Dateline: Downtown Chicago — Inside the Google offices on a Sunday afternoon.
This job does get us into some cool places. Observing the Google culture without Googlers present still delivers an extraordinary sense of place. We used the #IPW14 kickoff weekend to meet with the eTourism Summit Advisory Council regarding format, speakers and content for #eTS14. [Registration here.]
M&Ms and a Music Room
This particular floor is kitted out around a baseball theme. Two rattan swing chairs overlooking the Chicago skyline offer a contemplative corner; three treadmills alongside provide an alternative to get creative juices flowing. It’s more than the comfort of knowing that free food is always within 150 feet of every Googler. To ward off after-lunch blahs, the indoor running track indicates that 12 laps equals one mile. If music helps with self-expression, an electric guitar waits at the ready against the wall in the jam session room. The backs of the restroom door stalls have “Lessons in the Loo” posted to maximize every moment. A walkabout revealed such talking points as a vintage mobile phone collection and a Prohibition-era speakeasy bar.
Baseball in the Boardroom
In Waveland Field video conference room, the tech bells and whistles one would expect are present, but with a distinct lack of flashiness. Baseball mitts decorate the perimeter of a whiteboard. Yes, even at Google, functional 60s-era dry-wipes with an array of colored markers facilitate a brainstorming session.
From Beta to Basics
Everyone knows that Google and innovation are synonymous. We’ve heard Google executives say they’re not afraid to debut products in alpha or beta to see what consumers and businesses like and dislike. Nevertheless, when alpha turns into beta and beta becomes basics, it’s way past the hour to get your business on board.
While kicking around trends, dissecting insights, weighing pain points and generally engaging in macro visions with micro tweaking for our October eTourism Summit, we managed a bonus conversation with Advisory Council member and our host, Googler Shaun Aukland of the travel team.
Good Stuff From Google
Shaun shares his recommendations for the top three things a local business should do straight away, if not yesterday, to maximize discoverability in search. He ranks them, too.
1. Claim your Places for Business maps listing. Show up across the web. Be found on Google Search, Maps, Google+, and mobile devices. Make sure your business hours are accurate and kept up to date. Add photos and a good description.
2. Build your best Multi-Screen and Mobile Website. Ensure that it’s friendly and optimized for smart phone and tablet use. A seamless mobile experience is critical with the latest Google recommendations shown here.
3. Claim your Google Maps Business View. A 360-degree inside view of your business is enhanced by Google’s Street View technology. Shaun recommends getting started with a Google-certified photographer listed here by city, or a trusted agency. They’ll arrive with a tripod. Really, all you need to do is tidy up first. Like this:
-Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Register now for eTourism Summit 2014. We may even slip a packet of M&Ms into your registration kit.