I blogged about the addition of Google Adwords Express, allowing you to quickly create targeted ads (but not necessarily cheaply) - and last night when I popped back to see how my places entry was doing, I noticed another new feature which was originally only available in the States (although I had access to it for a while but it then disappeared without warning a year or so ago) - Offers.
This is a way of enhancing your Google Places page by offering your visitors special discount codes that they can use for services or goods you provide, if they find your Google Places page. Given the increased prominence of Google Places results, and the general trend towards more location-based search results (and of course, with the increase in mobile device use) I think this is a great way to bring in more customers.
If you search Google Maps for 'Virya Technologies' you will find our place page, and if you scroll down a bit, you'll see the offers available. Better still, search on Google Maps or Latitude from your phone, and it looks even nicer!
The value for this kind of system, particularly for restaurants, pubs, clubs, and any kind of business really, speaks for itself. Note that from your phone you can also call the location directly, get directions, view on a map, and if you use Latitude (similar to 4square but with close control over privacy) you can also get various 'ranks' based on how frequently you check in at locations - starting at 'Regular', then progressing to 'Guru'. In the USA some companies can then offer rewards to people as they move up through the ranks (not available in the UK yet, as far as I know).
Google places is going to have a big part to play as Google+ and Google Search develops - don't get left behind!
Go to www.google.co.uk/places to get started!