Last month Google rolled out Hotpot, a new review and recommendation service that brings together user generated content and social features. Whereas other review sites simply allow users to post and read reviews, Hotpot learns what you like based on your personal tastes and preferences and helps you discover other places you might like. Tightly integrated with Google Maps, Hotpot will recommend new places to try once you have rated places and added friends.
Google Hotpot is almost game-like. It starts by showing you businesses by category that you go through and rate so it can begin to understand what you like. You give the business an overall star-rating and can then provide a ‘tip’ and more sub-ratings. When searching for a new business, you can go to Google Maps to see what your friends have to say. According to Google, “Your Google Maps search results will be prioritized according to your preferences. Then you’ll see explanations from friends, so you can find the right place for you.”
I have been fascinated with the time and effort people take to write hotel reviews as it’s in sharp contrast to the way many social networks are training us to think. For example, we are updating our facebook status with one or two sentences and tweeting in 140 charaters and less. If this service takes off and steals traffic from review sites and OTAs, I expect hoteliers will miss the depth of data they get from online reviews today. But only time will tell.