Boosting Loyalty Programs via Location Based Services.
By Vijay Dandapani
Wednesday, 30th June 2010
VentureBeat, a website that 'provide news about innovation for forward-thinking executives' has a story on a hot new virtual intermediary promises to be the bridge between burgeoning location based services and loyalty programs by supplementing rather than competing with the latter.

Somewhat aptly named, Topguest, the New York City based start-up aims to connect the loyalty programs hotels and airlines have with various (virtual) check-in services like Foursquare and more quizzically named sites like Gowalla and Loopt.

VentureBeat notes that Topguest† "is going for a niche market and making a bet the travel industry will venture into the location space using its product."

The first hotel company to go along with the bet is (as of now) four city based Standard Hotels which promises guests of Topguest a free week at one of its hotels subject to a somewhat imposing travel regimen.

The "free" week comes about if a "Topguest" customer checks in on any supported geolocation application and stays in all four Standard hotels (situated in Hollywood, New York, Downtown Los Angeles and Miami Beach) within one week. If the mere thought of such extensive travel induces a severe bout of travelitis there is also the option of getting 25% off the next reservation after 10 check-ins at any Standard hotel, bar or restaurant.

Other location based rewards include spa treatments, boutique discounts, and cocktails. Topguest has also signed up three other top loyalty programs as well to be announced later in the summer.

Topguest could be on the cusp of the next big wave for steering loyalty marketing both hotels and airlines besides more quotidian stuff like cappuccinos and even spa treatment.

Guests "checking-in" virtually can have highly targeted promos from hotels to steer them in the "right" direction and, very importantly, help make the travel industry become location-smart and improve the way they communicate with their customers.

And with Facebook predicting (somewhat self-servingly) that the entire advertising industry will revolve, before long, around social media, the need to communicate effectively, instantly and continually is paramount to survival both in the short and long run.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

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