Michelle Wohl is the VP of Marketing at Revinate. Based in San Francisco, Michelle has worked in technology marketing since graduating from Cornell University.

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Foursquare Updates Privacy Policy: What Hotels & Restaurants Need to Know

Foursquare recently announced changes to its Privacy Policy that affect hotels and restaurants. Two notable changes, which will go into effect on January 28, 2013, are discussed in its new Privacy 101 document. Here’s what the company has to say about the changes:

1. Foursquare will now display full names. Currently, Foursquare displays both full names and first name and last initial (“John Smith” vs. “John S.”), depending on the usage. For instance, if you search for a friend in foursquare, it shows his/her full name in the results, but when you click through to the profile page you don’t see the last name. Foursquare says, “In the original versions of foursquare, these distinctions made sense. But we get emails every day saying that it’s now confusing. So, with this change, full names are going to be public. As always, you can alter your ‘full name’ on foursquare at https://foursquare.com/settings.”

2. A business on Foursquare will be able to see more of its recent customers. Currently, a business using foursquare can see the customers who have checked in in the last three hours (in addition to the most recent and the most loyal visitors). This listing is great for identifying customers and giving them more personal service or offers but since many businesses only have time to log in at the end of the day, foursquare will now show more of those recent check-ins, instead of just three hours worth. Foursquare says, “As always, if you’d prefer not to permit businesses to see when you check into their locations going forward, you can uncheck the box under ‘Location Information’ at https://foursquare.com/settings/privacy.”

What do these changes mean for social media and community managers in the hospitality industry? First, there’s an obvious benefit to being able to see a user’s full name. With this information, which foursquare users have consented to sharing, you will be able to ‘surprise and delight’ more guests by looking up full names in your registration database. I will always remember when Dos Caminos on Third Avenue in New York offered me a complimentary drink just because I chose to share my check-in across my social network. Needless to say, this surprising gesture of kindness has caused me to share this story countless times over and drew me back to the restaurant several more times.

The second implication of foursquare’s new policy – increasing the duration of time that check-ins are visible to venue managers – similarly will improve a hotel or restaurant’s understanding of its social media audience. What many hoteliers and restaurateurs sometimes overlook is that foursquare, particularly in major markets, not only sheds some useful insight into what your most mobility-savvy customers like and dislike about your venue (e.g. tips) but also affords some handy demographic information about your check-in audience.

If you are a Revinate user, you are able to manage your foursquare account through the foursquare tab on the Revinate dashboard. Come January 28th, you will now have even more user data at your disposal about your guests. So what should you do in the meanwhile? Make sure that, if you haven’t already, you add your foursquare venue(s) to your Revinate account and perhaps even try starting a Campaign. For some specific ideas on what works well on Foursquare, have a look at these examples.


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