I tried out Foursquare as we were showing Rod around North Hordaland a couple of days ago. Foursquare is a location-aware social network and game – you use your GPS-enabled phone to “check in” at interesting places, you can leave tips about interesting stuff to do for other people to see, and you can collect points and earn badges by checking in at particular places. Although every tenth Norwegian apparently now has an iPhone, there aren’t too many Foursquare users, it seems. I was the first person to tag Bergen Public Library, for instance. And we drove along the coast an hour or two out of Bergen with nary a tag in site – until we got to Mongstad Oil Refinery, which had a mayor and everything. (As an aside, there’s a great photo op at the parking lot between the industrial park and the actual refinery at Mongstad – awesome postindustrial views there. Someone should shoot their wedding photos there.) I tagged HÂkon the Good’s burial mound, the coastal heath museum and a good restaurant we found tucked away by the waterside – but I would have LOVED to see other peoples’ finds as we drove around exploring.

Anyway, I poked around a bit to see what there is for Chicago, since we go there pretty often. Turns out ExploreChicago has set up a whole game on Foursquare where you can earn specific badges in Foursquare by checking in at specified locations. Here’s their Foursquare profile. I’m thinking of going for the hotdog badge.

Sadly, I won’t be using Foursquare when I visit Chicago, because of exorbitant data roaming prices. Unless some of those hotdog restaurants have wifi, I suppose.

I would love for the Norwegian tourist board to launch a Foursquare campaign (or several!) – but those data roaming prices mean that foreign visitors simply wouldn’t want to use it. However, Norwegians would – and if digi.no is right that every tenth Norwegian has an iPhone, there’d surely be a market for it.

10 thoughts on “tourist, with iphone

  1. Linn

    I was eager to try the Chicago Foursquare with my iPod touch. But sadly, as everywhere else, there was little free WiFi to make it work for me.

    I’m actually enjoying Gowalla a bit more than Foursquare. Sure – there’s some absurd virtual “goodies” along the way. But I find it easier to communicate with others in the same place and there’s also a picture feature that I’m enjoying. I haven’t completely given up on Foursquare, because I’m sure that there’s some great fun for storytelling (although I haven’t figured out how to make your own tours yet). Although I find the virtual goodies from Gowalla useless – I’ve found myself wanting to create my own virtual item. You get a glass of champagne if you’ve checked in at my house more than 5 times, for example. Or this could be a great way to communicate with loyal customers. Deals for faithful customers who’ve checked in the 10th time in a week or something like that. Every 10th check in you get a coffee a.s.o.

    My profile an Gowalla:

    http://gowalla.com/users/lisov

  2. Carl Christian

    Kommenterer hos @jilltxt om stedsbaserte tjenester. God støtte til @waagenilsen ønsker om proaktiv reiselivsnæring http://is.gd/cn0Wx

  3. carl christian

    I donít think Foursquare and GoWalla ever will be relevant for the Norwegian tourist industry, or most other businesses here simply because the user base is too small. As you already have found out. However, when Facebook implements the function, there will be a whole different picture, and my guess is that as soon as we se that, especially the tourism, but surely a variety of companies, will start to experiment with this.

  4. carl christian

    …and now, by a tweet (oh the irony) by @yapluka, i was reminded on what i wanted to add here:
    I do believe that Facebook already has (or is very close to have) this function ready for international launch, but has been forced to put it on hold due to the privacy concerns.
    So my guess is that as soon as they have solved this, and calmed the public, the new feature will be rolled out as a new choice, accompanied by simple explanations and assurances that this in no way threatens the users default privacy settings.

  5. carl christian

    I tried to add this link, for some reason it was left out.: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/23/AR2010052303828.html

  6. Jill Walker Rettberg

    I’ll try GoWalla – but I’m rather annoyed that all my tagging of locations apparently has to be done in proprietary networks that might well disappear or that I might lose access to. I tagged the restaurant we visited so that I can find it again when I’m in the area again – which might not be for a few years. But obviously my note will likely be inaccessible by then. Facebook would be a tad better than 4sq simply because it’s so much bigger, more of my friends are there, and it’s been around for long enough that it’s not unlikely it’ll be around a few years more. But it’s also scary to think of Facebook getting even more of our data!

    I think for a tourist campaign using Foursquare or similar to work there’d have to be a strong campaign in other media as well to inform people that the service exists and encourage them to use it – perhaps giving them real-world rewards (the standard: a discount on X if you check in there) in return. Foursquare is free for consumers and if a tenth of us already have iPhones a reasonably large proportion of Norwegians driving around Norway this summer would probably be willing and able to install a free app to get some extra info en route.

  7. carl christian

    I think you’re right Jill, or at least, your arguments are good. And i would like to be able to agree.

    But the general public hates new social networks. Itís only us geeks that love all the innovation and new stuff. The rest are very happy with Facebook, and ask why they should bother to get an account at a new site, a new login, new password, new app, making the connections over again only for a few discounts.
    On the other hand we have the providers of the services, and I guess half of them still are asking if and how they should blog and use Facebook. One of the first questions to deal with talking to clients at Synlighet is what about all the people spamming, sharing rubbish and criticising. It takes quite some time and real time small-scale experience to calm these concerns. To ask them to pay for public, geo-tagged shared opinions of their services would be like insulting them.

    So: It’s a great idea, but we need a courageous service provider to test it, but we still lack the critical mass.

  8. Harald Brynlund-Lima

    RT @jilltxt: Toured the fjords with an empty Foursquare – I wish the Norwegian tourist board would launch a 4sq campaign! http://jilltxt.net/?p=2470

  9. B¯rge A. Roum

    Interesting. I’ve meant for a long time that the government should set up free wireless internet in all cities. Do you think such a move could have a positive impact on tourism? I’ve never thought of that aspect before.

  10. Carl Christian

    @IngunnR1 Mener #4square og #gowalla er veldig smalt pga alle stedene som ikke er opprettet enda. jmf også @jilltxt her: http://is.gd/eomTy

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