Google has added a “join waitlist” button to selected local restaurant profile pages. Canadian SEO Sergey Alakov spotted the new functionality, which is provided by DineTime. To participate, restaurants must have a DineTime account.
Join the waitlist. The placement of the button is in the same location as “reserve a table.” It’s not clear whether there will be two buttons, then, where waitlist functionality is also enabled.
Clicking on the join waitlist button opens a screen that identifies the current wait time and enables users to input their party size. That’s followed by a screen confirming the user’s contact info. Users receive a text updating them on their status. (Yelp offers similar waitlist functionality for its listed restaurants.)
As an aside, DineTime also has an Alexa skill. Booking is a capability and use case well-suited for virtual assistants and smart speakers.
Reserve with Google. Reserve with Google, which launched in 2016, allows users to book (and pay) for reservations without leaving Google’s UI. There’s a growing list of partners, and the program has global aspirations. Currently, outside the U.S. it’s only available in Canada.
Booking and payments are key to Google’s GMB engagement strategy for both consumers and local business owners. It may be more of a mixed blessing for booking providers, who gain distribution but essentially become resellers for Google.
Why you should care. It took well over a decade for online booking for SMBs to gain traction. There’s a hugely fragmented market of providers, mostly focused on specific verticals. Distribution has always been the main problem. However, Google, and to a lesser degree Facebook, are now consolidating the market and helping with distribution, which, in turn, helps providers with sales.
Over time, online reservations may become competitive table stakes for business owners.