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Hospitality Tests Geo-Location Waters

Facebook and Twitter may be the hottest social networking applications today, but geo-networking tools are beginning to gain some ground. Within the past few months, a number of companies have started testing the location-based waters in an effort to connect with guests and drive foot traffic.

"Through past experience, we've learned that our customers are spending a considerable amount of time using social media and mobile tools, increasingly incorporating them into their daily lives," says Brian Niccol, Pizza Hut's ( chief marketing officer. In August, Pizza Hut launched a national promotion that rewards Foursquare "Mayors," those who visit and check into a location the most within a 60 day period, with a free single order of breadsticks with the purchase of a large pizza. The promotion is currently planned to run throughout the end of the year.

"We see this promotion with Foursquare as a win-win situation; loyal, digital-savvy customers will be able to take advantage of a fun promo, while we hope to see a bump in repeat traffic from Mayors looking to take advantage of this offer," says Niccol.

In late July, Chili's Grill & Bar ( announced a limited-time offering that rewards Foursquare check-ins with a free order of chips and salsa at participating locations, which are demarcated on Foursquare with a "special offer" flag whenever a guest is within 200 yards of the restaurant. "With more than two million users and counting, Foursquare has given us a simple way to engage our tech-savvy brand fans," says Nicole Cochran, marketing director for Chili's Grill & Bar. "As social media trends continue to change the landscape of how we interact, Foursquare gives us an opportunity to connect with our guests while offering them this appetizer on the house."

Like its foodservice counterparts, the lodging industry is also getting in on the act. A partnership between InterContinental Hotels Group ( and Topguest ( will reward Priority Club members who opt into the platform with 50 loyalty points for each check-in at any one of the brands 4,400 global properties. Topguest is a platform that rewards travelers with loyalty points for check-ins on all of the major location-based service applications, such as Foursquare, Twitter, Gowalla, and more.

"Partnering with Topguest allows us to reward our members with Priority Club points each time they virtually check-in at an IHG hotel, whether it's for a good night's sleep, or for a coffee in the hotel's restaurant," says Lincoln Barrett, vice president, guest marketing and alliances, IHG. "We think it has the potential to further enhance loyalty with current and future guests."
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