I joined about a month or so ago but only checked into my first location on Wednesday. Only reason for the delay was that I hadn't downloaded the FourSquare app for my iPhone until this past week, and checking in without the app is nearly impossible.
As I sat at one of my favorite lunch locations, Liquid Lunch in Milford, CT, my mind (per usual) began to wonder what the possibilities were for restuarants, bars, cafes, and the like to harness and embrace the power of these location apps (Gowalla is a similar competitor).
To start, I noticed that there was no sign of any social media calls-to-action in the restaurant, urging customers to join their Facebook Fan Page or to follow them on Twitter. They could easily post today's soups and sandwich of the day, ask for recipe recommendations, offer Twitter or Facebook-only daily coupons, and more. Definitely a missed opportunity.
Getting to FourSquare, I immediately likened it to a frequent visitor card. Encourage your customers to check-in to FourSquare when they arrive, and after their 6th check-in they can get a cup of soup for free! If they're motivated enough, they could organize a FourSquare party like Joe Sorge did at a Milwaukee burger joint called AJ Bombers to earn the coveted "Swarm Badge" (50+ users in one place). [Editor's Note - There is now a "Super Swarm" badge that requires 250+ check-ins) In great social media fashion, pictures from the event were posted on Flickr. Notice the sign in the image below encouraging customers to follow them on Twitter and to check-in on FourSquare. That's what I'm talking about!
Naturally, Starbucks has embraced FourSquare, creating a "Baristas" badge which can be earned by checking into a Starbucks location five times. While I feel that a real reward like a free cup of coffee would be better, the unique badge is a step in the right direction. AJ Bombers knocked it out of the park. When will we see more establishments embracing these location-based mobile services?
If you have any examples of establishments utilizing location-based mobile services, please let me know in the comments!