Sunday, August 21, 2011

Location Based Deals Have Some Work To Do

I'm a big proponent of Foursquare and other location based services. Recently, many have started adding deals to their services by incorporating other companies and services. A good example? JetBlue awarding JetBlue points for checking in on Facebook to their "official" JetBlue locations at the airport. But Foursquare keeps trying, and recently they upped the ante by partnering with Groupon to feature their deals. However, they still have some work to do.

For example, Foursquare will often prompt you to add "to do's" for places: essentially, bookmarks. Ok, fair enough. A while ago, I added a To-Do for a sushi place folks told me might be good. Now, at this point, Foursquare has the info: I want to go there. And, the other day, I fired up Foursquare and saw this:

All good, right? I click through, and I see:
Now, what, you are asking, is the problem? Well, look at the time at the top: it's 9:46 PM. Now, look at the bottom: "Must present between 5pm and 10PM on 8/18." Yes, it was 8/18, and it was 9:46 PM. Oh well, you say, I missed out on a deal. What's the problem?

Here's the problem: the restaurant offered the deal to get customers like me to try them. Groupon clearly had the deal in their system for a while before it ran. Foursquare knows I wanted to try the restaurant and had access to the Groupon info. So why, in the name of all that is understandable, would Foursquare not have sent my iOS device a push notification in advance, to tell me this was coming? Hell, they send me messages to let me know a friend has checked in; they let me know when a comment is made on a check in; they even let me know when new friends join Foursquare. They had access to all of this, and they hoped I would fire up the app in time??

Foursquare has the potential to change how we behave, our plans, and more in the real world. Merchants use Groupon usually only once, because the customers they get are deal-seekers, not customers like me who will come back again and again: by cross referencing expressed desires and check-in history, Foursquare could completely change that equation and instead of being beholden to folks like Groupon, they could make them cut far better deals; potentially, even cut the deals themselves, as the customers they deliver would be far more qualified.

It's a long road, but I hope they travel it, but it's off to a rocky start.

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