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Checking-In In Places: Another Method of Building Customer Loyalty

Mobile apps, like Foursqures, Facebook Places, and Twitter Places, allow people to check-in in places they visit and share their locations with their friends. On Foursquare, members can earn “points” by checking-in places. The more places a member checks-in, the more points s/he earns. Members can compete on the weekly “leaderboard” and see which friend earned the most points for the week. It seems like a real fun game, but what does this mean to business?

On Foursquare, after members check-in in a business, they will receive exclusive member discounts offered by the venue. If a member checks-in in a place more than anybody else, s/he becomes the “mayor” of the place and can enjoy even more specials that are only available for mayors. Foursquare help business capture those potential frequent customers. Now, Foursquare has 4.5 million users, and the number is still growing. Moreover, members can check-in in the space (as stated in the embedded CNN News video, an interview of Foursquare’s Founder and CEO, Dennis Crowley).

I checked-in places on Facebook and Twitter when I was in the City. It was fun! It seems to me that retailers are leading the mobile trend again because I saw signage in the stores of GAP, Macy’s, Lord & Taylors, H & M, and actually almost every retail store in Manhattan, asking people to check-in in their locations on Facebook for exclusive discounts. However, I did not find many promotion flyers in hotels or restaurants.

Referring back to our previous discussion on mobile trend and the mobile coupon concept introduced by Target, what role does cell phone play in today’s business? What is the future of cell phone apps in business? As a customer, how do you like or dislike these location apps? How do you balance between “sharing information” and “protecting your privacy”?

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