Google has once again improved the live search results returned for businesses. Last year Google added the ability to do real time crowd tracking. This allowed you to see how busy a place was right now when compared to historical trends. Additionally, they added the average amount of time people spent at that location. Now, Google has added a new feature specifically for sit down restaurants and eventually grocery stores.
Last week Google started showing an estimated wait time for “nearly a million” sit down restaurants. The new wait times will now show up in search results along side the live and historical crowd size. Google collects the data for this new feature by using anonymized data submitted by users who opt into the Google Location History service.
Quang Duong, Software Engineer on Google Maps, said “Wait time estimates are based on anonymized historical data, similar to how we compute the previously launched Popular Times and Visit Duration features.” Duong went on to say this new feature aims to help you plan ahead and beat the crowd.
According to Google documentation, “The displayed wait time is based on patterns of customer visits over the last several weeks. Wait time estimation differs for different business types.” Currently this means showing wait times for service at restaurants. Future expansion will include showing how long the line is to checkout at grocery stores.
The new wait times in search are great at giving you an idea of what you would experience before you head out. However, having multiple tools in your toolbox is always a good idea. Apps like Nowait, OpenTable, and Yelp allow for real time reservations or jumping in line before you leave.
If your arrival time is flexible then using this data can help you better plan your trip. Otherwise, you will still need to use other apps in order to help you save time by not waiting in lines.