Posts Tagged ‘foursquare’


Next Stop for Bus Tours of London: Foursquare Checkins

In United Kingdom on August 13, 2011 by katielancos Tagged: , ,

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.


Kolumbus: Norway’s Social Bus Network

In Norway on June 18, 2011 by Erika S. Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

In 2007, buses transported more than 290 million passengers over a staggering 2.3 billion miles in Norway. With buses being a primary source of transportation, it didn’t take long for a transit company to consider reinventing the rather boring experience of public transportation. Kolumbus, a leading transit provider that covers over 2,800 routes in Rogaland County, has set out to socialize the mass transit experience through its adoption of quick response “QR” code technology.

Before we get started, here’s a little nugget of information about QR codes: Born in Japan way back in 1994, QR codes are those robotic-looking, two-dimensional barcodes supported by smart phones; upon being scanned, the code redirects the user to a company’s website and displays information. While Japan uses them extensively in almost every industry, it has taken nearly two decades for QR codes to invade the West.

Now back to Norway…

Kolumbus recently launched a campaign aimed at providing the most accurate bus arrival and departure information by embedding an estimated 4,500 QR codes at over 1,200 bus stations across Norway. The codes allow passengers with smart phones to track buses in real-time using geospatial technology. With millions of people relying on public transportation for their day-to-day activities, QR codes could prove to be invaluable when it comes to time management, and may become an essential part of life in Norway. But Kolumbus didn’t stop there…

The transit company teamed up with Tales of Things, a research project exploring social memory in the Internet age, to create a location-based social network with elements of foursquare and Facebook. Here’s basically how it works: You’re at a bus station waiting for your bus to arrive, you scan the QR code posted at the station to check for the exact arrival time and notice you have a few minutes to spare. You then log on to Tales of Things to peruse previous passengers’ messages, pictures, tips, stories, etc. that they posted while waiting in the same spot, which may or may not entice you to chime in and begin sharing also. Just think, you can leave a sweet message for a loved one or embark on a scavenger hunt with friends! Oh, and because each QR code is unique to its location, each message, picture, tip, story, etc. provides an endless adventure and an unprecedented way to socialize in a public transportation setting. Pretty neat, right?

Integrating the underutilized QR code technology while promoting socialization on public transit systems via social media is truly a revolutionary and unorthodox approach to social media marketing. Although some may find it pointless, I find this a rather fascinating way to get people interested in connecting with those who are sharing the same journey as them.

Passenger shares his bus ride in Norway.

For marketers hoping to create buzz for a brand via social media, incorporating relevant issues of society (time management, in this case) can help ignite a newfound interest in the brand and get people engaged in exciting new ways — isn’t that what every company wants?

This Norwegian model is one that can be replicated a thousand times over across the world; which has me wondering: why did it take so long for someone to promote the interconnectedness of public transportation? Just imagine this Norwegian approach to public transit in Washington, D.C.! Hey, I’m even thinking this could inspire people to be friendlier! I mean, Norway is considered the happiest country on earth. We can clearly learn a thing or two from the Norwegians! I have hope for you, D.C.! Anything is possible!