I love the idea of using foursquare to allow merchants to reward their customers via recognition (an updated version, kind of, of things like the picture wall at a local bar, or, on the more permanent end of the spectrum, the portraits painted on the walls of The Palm steakhouses). There is something very powerful about rewarding people with recognition rather than (or in addition to) outright cash. Not to mention - this is an interesting distribution channel: people who don’t know about foursquare can see it in action, and they are probably more drawn to it because of the possibility to be recognized.
Some other ideas that would drive off of a similar idea
- Displaying the venue’s current leaderboard (the modern-day equivalent of the standings on the pinball machine in your local restaurant/bar?) - gets people into the game aspect of foursquare. Could also modify this to be a part of the intial idea: “Everybody, say hi to your new friend jake…but watch out, he’s now #3 on the leaderboard!”
- I would imagine venues that install this are already on the foursquare train, so might be cool to show specials (and/or badges) as they get unlocked, e.g. “Jake just got a free round of appetizers for checking in! stop by his table and see if he’ll share.” I understand that part of the idea of this hack is to take some of the pressure off of discounts as the primary driver of engagement, but I do think that for many users, unlocking a special or badge feels like an achievement that could be shared, while checking in (in and of itself) doesn’t necessarily).
I am a huge fan of our new “Welcome” screen visualization that came out of the @foursquare hack day a couple weeks back, and can’t wait to see this up and running at real restaurants, coffeeshops and bars in the near future. There are a number of interesting studies which demonstrate that *recognition* is actually a significantly better driver of customer loyalty than discounts, and screens like this give local businesses dynamic tools to recognize their customers in fun, easy-to-implement ways.