Google Hotpot is a new application that is designed to help Google users find local businesses and hotspots based on their own preferences and on the recommendations of their friends. The application is a location-based recommendation service similar in function to the service offered by companies such as Foursquare and Yelp. It lets users rate and review a local business directly from their Google profiles and tracks user reviews with a counter on top of each business profile. Google Hotpot tracks and remembers a user’s likes and dislikes and uses that information to serve up recommendations to the user.
Google Hotpot is an add-on application to the search-engine giant’s Places service. It takes the information that is already available on Places and lets users do more personalized and relevant searches for local businesses with the data. When Google users rate a local business that they like, the service automatically recommends other similar businesses in the vicinity that they are likely to have a positive experience in, as well. Importantly, the service lets Google users share their recommendations with friends and in turn lets them see the businesses that their friends have recommended. Google has included a rating application with Hotpot that lets users quickly rate all the places that they have been to and to choose the friends they want to share their recommendations with. Users of Google’s Android mobile phone technology can also rate places using Google’s Mobile maps on Android. Users who want to take advantage of Hotpot will need to sign in for the service and create a profile for themselves. Users have the ability to control what information of theirs others will be able to see.
As a location-based recommendation service, Google Hotpot can be invaluable to local businesses. Many local businesses rely on word-of-mouth communications to let others know about their business and to attract new customers to it. Google Hotpot offers such businesses a way to broadcast their presence to a much wider audience and to attract new customers based on the quality of their products and services. Comparable services such as Yelp and Foursquare already offer millions of customer reviews to help guide users to the best places within a local community to shop, dine or relax. Given Google’s enormous reach and popularity, it is only a matter of time before Google Hotpot emerges as a widely used local recommendation engine, which local businesses can leverage to build a solid reputation for themselves within their local communities.