, this isn’t such a big misconception — anyone who is in the event planning arena knows that the months of organization and planning is anything but glamorous!

Current favorite local businesses?

Oh my goodness, this is like asking who your favorite child is! My list always changes weekly, so I’ll have to shout out my latest obsessions of the week:

The Red Accordion: In my opinion, they serve up the best old fashioneds in Vancouver, as well as a mean charcuterie board. Plus their whole ambiance makes you feel like you’re hanging out at your best friend’s house.

Afghan Kitchen in South Surrey: I’ve had Afghan Kitchen numerous times over the last few weeks. This family-owned restaurant has won numerous awards and for good reason — their food is delicious!

Akari Sushi: I couldn’t call myself a proper Vancouverite if I didn’t have a sushi restaurant listed here. Akari has definitely been my go to during quarantine. This spot is a bit out of the way, but it’s worth the drive! Bonus: their sushi rolls are massive.

Follow Issabelle Frial adventures on Yelp and on social media! And if you are interested in applying to be a Yelp Community Manager, check out the open positions on the Yelp careers page.

(Abby Schwarz is regional lead for Yelp. This article was first published on the Yelp blog on October 15, 2020.)


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