Checking In: Tourism and Foursquare

By Amy Slife Foursquare’s location based technology is taking off across a variety of industries as a new tool being added to the social media marketing mix. From fashion designers like Jimmy Choo and Cynthia Rowley, to publications like Bon Appetit, Lucky Magazine and the WSJ, brands of all sorts, sizes and functionalities are adopting foursquare.  A recent area of adoption is in the tourism industry. Two ground breakers employing foursquare for tourism purposes are the Chicago Office of Tourism and the Pennsylvania Tourism Board.

The City of Chicago’s Explore Chicago campaign encourages locals as well as tourists to check out some of the lesser known city landmarks and newer business by personalizing the game with Chicago-specific badges. Explore Chicago has 60 check-in locations set up around the city that are in line with three iconic Chicago badges  the user can earn: Chicago-style hot dogs, Chicago Blues and Chicago film locations. The “On Location” movie badge dives a bit deeper as foursquare users are able to select a movie experience and explore related sites around the city. Movie experiences range from specific films like Blues Brothers and The Dark Knight, to the more general theme of Chick Flicks in Chicago. With a check-in at five of the eligible locations listed for each badge, Chicago foursquare users are able to rack up badges unique to their city. To further engage vacationers and tourists, the Chicago Office of Tourism incorporated an added promo into their foursquare strategy where two out-of-towners were eligible to win a trip to Chicago to try out the foursquare challenge if they named a scene from the classic film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Slightly similar, Pennsylvania’s tourism board has employed the social media tool across its Commonwealth as a component in their summer campaign, The Fantastic Roadtrip-a-Matic, which aims to target the road tripping youth. The tourism board created 100 locations across the state where users can check in and receive a tip or a piece of advice for the location. Similar to the Chicago campaign, the Pennsylvania Tourism Board has created three unique badges that foursquare users are able to snag by checking into three of the many eligible locations across the state. These badges are focused around historical sites, restaurants and shopping with the unique PA Shooflyer, PA 4 Score and 7 and PA Retail Polka badges.

Tourism related campaigns are yet another way to utilize location-based social media tools like foursquare. From sharing insider tips with locals, tourists and new residents, to hints about a city’s best underground restaurants and bars, to history tips along a locale like Boston’s Historical Freedom Trail, foursquare holds great promise and opportunity for tourism campaigns in cities and states around the U.S. What are your thoughts on tourism and foursquare? If your city or state incorporated tourism into one of their campaigns, would you be apt to participate? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!