- Google Maps is testing a new feature that shows users images of the most popular meals in a restaurant, according to a 9to5 Google report.
- The images come from the crowdsourcing of images and texts that diners take when they visit the restaurant. Users can suggest edits if they see a difference between the photo and the actual meal.
- The app already features nearby restaurants and their menu offerings.
Adding photos uploaded by reviewers makes Google Maps restaurant review listings more competitive with Yelp, but may have a mixed impact on restaurants. Businesses can’t control what users post, including whether the photo looks appetizing or whether the customer has referred to the dish by the correct name.
Some 68% of millennials trust reviews online which makes it a high stakes game for restaurants, especially since positive reviews can increase sales by up to 18%.
Google Maps’ new photo aggregation service may be one way to solve some of the confusion that comes with ad hoc online restaurant reviews. It also level the playing field for restaurant marketing. Retailers who can’t afford costly, targeted marketing campaigns will have a much better chance of competing with other restaurants based on crowdsourced images and reviews.
Last year, Google added stars for bars and restaurants to its map feature and reportedly got reviews faster than its competitors, including Yelp, TripAdvisor and others. One downside that some were quick to point out is that Google is less judicious in the reviews it aggregates compared to Yelp, which takes time to weed out fake reviews. This could unfairly penalize certain restaurants while inadvertently raising an unworthy restaurant.
Yelp is also working quickly to roll out new features, announcing more recently that it will begin collecting information on the environmental footprint of restaurants. Consumers can now report whether restaurants have green measures in place, such as no plastic straws, no plastic utensils, no plastic bags, discounts on reusable cups and compostable containers. The information will be available to users within approximately one year.
Late last year, TripAdvisor partnered with DoorDash to offer a direct ordering link in its app in 1,800 cities across North America. The partnership brings online ordering to more than 24,000 restaurant listings on the travel site that previously lacked ordering links. It’s unclear where Google will be if it pushes this feature beyond testing, but other innovations are likely to move out of the review space as it becomes more competitive and crucial to the success of businesses. restaurants.