How would you add simple value to mobile check-in?

Many of you use or have heard about mobile check-in applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla (the two most popular)
I am a user and have also been reading many posts about the subject. It feels like the next big thing, every other mainstream tool wants to integrate with geolocation but the truth is that the purpose behind checking-in is merely “fun” at the moment.
Loz from Simply Zesty wrote last year about the boring Foursquare “free coffee” wave and sites like Techcrunch have added some value trying to uncover the future of this service throwing 100 integration ideas.
I am very practical, the way I see (and hopefully many people too) deep value in any check-in service is when, “besides fun”, I could actually complement daily activities. Here are five examples:

Doctor’s appointment

What about arriving at reception, checking-in through my mobile and getting a confirmation (through the same app or email), including an estimated waiting time to be seen by the doctor?


Replicating the web experience

You walk into a shop anywhere in the world and you like what you see. Then you would check-in and the app would prompt you with the question: Would you like to receive email updates from X shop?
This is a magnificent way to increase a business’ email database offline!  Imagine the amount of people that maybe would have never interacted with the person behind the counter but simply stepped in/out and left their email address?

Petrol station

I would checking-in at the petrol station of choice (That instantly gives me extra points to redeem on petrol or other prizes). Then the application would ask me how many litres of petrol will I purchase? The transaction is fulfilled through Paypal or any secure payment app and a code will be instantly generated to enter at the pump.
This is a great idea for the “check-in” app to monetise through a small percentage of the transaction.

Fast food restaurant

Upon arrival I check-in and the app would show me the deals of the day. If I choose to buy though the app, I would of course collect unique points towards free food or other prizes and will get the meal at a discounted price.
Again, another way for the application to monetise through transactions.

Checking out

There’s also value for checking out in specific locations/activities/events. The obvious advantage is that the application could give you the option to complete a very quick, multiple-choice, survey (The company could give away cool incentives in exchange). Also, the organiser could clearly measure the length of time that a person spent at that event/activity, like a website!

What do you think about these ideas? How would you use mobile check-in to your advantage? What opportunity do you see in mobile check-in as a manager/business owner?



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Comments ( 5 )
  • iancleary says:

    Hi Fred,

    I like the one for the doctors appointment. It made me think of the passport office or driving license office where you checkin instead of getting your ticket.

    The problem with the likes of foursquare is that there are too many applications for normal people to keep on top of. When facebook introduce checkins similar to this foursquare will have real difficulty surviving. I'm sure facebook thought whether they would buy foursquare or just replicate the functionality. Replicating was easier!

  • Channelship says:

    I like the passport office or driving license examples!
    I wouldn't pay a lot of attention to the thousands of location based apps out there. There's always room to create one that provides masive value through simplicity (down to earth examples we were talking about).
    In the next 3 to 5 years, eveybody will have a customised touch-screen phone that will use as a real “swiss knife” to complement / improve many or the daily activities. This is where geolocation should aim besides points, coupons, discounts and fun badges 🙂

  • Gprasad says:

    H Fred,

    Fantastic ideas. To bring to reality one has very few choices. We have been that route and discovered that developing apps for all mobile phones is a tedious and risky process. Check-out our new tool iCube ( to solve the issue.

    But real question is, these are consumer experience apps, who updates the data to make these apps valube? etc. Last thing a user wants is, after checking for a low cost fuel, which gives him/her only 2-3 choices, than soon he/she will loose interest in such apps. it is a real problem.

    Guru Prasad

  • Jamie Beckland says:

    Hi Fred,nThanks for your comment on my Social Media Examiner article. A couple of thoughts:nnFor the most part, you are incentivizing behavior that your customers are already doing. I would encourage experimenting with check-ins that drive deeper engagement or into a new targeted area of activity.nnAlso, I think it’s dangerous to over-technologize solutions. If you’re already at the doctor’s office, the receptionist is going to have more reliable information about the wait time than any app.nnYour suggestion for opting in to email marketing is good – the challenge I see there is that the order is backward. It’s tough to get someone to check in to a location with no prior relationship, unless you are a hip bar/restaurant/hang out. But driving people from email and social, into location, is a great option.nnLooking forward to hearing more of your ideas!

  • Channelship says:

    Thanks very much Jamie for taking the time to comment. Following your blog now 🙂

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