Last month, Google announced a new service that would integrate with their Places database, culling crowd-sourced ratings information, your own ratings information, and that of your friends for the purpose of recommending cool new Places for you to check out. It’s called Hotpot, and it just might trim down or even eliminate your annual percentage of culinary misadventures. Like a restaurant, give it five stars and a note. Hated it? One star. Great service but horrible food? Tell the world by tapping emoticons.
A key factor in making Hotpot reliable and useful on a daily basis in a wide variety of locations is, of course, inspiring businesses to participate by engaging them in marketing and claiming their Google Places page. Letting every day folks know the service is out there will help also.
Google has targeted hyper-green Portland, Oregon–my favorite city in the nation–for their initial assault and has begun handing out business kits and window decals to some top companies in the town. But any business that has claimed their Google Places page can order their own free sample kit, right here.
That image above is the “Recommended on Google” window sticker. Get used to the look of it, especially if you’re in PDX. This thing has a NFC (near field communications) device embedded in it, and scanning it with an NFC-capable gadget, like the Nexus S, will offer up a load of information on the place; no need to request a menu outside or ask the patrons if they’re enjoying the experience.
There’s more in the kit besides the sticker, and items can be ordered individually. A Places pen, customized bill cards, and even fortune cookies are available. So if you run a shop in Fareless Square or a pasta joint in The Pearl, or a killer Thai bistro in Hawthorne (there’s only one!) head on over to claim your Places page and order the kit!