Droopy-eyed and half-conscious, I finally arrived at Heathrow airport Thursday morning after a long flight across the Atlantic. While waiting to meet up with a friend who I will be staying with, I moseyed my way on over to the concierge desk to pick up some pamphlets and maps. He introduced me to “Bus Tours of London”, a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour hitting all of London’s major tourist attractions. Though intrigued, I did not sign up on the spot, and rather kept the pamphlet to ponder this decision some more.
While planning out my few days of freedom in the big city, I continued to think about this bus tour.
I am a Foursquare dork – and I will embarrassingly admit that I saw each of those bus stops as different venues for me to checkin to, rack up points, collect badges, let my friends back home know where I was, and most importantly, keep a log of my travels.
I then thought – why wouldn’t a company like this actually promote the use of a location-based social network like Foursquare?
Bus Tours of London’s business model is made for a game like Foursquare. Travelers get on and off buses, visit attractions, and share with their friends the things they are doing.
It would be a smart move for Bus Tours of London to be using foursquare in their tours and to promote their business for many reasons:
Tourists have smartphones…
London is the second most visited city by tourists in the world, and there is a significant part of that audience using smartphones. Many of those tourists are coming from the EU, U.S., and Australia, where their smartphone penetration are all respectively above 30%.
…and many are using Foursquare.
Last June, Foursquare hit 10 million users worldwide. Since Bus Tours of London’s audience would be made up of mostly tourists, all of these 10 million users could potentially be part of their audience.
London is no stranger to Foursquare.
Many London brands are on Foursquare. The History Channel, for example, set up a brand page on Foursquare allowing people to checkin to London attractions, get facts about its history, and earn badges along the way (their page currently has 225,603 followers). The tourist attractions where Bus Tours of London would stop are all on Foursquare as well. The great Buckingham Palace hits high with 7,826 checkins. Other top attractions include the London Eye (6,523), Picadilly Circus (7,026), Hyde Park (7,209), and Big Ben (3,712).
Foursquare is free to use.
It is free for both Bus Tours of London and their audience to use Foursquare. They could ask their visitors to checkin to attractions and give a shoutout to Bus Tours of London each time, or use a hashtag to indicate who they are with, and promote this fact on their maps. This would also give Bus Tours of London the opportunity to track who is using their service, thank them for their patronage, and even hold contests and reward users.
Advertising services around town like in the airport is a good tactic, as I did listen when the concierge told me about this program. But what was my initial answer to him? “Let me ask my friend first.” The rules of advertising have changed, and people more and more turn to their social networks for advice. Every time a rider tweets, checks in, or posts to Facebook, that is free advertising for you. Encouraging bus riders to push out content about your company to their network will increase online visibility – and credibility.