In early March, Google rolled out Check In offers as a feature for Latitude in Austin. In April the feature was additionally made available to national retailers like Radio Shack and Quiznos.
The feature was not made generally accessible to most retailers. At the time I inquired of Google when it would be available more widely and if it was free or paid. Google provided their all to frequent “We’ll let you know if and when we have more details to share” response.
Well I managed to uncover some additional Mobile Check-Ins details in this recent Google Places Help Page:
Coupons: Mobile Check-in Offers
When users for businesses using Google for mobile devices, they’ll be able to access your Google Places Offer on their phone. You can also offer special deals to visitors if they check in online when they visit your business. Instead of printing out a paper coupon, customers can simply bring in their mobile device to redeem the offer — which means it’s a great and simple way to save trees, too!
Create a Mobile Check-in Offer
All Google Places offers are created in both mobile and desktop formats, so all you have to do is create an offer. If you’d like to offer a check-in option, simply select the appropriate type of customer in the “Target customers” field when you create the offer.
If you don’t want to distribute your offers via mobile phones, you can turn off the mobile feature by following the instructions below:
- Click Offers at the top of your Google Places account.
- Click Edit next to the offer on the dashboard to edit an existing offer.
- Deactivate the mobile phone format by un-checking the mobile coupon box.
Google Places Search on the iPhone and Android now offers an option to show only business that are open. The feature is available in Places search and filters out not just restaurants that are closed but restaurants for which Google is not confident of their hours. I performed the following search yesterday afternoon for Restaurant Spokane:
Only Open Places option selected:
It is not totally obvious from the screen shot but the ranking was significantly altered when the top two Places listing completely disappeared. Not because they were actually closed but because the listings were not claimed and Google had been unable to find their hours elsewhere on the net.
Bing recently noted while presenting at the GetListed Portland seminar that 50% of all restaurant queries are now originating on mobile phones. If that fact and this feature is not enough to motivate business owners to claim their listing and populate it with accurate information, I am not sure what is.
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