So why is this pertinent? Well there’s great news for Hoteliers, this is a new social media outlet that can totally be capitalized on! Aside from the user-facing game aspect of the application, Foursquare also features a back-end dashboard that provides venue owners multiple tools to utilize Foursquare for improving their businesses. Did I also mention all of this is free?
Here’s how Foursquare can help you with your hospitality aspirations:
1) Claim Your Venue
Foursquare allows you to Claim Your Venue, essentially allowing you to be the owner of the location where people try to “Check-In” to when they visit your establishment. Once claimed, you can remove duplicate locations in the area that may have been created by guests prior to yours in order to consolidate all check-ins and all content onto one locale. For more specific directions on how to claim your business, just follow this Link.
2) Create your Business Profile
Now that your Foursquare Page is the one people see when they try to “Check-In” to your location, create a profile for it, featuring all the things you want to high-light about your establishment. You can upload photos, write a general description, link your business’s website and twitter, and much more. This will allow you to have more control of business’s image on Foursquare and will allow you a way another channel to connect with your visitors.
Here is a more in-depth look at how to start your profile, courtesy of the guys at Foursquare:
3) Tips and To-Do Lists
Everything aside, one of Foursquare’s greatest advantages is that it allows venue owners some unique ways to interact with their customers. One of these features is the ability to leave tips and advice for things to do/places to see in order to enrich visitor experience. Visitors themselves can also leave tips and advice for other visitors. This can actually turn out to be a great feedback tool for you to see what guests are happy or excited about, and what things could use some improvement. Besides feedback, this tool is a great way to create “To-Do” lists for visitors at your venue in order to make their stay an even better experience.
4) Utilize the Game Features
Now that you are fully integrated into the Foursquare network, let’s have a little fun. You can now start offering specials and rewards for people who “Check-In” to your location on Foursquare and you can even offer the “Mayor” of your establishment special rewards for frequenting your location. Some of the more popular specials include discounts for first time “check-ins” at an establishment, loyalty specials (i.e. free appetizer on your fifth check in), and unique Mayor Royalty specials (i.e. free drink for the Mayor). Some other ideas for hoteliers include special discounts for next stays and allowing visitors who “check-in” to be entered into drawings for free stays or special deals. All of this can help promote repeat business with customers.
Although specials commonly promote discounts or specials, hoteliers have been getting more creative with their rewards system. One of the more creative ideas I’ve run across include rewarding users not on frequency of check-ins, but on the quality of the tips and to-do’s they leave for other guests. This idea encourages more engagement and conversation between users and offers better feedback, not only for other visitors, but for the venue owners themselves. Another idea I’ve seen is the use of foursquare to invite guests to attend hotel sponsored events or gatherings in order to again create more interactivity. Guests may not be rewarded for “Mayorships” or “Checking-In”, but will receive little perks at the events they attend (i.e. a free drink for attending a banquet). Both of these ideas used Foursquare’s social media features to emphasize on the main function of a hotel, to offer a good experience. So feel free to get creative, and try to find ways to help your guests help themselves to a better time.
5) The Advantage of the Merchant Dashboard
The Merchant Dashboard is a priceless tool for venue owners. It is full of useful information, such as daily average check-ins, the times when check-ins are most frequent, gender break out of visitors, etc. This information can be utilized to reveal many things, i.e. help owners realize when sow periods during the day are. Specials can then be created to entice more business during these times.
For those who are still not convinced that they should take the time out of their day to sign up for yet another Social Media site, check out this nifty infographic provided by Foursquare. To summarize, it celebrates their 10 millionth user as well as some interesting tid-bits of information that they’ve been able to gather. Created in 2009, the company has been experiencing an annual growth of 10,000%, and that 10 millionth user mark was hit last summer, June of 2011. It’s projected that their current user base is closer to 20 million now.
Dashboard Preview provided by Lauren Drell at Mashables. Check out her interesting article on Foursquare here!
Foursquare Will Only Get Bigger!
So what makes “checking-in” so addictive? It probably has something to do with the rise of the smartphone market and the increased accessibility of mobile broadband on smartphones and tablets within the last few years, but in the end it’s the fact that the social nature of the app is just plain fun. Being able to earn badges, become mayors, and share “check-ins” with friends is just a great way to interact and compete with friends on Foursquare’s social network. As network effects take hold, and more value is generated through local business participation, Foursquare will only get larger and more integrated. With that said, now is definitely a great time for hoteliers to get involved, so take the time and sign up your business up today!