Advertising Age, a leading advertising industry publication was one of the first to carry the story on Forrester Research's new findings on location based services like Foursquare and Gowalla with a headline that proclaimed "Why most marketers should forgo Foursquare". The exhortation was a consequence of the Forrester study that Ad Age characterizes as a " verdict of Forrester Research on location-based start-ups, which,
despite their reputation as the hot new media, are still too small for
major marketers. The research firm finds that these heavily-hyped apps
currently make sense mainly for brands seeking male influencers."
Forrester's report quoted by Ad Age shows that only 4% of online adults have ever used LBS based mobile apps and as few as 1% update these services
more than once per week. Further, as many as 84% of respondents said they are
not familiar with such apps. While Forrester's executive summary of the report does note "most marketers should wait until they can get a bigger bang for their
buck" they add the caveat that the wait should be for "adoption rates (to) increase and established players emerge from
Hospitality companies ought not to heed Forrester's seemingly cautionary tone much less Ad Age's injunction as that would arguably be short sighted. If one were to hark back to the early days of the internet, it likely had similar demographics and firms that started early and reacted to trends and feedback likely had more than a head-start to the digital age. Foursquare (and other LBS services) are here to stay and while the service providers may morph with time and competition, waiting for that to happen before getting on the bandwagon is a poor strategy. Hotels including Apple Core Hotels are already being reviewed and talked about on Foursquare as in this recent instance where users have posted comments about a room as well as a hotel's bar.
Thankfully both hotel companies such as IHG, which seems to be a leader in the field seem intent on not just acknowledging LBS but doing their best to be at the forefront by giving away loyalty points for check-ins through Topguest, a portal that offers members-only service that automatically gives real rewards program points for check-ins, a topic covered by this site recently. Destinations such as the US state of Pennsylvania, who like most others have severe budget constraints, have also chosen to use Foursquare to promote themselves. Not to be left behind are airports, such as Gatwick, which amped-up its use of social media as a "24-hour response tool".
Search behemoth, Google, never a laggard on any front, has launched an update for Google maps for its Android which essentially offers what Foursquare does: a listing of what's around including restaurants, bars, hotels, attractions, ATMs etc. Only goes to show that getting behind location based services is surely a way of being ahead of the curve.