This is another post in the ongoing series on “Social Networks for Ski Resorts“. The big buzz this past year in social network marketing seems to have been about geo-location. Foursquare is one of the largest of the geolocation centric services with about 3 million users and about 15,000 businesses offering “Special Offers”.

PCMR Foursquare business listing

The key things to note about Foursquare is that while it is still a small social network, it offers businesses a great opportunity to hone in on some of the unique opportunities that geo-location offers. For a ski resort, the business opportunities are pretty much limited to offering check-in specials for customers at on-mountain restaurants. Once a resort claims and or creates their venue page using the Foursquare business management tools, they can offer specials based upon (copied from the Foursquare biz page):

  • Mayor Specials: unlocked only by the Mayor of your venue. Who’s the Mayor? It’s your single most loyal customer! (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days) (“Foursquare has deemed you the Mayor? Enjoy a free order of french fries!”)
  • Check-in Specials: unlocked when a user checks in to your venue a certain number of times. (“Foursquare says you’ve been here 10 times? That’s a free drink for you!”)
  • Frequency-based Specials: are unlocked every X check-ins. (“Foursquare users get 20% off any entree every 5th check-in!”)
  • Wildcard Specials: always unlocked, but your staff has to verify some extra conditions before awarding the Special. (“Show us your foursquare Swarm badge and get a free drink!”)

There are lots of opportunities to get creative with ways to drive customers to various on-mountain restaurants with these options, but I’d love to see more ways to drive users to ride a certain lift – by having users check-in at the base of top of said lift, or perhaps visit, and check-in at, every terrain park, but I don’t see these options currently available in the base venue package on Foursquare. There are additional opportunities that brands that Foursquare has special arrangements with, see: http://foursquare.com/thedewtour, http://foursquare.com/visitpa and http://foursquare.com/redskinsdotcom to see some examples.

The drawbacks to using a service like Foursquare is that all of the ways to interface with it require a web connection and using most of the mobile apps also requires a GPS or other location acquisition method . Only so many skiers and riders will have devices with them that allow for this and as I’ve discussed before, how many people will want to be pulling a phone out of their pocket on the slopes and is this something that really adds (or detracts) to the guest experience on-mountain?

To wrap up, I haven’t seen any examples of ski resorts using Foursquare, even ones that are just using the specials tool, have you? Let us know in the comments if you have.