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Foursquare Takes Aim At Travel and Tourism

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Foursquare Takes On Travel and Tourism

I sat in on a Tweetchat (#lbschat) last week on how Location Based Services (LBS) affect Travel and Tourism.

I was of course impressed with the sharp, fast-thinking minds of the chatters, and especially impressed at how much of an impact LBS, especially Foursquare are having on the travel experience, and the entire Travel And Tourism industry.

I knew that Chicago’s Office of Tourism has a city-specific deal with Foursquare to get visitors out and into the city.

The three badges one earns are cool and reflect the city’s culture: Chicago Style hot dogs, Chicago movie locations and Chicago blues.

By “trekking” the city, visitors get to see all kinds of places (not just the obvious ones) through tips from other travelers and the tourism board, and earn the badges associated with visiting the venues. Good news for Chicago.

The LBS chat was led by Eric Leist, an LBS expert and colleague, and focused on Foursquare.

Gowalla, Whrrl and others were very much part of the session.

The question, “How can Foursquare drive traffic to and around a destination?”

The thought was that while real-time decisions can come from Geo-tagged Tips, Foursquare now gives travelers and users the ability to plan a trip on line with the virtual “To Do” list, driving planned sight-seeing action.

Travelers planning their travel on line will see all the “Tips” and respond by adding them to their action-oriented “To Do List,” which is great news for a destination.

Whether this was effective for global travel or just local travel was never decided.

In response to what location based app would be the one to take on vacation (domestic), the clear answer was Foursquare.

But the hope was the app will quickly develop the ability to complete the “Tip Loop,” so that when someone leaves a “tip,” they’ll be notified when their tip was completed. A big missing feature at the moment.

How can on line travel giants like Expedia and Orbitz use LBS’s was quickly answered with, “That’s easy. Hire professional “tipsters” or reward “tipsters” for leaving good tips, and using Orbitz’s name.”

Or, better, book with Orbitz or Expedia and check in at places they designate and get free rewards, like upgrades, or more likely, air mileage.

While Gowalla was preferred for new places, Foursquare was for “badges” and “mayorships.”

But Leist predicted that location elements will be so common across all media, you won’t think which app you’re using on the road.

“Every application, he says, “will have a location tie in.” That’s huge for travel.

Ties-ins with travel suppliers are already happening.

Four Seasons apparently has a deal with Gowalla where guests get a $100 gift certificate if they complete certain “Trekks.”

Someone said it wasn’t worth it, but the answer was, it is, because Four Seasons will learn location-based marketing lessons (analyze data from users to see which badges are the most popular; which venues get the most action), and be ahead of the game.

On LBS and video and audio?

Best bet is to check Leist’s blog summary.

But expect travel suppliers and LBS providers to link up.

Retail outlets at destinations will tease visitors with rich media ads (video, audio), then offer discounts and coupons, driving traffic to various aspects of the destination and promoting it.

And on it goes.

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