Companies can partner with Gowalla to reward check-ins randomly with chances to win a prize or, even if you didn’t win, a discount coupon. This is different from Foursquare’s marketing programs with companies like Starbucks of rewarding users who are “Mayors” (people who check-in to a location the most).
…when a person checks in through Gowalla at any U.S.-based Best Buy or Apple Store, they’ll automatically have a chance to win a free 4 GB Eye-Fi card. A message will pop up on their screen about the card post check-in. And a simple click on the “Did I win?” button below that message will reveal if you’re a winner of the $75 card the spot. There will be 500 winners for this particular promotion.
But even if you don’t win, the check-in grants you access to a coupon code for one year’s worth of free hotspot access if you do choose to purchase an Eye-Fi card.
The weaknesses of Foursquare’s “Mayor” discounts are two-fold:
1. Employees are often the Mayors of their stores: How can you offer a discount to the Mayor of your store if the Mayor isn’t even a customer? If customers feel like they can’t actually achieve the discount what’s the point? That’s why any company that works with Foursquare has to have an Employee Foursquare Policy that discourages employees from checking in.
2. As a user if I know I’ll never be the Mayor I sometimes don’t bother to check-in: Let’s say Best Buy has a deal with Foursquare to reward Mayors with discounts. If I don’t go to Best Buy often I know I’ll never be the Mayor so I probably won’t check-in on Foursquare. However, if the reward is a random check-in on Gowalla I will definitely do so. This increases my chance of winning something and will also get users in the habit of using Gowalla more.
Props to Team Gowalla. If they can get more companies to sign on to this type of program it could be a windfall of positive press and increased adoption by users.