Places and similar products have slowly been moving towards becoming a transaction environment. Last November Google rolled out, on a limited basis, a hotel booking feature. In December, Bing introduced a restaurant reservation system on their Place page equivalent. This spring when Google added rich snippet events to the Places page, they integrated the ability to easily add those events to a user’s personal calendar.
On Monday Google rolled out appointment slots for Calendars. This feature allows you to not only publicly make your appointment slots visible to the others to see but also allows other Google Calendar users to book a segment of your time. BusinessInsider pointed out that the feature will very likely be a big hit with students looking to schedule a meeting with a teacher.
But as reader @brazil_83 pointed out to me that is likely just the beginning. He noted that it “seems like Google [is] getting close to providing scheduling for more complex activ: spa, golf, restos – anything social”.
Clearly this appointment slot feature is a critical piece of infrastructure. When viewed in light of the Places hotel bookings and the event/G calendar integration features, this puts Google one fairly short step away from adding an appointment feature on your Places page for a whole raft of business related activities from massages to scheduling your dish washer repair.
Every time a consumer touches a Place page is an opportunity for Google to insert themselves in the local sales process. This new capability, when (if?) added to Places, is one that arguably could remove friction in the local buying process, increase Google’s supply of local (time) inventory information and provide a perfect nexus for additional revenue for Google.