Google Simplifies Online Booking Adoption through GMB

There’s often considerable friction involved in getting SMBs to adopt new technologies — even if they want them in theory. One such example is online booking.

Online booking and scheduling have been around in one form or another for about a decade and struggled to reach critical mass. This despite consumer demand and the many rational arguments in favor of adopting it. Restaurants is a counterpoint to that claim, but it’s just one category.

There’s considerable inertia for many businesses around “business as usual.” Lost sales — or bookings in this case — may also not be entirely visible to to business owners.

How many additional leads/appointments might have been captured; how might loyalty have been strengthened had a booking button been available? How do you know when you’ve lost a customer? No one has really made clear to SMBs the “opportunity cost” of not adopting new technology in many cases.

Online booking providers via GMB

Google is now helping SMBs adopt online booking through Google My Business (GMB). Google describes the relatively simple process:

  1. Sign up: First, log in to Google My Business. If you have an account with one of our supported scheduling providers, your booking button has been automatically added to your Google listing . . . If you don’t have an account with a supported provider, you’ll see a button on the main screen asking you to sign up.
  2. Choose your booking provider: Enroll with a scheduling provider from our list. Once you’ve enrolled, your account will be eligible to accept bookings through Google.

Any online bookings coming through Google will be reported in GMB analytics. The importance of this (tracking conversions) is not to be underestimated.

This doesn’t address any challenges around syncing booking inventory with the scheduling provider. But it will undoubtedly streamline and accelerate adoption of booking buttons because of GMB’s massive reach. The danger for these booking companies is that they simply become providers of a “commodity” service; they’ll have to differentiate with additional services or simplicity or on price.

It almost goes without saying that as Google adds more features such as booking buttons to Knowledge Panels and GMB profiles it strengthens its competitive position and “destination” status. Finally, most of consumer engagement with these buttons will happen on smartphones vs. the desktop.

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