Redeeming Foursquare special offers: my experience

Did you know that Foursquare collaborates with businesses to list official special offers on its venue pages? Yah, they do, and best of all, it’s free for businesses to participate.

The concept of real world businesses providing a tangible incentive to Foursquare users (who normally receive just a virtual reward) intrigued me, so I set out on a mission to redeem a few Foursquare special offers on my own.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Carrabba’s

My first experience occurred at Carrabba’s in Glendale, where I am, indeed, the not-so-mighty Mayor on Foursquare.

Upon checking in on the Foursquare Android app, I was greeted with a special offer screen that looked like the following image (taken from the Foursquare website).


Free dessert for the mayor? Yessir, I’ll take it, thankaverymuch.

I kept the foursquare special offer screen in focus on my Motorola Droid and set the phone aside for later.

After finishing our meal, I asked our waitress if she had heard of the Foursquare Mayor free dessert promotion. I then showed her the special offer info on my phone, but she had never heard of it. She said that she would have to get a manager, so we waited while she called a manager over to our table.

Getting shot down… sort of

When the manager arrived, she said something like “these kind of things always go up online and then Carrabba’s takes them down quickly and it’s probably a scam.”

Wow… really? I was shocked, but the experience didn’t end badly. Even though she didn’t believe the promotion was legitimate, the manager said she would honor it anyway, so we wound up with a free dessert.

I reported the incident to @Carrabbas and they later followed up with me on Twitter and email, exhibiting excellent customer service.

When I returned to Carrabba’s a second & third time, I had no problems whatsoever redeeming the Foursquare special offer. I suspect someone at corporate called the Glendale location and asked them to educate all employees on the Foursquare promotion. Well done, Carrabba’s.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Monti’s La Casa Vieja

The second location where I redeemed a Foursquare special offer was at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe.

Tera and I were enjoying the beautiful Arizona weather, hanging with our friends Jake and Mandy at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. When I mentioned the Monti’s 5 cent drink Foursquare special offer, our friends could hardly believe it.

We huffed it down to the end of Mill Ave, where Tera and I checked in on Foursquare before entering Monti’s. As we checked in, the Foursquare special offer splashed to life on our screens, which looked like the image below (again, taken from the Foursquare website).


We scuttled on over to the bar area, where Jake and Mandy tried to check-in on Foursquare to join in on the special offer fun. Oops, no service inside the building (thanks AT&T).

When our waitress arrived, I asked her if she was aware of the Foursquare promotion. Nope! She had no idea what I was talking about. She took our orders, presumably spoke with management and then came back to ask me how many of us had checked in on Foursquare. Tera got a glass of wine for 5 cents, I got a tasty Four Peaks draft beer for 5 cents.

Five cent drinks FTW!

Foursquare special offers final thoughts

Providing tangible rewards for Foursquare users is a very smart business move and a compelling incentive to get more people using Foursquare. A win-win for the business and Foursquare.

Like anything new, the Foursquare special offer redemption process will be bumpy at first. The best thing that a business can do to ensure a smooth process is to make sure that all of their staff is aware of the Foursquare special offer, once they start running one.

Foursquare might not be mainstream quite yet, but the folks who are using it are tech-savvy, vocal, ahead-of-the-pack power users. Adding a free Foursquare special offer for your business will attract these people as well as increase awareness and conversations about your business. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity.

Tips on redeeming a Foursquare special offer

Check-in before entering a business, to avoid wireless service issues indoors.
Don’t expect the staff to be aware of the Foursquare special offer, or even know what Foursquare is.
Keep the special offer image & text available on your phone to show the staff, if needed.
Be polite and ask the staff to check with management if they need further direction.
If you run into a problem, follow-up with a higher up (manager, owner, corporate office) to get things ironed out.

More resources on Foursquare

Learn more about Foursquare for businesses (official site).
10 Ways a Small Business can Leverage Foursquare by Joe Manna
Local Search Marketing using Foursquare by Chuck Reynolds