Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Become a "Mayor" on FourSquare and Earn Free Hotel Stays?

I tried Foursquare for the first time on May 16.

I was forced to.

Attending the Society of American Travel Writer's Editors Council, all of the participants went on a "social media" walk, with each of us assigned a different task (tweeting, posting photos, etc.). My job was to check in with FourSquare when we got to the destination we'd be exploring, the Ace Hotel.

We got to the hotel and I logged that info into FourSquare. It acknowledged I was there and I was done. And pretty bored. The entire exercise seemed pointless. Though I will acknowledge that had I been a 20-something bar hopper, hoping to meet up with friends, but unwilling just to call them--which seems something that generation considers a no-no--Foursquare might have some value for me.

I'm obviously in the minority on this. These types of sites are wildly popular, so popular in fact that corporate concerns are trying to get into bed with them. And this may be where they actually become helpful for travelers.

Barbara de Lollis, in her hotel column for, reports that  a new website called Topguest  will reward those folks who post "check ins" online with points towards freebies at the properties in question.

The preview site for Topguest launched last week with one corporate partner: the Standard Hotels. When users visit one of the Standard Properties, whether for a stay or a drink at the bar, and then log in either to FourSquare or Gowalla (or tweet about the experience, or post on GoogleLatitude, Yelp or Loopt), they'll receive points towards free stays. Topguest claims that the Standard is just the first of many more partners it has waiting in the wings.

If this actually works as promised, maybe I'll give FourSquare another shot. If not, I think I'll avoid it and instead head to the site which alerts users to the dangers of oversharing on social media sites.

(Photo: The Standard Hotel in NYC by Laura Manning)

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