Why Foursquare’s City Badges Are Perfect for Destination Marketing

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Foursquare, boasting more than 15 million users, is the leading location-based social platform that allows users to “check in” to places via their mobile phones.

There are several components that make Foursquare attractive to its users, including the ability to earn freebies (many locations now offer complimentary items just for checking in), plus the social component — being able to share information about favorite spots with friends, and learn about new places from others as well.

Another factor that makes Foursquare appealing is the game component, which rewards users with points and “badges” for checking into certain places. While this aspect is just for fun and doesn’t usually reap any physical benefits, many people enjoy checking in to accumulate these “rewards” and compare with friends.

Badges are rewarded in various genres, e.g., if you check into five different coffee spots, you earn the Barista badge; if you check into five different airports, you get the JetSetter badge; if you attend ten different art galleries, the Warhol badge is yours, etc.

Many restaurants are taking advantage of Foursquare and offering check-in deals and mayor rewards, which is pleasing many Foursquare users.

Last fall, a new opportunity arose for destination marketing organizations: Foursquare unveiled city badges, rewarding users for visiting numerous attractions in certain cities.

For example, badges for LondonParis and Istanbul have been rolled out. By visiting the corresponding links, you can get an idea of the kinds of places you’d have to visit to earn each badge.

To discern the various locations that must be visited in order for each city’s badge to be unlocked, Foursquare looked at the tens of millions of places where people have checked in, along with tapping into the collective knowledge of Superusers. They’ve subsequently included well-known spots, local favorites and lots of options in between: everything from hotels, restaurants, museums, malls and more.

To find out the places you need to go to be a local foursquare expert for a certain city, take a look at foursquare.com/4sqCities. Follow the lists, and, next time you make it to the city (or if you’re there already!), check in to five of the places to unlock your badge.

This is a great opportunity for destinations to get some unique marketing. By creating a city list for users to achieve that city’s badge, they are thereby:

  1. advertising for major city attractions [for free/comparatively cheap]
  2. getting free exposure whenever someone checks into each place, as their friends/followers are alerted of each check-in
  3. giving people an incentive to frequent your city and its hot spots
  4. setting up authentic promotional opportunities (free hotel night for people who have your city’s badge, maybe?)

Because Foursquare is so easily accessible from mobile devices, people are able to use it easily and constantly, providing an intimate opportunity for brands to get folks sharing their experiences with those brands (or destinations).

Have you begun to tap into Foursquare as part of your destination marketing initiatives?

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller contributes a monthly column on Social Media for the Hospitality Industry. Debbie is the President of Social Hospitality where she provides clients with writing, editing, and social media services. She is also the Social Media Manager for Search Engine Journal and the Digital Communications Manager for HyperDisk Marketing. Prior, Debbie worked for a destination marketing organization and now has 8 years of hospitality marketing experience. Debbie has also taught social media courses and speaks at industry events. When she's not online, Debbie enjoys spending time with her spoiled dog children; watching movies; reading; and drinking copious amounts of coffee or wine. +Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller


Covering trends related to hospitality and social media, technology, marketing, branding, customer service, engagement, SEO, blogging. Founder: @TheBigDebowski
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