Google has expanded on its Popular Times and Visit Duration feature with the addition of restaurant wait times to its search results and maps. Now, Google users who look for your restaurant are not only able to find out how long the average person spends at your establishment, but also how long they can expect to wait if they arrive without a reservation.
While this is good news for patrons, it’s a mixed bag for restaurants. Obviously, everyone wants a diner to get their food as fast as possible because it keeps everyone happy and gets more customers in the door. From this point of view, the wait time feature will benefit everyone. However, unlike apps such as Nowait, which allows a patron to add themselves to the wait list, Google’s wait time feature provides an average wait time. We all know that the average wait time is not necessarily the actual wait time in a restaurant on any given day. To make matters worse, Google does not feature the capability to be added to the wait list of the over one million restaurants Google plans to track wait times for.
Unfortunately, for restaurants, they will have to deal with customers who have complete faith in Google’s accuracy. This can work in one of two ways. The first is that a customer chooses not to eat at a restaurant that looks like it has a long wait time, even though the restaurant may be having a slow day because it’s the off season. The second is that a customer arrives to a restaurant expecting no wait because Google says the restaurant is usually empty, only to find that there’s an hour wait, which could lead to an irate customer creating a scene. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all works out. In the meantime, hopefully, people will figure out that they should continue doing what they always have: call head to find out the wait time.