The New Google Calendar Appointment Slots

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.

Google Calendar Appointment Slots 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.

Google Place Pages Sporting New Navigation Features

Yam Regev has pointed out several new navigation capabilities on a business’s Place page that allows users to more easily move through a list of Places returned from a Google Maps search result. The feature is only visible when a Place Page has been accessed via the list view resulting from a Map search and is currently not visible if a Places page is accessed from the main search results page or via Places search. The feature is visible in both UK and the US and possibly more widely.

It is not clear if it is a test or permanent or will be rolled out beyond the Map results view (click to view larger):

More Details On Google Places Hotel Booking Feature

Details about Google Places Hotel booking feature, first widely seen in November, are starting to leak out. Google has been somewhat reticent to make meaningful public comments and provide significant details about it. This Places feature allows users to select a booking date, click through from the Places Page and immediately begin the booking process.

It was reported yesterday at, in an apparent press release, that Worldhotels was now offering the Google feature to its affiliate hotels:

Independent hotels can now post information including room rates on Google Maps and Google Places using Worldhotels.

The hotel group is the first of its kind to allow independent hotels to display their real time rates and availability on Google Maps and Places.

This pay-per-click ad model is connected with the groups booking engine. The first hotel to test the new pricing display option is the Worldhotels property Georgian Terrace in Atlanta, USA.

Worldhotels is a company that provides a marketing umbrella that allows independent hotels to maintain their uniqueness but take advantage of back room processes that benefit from scale like booking, rewards programs, negotiating better rates with online booking companies and now obviously, access to Google’s Pay Per Click hotel booking test.

Rather than give up between 25 and 50% of their booking fees to the online travel sites, independent hotels can join a group like Worldhotel for a very small percentage of each booking while additionally taking advantage of other programs like frequent visitor benefits that the affiliate organizer has to offer.

In the case of Google Places, the hotel noted in the press release, is offering a Petite Single Room for their discounted rate of $116 (the same room is $199 through their site) which is exactly the same as the Expedia/Travelocity price. The cost to the hotel is likely the 2% affiliate booking fee plus their AdWords cost vs the 15-25% that they would normally be paying to the online travel site. Thus they could be paying somewhere on the order of $4.50 for the booking versus $31 via the current system. This model, while still in its infancy, is likely to put pressure on the margins of the online travel booking sites.

Google has noted that they are also “exploring ways to allow individual hoteliers to easily share updated pricing / availability” which would mean that even hotels not in a franchise or otherwise affiliated would likewise be able to take advantage of the savings in such a system.

It will be interesting to discover how Google is pricing the pay per click ads in this model. What are the current costs of PPC for hotels in major markets?

Related posts:

  1. Google Places Hotel Booking Feature To Be Available to All …. Someday
  2. Google Places Upgrade: Reviews with Sentiments & Hotel Booking Tool
  3. What is The Real Reason that TripAdvisor Is Limiting Review Content To Places?