Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 13, 2010 02:40 PM
The venerable Four Seasons luxury hotel brand is going geo-social. A "Best of California" partnership with location-based mobile/web service Gowalla offers guests concierge recommendations while traveling, and allows them to earn hotel credits.
Gowalla "Passport" users will be eligible for up to $100 credit (amount varies slightly per location) for check-in at three recommended local spots. Concierge choices show up in a "Trip" tab on Gowalla; users check-in and receive a PIN number that's redeemable at Four Seasons spas or restaurants through Nov. 19.
Elizabeth Pizzinato, VP of brand communications for the Four Seasons group, commented that the hotel's "are [increasingly] participating in using social media tools. It's not just a younger demographic or somebody who is tech-savvy. People across all demographics and segments are using social media in various ways and very frequently."
The danger: social media-savvy consumers are getting geo-jaded.
The 10-week Four Seasons test is the fourth major partnership for Gowalla recently, following AT&T, Toms Shoes and CNN's John King, USA program.
Geo-social marketing abounds these days, spurred by last month's Facebook’s Places launch: Foursquare’s digital signage for American Eagle Outfitters in Times Square; Virgin’s Loopt taco-truck promotion; AT&T’s SCVNGR stunt with 50 stores across the Midwest; and Jive Records' artist Miguel’s deal with Whrrl, rewarding fans who came to his Las Vegas show on Labor Day.
"Facebook is such a dominant force and a market leader in so many things," says Four Seasons' Pizzinato. "It's really interesting they are getting involved in something that was started by smaller players in the marketplace. I think it's a really good indication that [location-based marketing] is only going to continue to grow in importance."
As for Gowalla, “Our community members are passionate about discovering new places, so we’re happy to be working with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to provide curated trip recommendations from their knowledgeable concierges,” says Andy Ellwood, director of business development.
To be sure, the stakes have been raised, and it's not just enough for a brand to partner with a mobile check-in service, as competition is fierce and consumers are getting geo-jaded. As the Hotel Chatter blog notes, this Four Seasons deal follows a "brief lackluster" geo-deal between Gowalla and IHG Hotels.
While consumers may have no reservations about virtual check-ins, the incentives have be sufficient to merit their participation.