So why isn’t the travel industry using Foursquare to increase business and build a loyal travel base the way Vons is?
Contrary to what the puerile think, Foursquare is not about badges and mayors.
The location based service giant is all about making deals with commercial partners, and creating new ways of rewarding customer loyalty.
Tristan Walker, Foursquare’s director of business development , admits it. He likens it to those foodie movies where the star chef whisks off his chef’s hat, and dashes out of the kitchen to shake hands with the loyal, wealthy diner.
In this case the loyal customer of Vons ( a subsidiary of Safeway) may not be wealthy, but the grocery chain still rewards him when he links to Foursquare. Foursquare partners with lots of big name retailers including Starbucks (Barista Badge for checking in at 5 different Starbucks) and Whole Foods, where loyal “checker-iners” may get a free lemonade or reusable bags.
And smaller partners like Monique’s chocolates in California, benefit from Foursquare assistance in creating the kinds of platforms that help the retailer offer and position specials.
All this is well and good. But until allen and gerritsen, a medium-size, smart Watertown, MA-based branding and advertising agency came along and proved the Foursquare Loyalty program actually worked, who knew?
Now we know.
While Vons is not a client of allen and gerritsen, and the study is not strictly scientific, the results are insightful:
• Eighty-six percent of Vons’ customers interviewed said they were “somewhat likely” to link their Foursquare account to the supermarket’s loyalty program, confirming that people are indeed willing to give up their location data (privacy?) in exchange for deals and offers
• Fifty-three percent of shoppers said they were likely to visit Vons regularly because of the Vons-Foursquare program
• Forty-seven percent said they were now more likely to use Foursquare more regularly, music to Walker’s ears
• A huge 73 percent said they would redeem the Foursquare-Vons targeted offers, thus increasing business for Vons and building customer loyalty
So again we ask, why isn’t the travel industry using Foursquare to increase business and build a loyal travel base?
With few exceptions like the city of Chicago, and Virgin’s Loyalty program the retail industry is so far ahead of the travel industry.
For an industry dealing in imagination and fantasy, and is “people and loyalty driven” (the return guests), travel is mired in the days of print-based marketing.
They still ask content providers for the names of publications, the numbers of readers, and where the magazine or newspaper can be found.
Mike Schneider, author of the timely Location Based Marketing for Dummies and Senior VP, Director Digital Incubator at allen and gerritsen has his opinion about how travel can benefit from Location Based Marketing: “What we would really like to see is a mobile commerce play where people, wherever they are, can find trip related deals. Perhaps airlines could offer location-based specials on half-booked flights. Hotels could offer deep discounts on rooms that would otherwise go unbooked. Imagine being able to check-in and pay for a hotel when you check-in on foursquare. There are so many opportunities that have not been explored yet.”
State and national tourism offices have to figure out the equation: Proximity marketing/location based services + rewards = customer loyalty, increased traffic and business.