Thanks to Benji Greenberg of BCV and Revinate‘s Linden Freeman for a great Webinar this morning about how hoteliers can use foursquare to drive loyalty and sales.
We received a lot of great questions during the event and Linden’s responses are below. Scroll all the way down for a copy of the slide deck and a recording of the Webinar.
If you are offering a Special, how do you monitor the people who want to take advantage of it?
If a person has noticed your Special and wants to redeem it, they have to unlock the Special by meeting the criteria you have set for them (e.g. checking-in three times within a week). They will then need to show their phone screen to one of your employees that indicates they’ve unlocked the special. It’s important to make sure that all of your employees are aware of any Specials you’re offering on foursquare and that they know how to recognize if a Special has been unlocked. Foursquare has a flyer you can share with employees that shows what it looks like when a Special has been unlocked on a user’s phone. (And of course Revinate customers can access the flyers after creating Specials within Revinate.)
The Gowalla application just introduced a new concept of “Travel and Storytelling.” How do you think this could be utilized and could it serve as a better alternative to foursquare?
Gowalla recently launched an updated version of its application, which incorporates two new key areas: travel and storytelling. This update makes them now more of a city travel guide, downplaying the role of check-ins in favor of discovery, travel and storytelling. Checking-in is now just one aspect of the app. When you pull up Gowalla on your phone now, you’ll still see the main activity feed where you can find the activity from your friends. But now, instead of a stream of check-ins, you’ll notice people hanging out together, sharing photos, and talking to each other in smaller groups, which Gowalla calls “stories.” Gowalla is building more than 60-curated city guides that help tell people where to go and what to see. Users are also encouraged to build “stories” out of their travels, which start with their check-ins but can be enhanced by tagging other people and gathering pictures uploaded for particular stories. With this relaunch it seems that Gowalla is trying to differentiate itself from foursquare by moving away from game-based elements, and focusing on local discovery. Since foursquare has such a larger user-base, I feel that it’s still your safest bet. Foursquare also provides businesses with the ability to create and run Specials, which provides real value to customers and a way to entice people to go to your business. It’s important to do your homework though with the different location-based services out there and see if your target audience is using them. If people are actively engaged on Gowalla in your market, then it’s worth claiming your business and paying attention to what people are saying about your location.
You mentioned the importance of being authentic with responses to people who check-in on foursquare, but how do you do this without having any information on this person?
When people check-in to your venue on foursquare, they have the ability to also leave a tip, post a photo and/or share their check-in to their Twitter/Facebook accounts. If you see that someone has posted a tip or a photo, this gives you a little more information about what they think about the venue. Maybe it’s something specific to your hotel lobby – you could tweet back to them that you hope they like the lobby, and why not check-out the view of the beach outside? When people tweet their check-in, they can add a comment about what they’re doing. So if the person has linked their Twitter account to their foursquare profile, you could check out the person’s Twitter account and see if they have said anything more specific about what they’re doing, which would allow you to customize your response. Otherwise, I think the fact that you’re tweeting back to them and welcoming them to your hotel is a great way to surprise and delight them.
How about foursquare in international markets? Is it becoming more widely adopted, or is it mainly just used within the U.S.?
Foursquare is definitely starting to gain more traction in international markets. In February 2011, foursquare announced that they launched five translations of their application – in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Since then they’ve seen that these five new languages represent some of our fastest growing areas internationally. Just recently at the beginning of September 2011, they announced the launch of five more languages (Bahasa Indonesia, Korean, Protugese, Russian and Thai). For more information on their integration of foreign languages, checkout their blog article here.
In case you missed the webinar, you can find a copy of the slides here and a recording below. As always, we would love your feedback on the webinar and would love to know what other topics you would like to see us cover.