While initial versions of Hotpot were released in mid-November, Google’s heir to Places is only now starting to see a ramp up in popularity. It’s unsurprising, since we have reached both the phase where users have experienced and explored the Hotpot features, and where Google has launched additional marketing campaigns. But how, exactly, is Hotpot different from Google Places?
As reported by Mashable at the early release stage of Hotpot, the primary updates are in how information is presented, how reviews are collected, the Hotpot “recommendation” feature, and the social aspect of the site.
The interface of the site itself is much more visually-oriented, with the location map playing only a minor feature and the business details coming in second to images of local businesses.
While Google places and Maps both allowed users to rate and review local businesses, the majority of the information came in through review feeds from major review websites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, PriceLine, etc.). Google has certainly not indicated that they’re halting the import of reviews, but they’re definitely pushing to make this Google site itself a more popular place to go when writing reviews. It encourages users to write reviews by the recommendation feature and social aspects of the site, as well as by tracking your number of reviews directly in the interface.
The “recommendation” feature of Hotpot allows users to get improved feedback from Google based on what businesses have already been well (or poorly) rated. The more businesses reviewed, the better the recommendations, Google claims. Additionally, since Hotpot is attached to your Google ID, you can expect these improved results to show up in Maps, standard search, and mobile searches as well.
And finally, the social features of the site allow you to send recommendations to friends, see their reviews, and compete on the Hotpot leader boards to see who can review the most local businesses.