Turnstyle, which is a company that offers WiFi-based marketing solutions, including loyalty programs, has been purchased by Yelp for a reported $20 million. While certainly not the biggest acquisition taking place, it is likely to give Yelp the ability to offer many improvements on their services to business customers.
The company allows businesses to provide guests free WiFi. This is a good perk that many customers will love. The company benefits by getting the email address of their customers, which customers are often happy to provide without even realizing they are potentially opting in to an email marketing list.
In addition, devices that are used on the WiFi network are stored in a database so further marketing can be done if/when that device returns to the retailer in the future. This is a great opportunity for loyalty programs, or to be able to improve the way employees service customers when they return.
While these types of programs are somewhat outside of Yelps main focus, they really help give them more direct interactions with businesses. They can begin offering marketing services to businesses, rather than just hoping that companies will come to them to try to bring in additional customers.
In the end, this is another step being taken by Yelp to become more of a full-service marketing company than just an online tool.