Interview: Google Hotpot Community Manager Vanessa Schneider

Google swept into town recently to introduce a new product/service, Hotpot, which is an enhancement to Google Places. One of the people they sent to Portland to investigate the market and to rouse up some interest in Hotpot was Community Manager Vanessa Schneider. She graciously agreed to answer some of Heather‘s questions about Hotpot and her experience debuting it in Portland for Dave Knows’ readers!

Google Hotpot

What is Google Hotpot, exactly?

Hotpot is Google’s new local recommendation engine from Google Places, powered by you and your friends. You tell us what you like — restaurants, bars, hotels, hardware stores — and we serve you up personalized results the next time you do a Google search.

So for instance, I live in New York City. I’m a big Italian food fan, so I search on “italian restaurants, new york, ny.” In my search results, I see one of the first listings is Porchetta LLC, and at the bottom of the Porchetta result listing it says that my Hotpot friend Vivi rated it 4 stars, along with a sentence or two about his experience. Don’t have to go much farther than that — done and done!

You can rate places via our desktop client or via our Rate Places widget for Android (iPhone app coming soon!). And of course, you can search for places and recommendations via your desktop or Android (or wherever you do Google searches).

How is Hotpot different than Yelp, Citysearch or other places that rate businesses?

Think of Hotpot like a personalized, social layer on top of your existing Google search. It’s all about providing a better Google search experience for you. People are performing local searches every day, so we wanted to focus on making those results more relevant and social (everything’s more fun with friends!).

Hotpot is not just for restaurants, right? Can I see recommendations for other local businesses too?

Exactly, any kind of business. You can rate any spot listed on Google Places, our local business listings, and that’s just about every place. Here’s an example of a Place page (you probably see the iconic red pin a lot in your searches — those lead you to Place pages). Place pages exist for anything from cafes to doctors’ offices to book shops.

Dave Knows' Hotpot screenshot

How does Hotpot work for business owners? Is there a way for businesses to manage their site?

Business owners can definitely claim their free Place page, and in fact, many already have. This guarantees that their Places listing is up to date and accurate — they can list their address, business hours, photos and more. You can read more about how to claim your business listing here.

Because customers can leave public reviews on a business’s Place page, the owner can monitor those and also look for opportunities to respond to reviews on the page – here’s how. Business owners can also encourage customers to share their experiences and spread the word about their business via Hotpot.

Google could have chosen any city on the planet to launch Hotpot, but aren’t you glad they chose Portland?

Portland’s proven to be an amazing launch city choice. Everyone has been so welcoming and lovely! Not only are Portlanders tech savvy, but the city has a very strong local business community, and residents are constantly talking to one another about that delicious dish at that hot new restaurant — and that’s what Hotpot’s all about, sharing recommendations with friends and discovering new local places.

Have you tried poutine yet?

Yes, and it was glorious. After a long day at work, my colleague Sameer and I headed to Potato Champion at the Hawthorne food cart pod to eat the heck out of some poutine (Documented with Instagram here).

Can you put in a good word for Portland with Google Fiber?

Since I am now Portland’s newest #1 fan, I’ll do my best!

Vanessa blogs at, and can be found on Twitter too: @vanessagene. She also contributes to the Hotpot Community Blog (on Twitter: @GoogleHotpot).

Vanessa also encourages people to participate in the Hotpot Jackpot contest. Sign up for Hotpot and enter to win a dinner for up to 10 people at any Portland restaurant (there are first and second prizes as well). All you have to do is give your opinion about a bunch of places you’ve been on Hotpot, share your recommendations with friends on Hotpot, and you’ll earn points. The more points you earn, the better your chances of winning. Register today and start rating! Winners will be announced in February.


  1. Vanessa is fab! She’s the girl you *need* to know in Portland. She’s got lots of connections after growing up in the Hotpot land.

    Love this interview btw – very well rounded.


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