See when a business is busiest – via Google Search

Avoid the queues - use google searchDo you ever turn up to a business at exactly the wrong time? Like, when loads of people are there too?
Or maybe you’re planning to visit a local attraction, but you want to know its quietest times?
Maybe you’re just sick of waiting at the local Indian restaurant for everyone else to make up their minds about what to order for dinner?

You’re not alone! This is something we all grapple with – after all who has time to wait in queues (even with a smartphone to distract us) just to get the simplest tasks done?

Well, now you’re in luck – Google Search now provides a feature to see the busiest times of the week at millions of places and businesses around the world.

Mike Blumenthal has the full lowdown on his blog including a list of FAQs from Google.

Does it work in Australia?

I’ve done some testing and can confirm that it is showing in Australia, though not for every business that I tried. It certainly seems to be rolling out to food related businesses first though – I tried a number of tourist attractions, and other service related businesses (like hairdressers and the Post office) and didn’t see the feature.

Here are screenshots for a café in my old Melbourne neighbourhood:

Busy times showing for Barry on Monday Google busy times showing for Barry - blank

It looks like the rollout is staged to some degree as it is possible to see results for American based department stores, petrol stations and museums. Here’s the result for “Getty Museum Los Angeles”:

Google busy times for Getty Museum


And here’s something interesting: the day defaults to the day in the location. So for Barry Café, it showed me (by default) Wednesday, whilst for the Getty Museum I was shown Tuesday’s data (since it is Tuesday in the U.S.A)

Two questions that you probably want to know the answer to

Q: Where does Google get this data from?

Google’s Answer: The information is based on anonymized and aggregated visits to places from Google users who have opted-in to sharing location data.

Q: What types of places will this information show for?

Google’s Answer: This information shows for places where users are commonly worried about how busy it typically gets. Data will show up for locations with regular foot traffic and a local listing on Google Maps (emphasis mine).

So, if your business is more appointment based (like an orthopaedic surgeon), or is a Service Area Business (like a mobile vet) then you’re not going to see this feature for your business.

Also, if you are a shopfront business then you really, really need to get a local listing on Google Maps. If you don’t have one, and aren’t showing this data, then you’re just not going to seem as reputable to your customers, as the competitor down the street.

How could you use it as a business?

Where this feature is present I can think of some great ways to use it:

  • Suggest alternative times to customers on your Google+ page or on your website even, based on the data provided!
  • If you have an email list, make offers that reward customers for coming in at different (less busy) times.
  • Run promotions online during those times (since it is highly likely your customers will be killing time online whilst waiting).

So what do you think? Will you be likely to use this feature as a local small business owner or not?

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  1. says

    Priya, thanks for always posting interesting articles you never fail to amaze me. Every time i read your article i do really enjoy it. Checking the activity of a business is very important because you can see and know what strategy you will do for your business.

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