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Foursquare has over 6 million users and over 381 million check-ins, but very few DMO’s are using the using the geo-location service to boost tourism. Explore Chicago was the first to really get involved with Foursquare, and since then, only a handful of DMO’s have joined.

Foursquare has over 6 million users and over 381 million check-ins, but very few DMO’s are using the using the geo-location service to boost tourism. Explore Chicago was the first to really get involved with Foursquare, and since then, only a handful of DMO’s have joined.

Most cities are listed on Foursquare and have plenty of helpful tips, but very few are marketed as a brand. To make sure visitors are getting the most out of the city, DMO’s need to help visitors get off the beaten track and discover the heart of the city. They can keep an eye on the quality of information and even create fun city-specific badges and games. Ultimately, they can add value to the tourism experience and reclaim their brand.

Here are a few Destination Marketing Organizations who are taking full advantage of Foursquare:

Explore Chicago

Chicago Tourism is awesome because they created three Chicago-themed badges. To unlock Chicago Blues, check in at 5 blues-inspired locations. To unlock Celery Salt, visit 5 hotdog vendors. To unlock On Location (this is the best one), first choose from 5 movies filmed in Chicago. If you pick Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which most people probably do, you’ll need to check in at 5 of the movie’s famous locations.

VisitPA

Like Chicago, they dreamed up a few city-specific badges for visitors to unlock. On February 2nd, over 27,846 people worldwide shouted “groundhog” and unlocked the “PA Groundhog Day” badge. To show off your Pennsylvania pride, you can also earn the Shooflyer, Retail Polka and PA 4 Score & 7 badges.

Tourism Queensland

Tourism Queensland isn’t currently offering any badges, but last year they had an awesome “Shine Seeker” badge. If you checked in at 5 of the recommended spots, you were entered to win one of two vacation packages in Cairns. Only a few Foursquare badges are unlockable outside the US and Canada, so this was a big deal. What’s also awesome is that they gave out a real-life badge to the first 50 people checking in. Geeky, but cool.

In Europe, where Smartphone usage is the highest, Tourism Boards are just starting to create their own branded Foursquare pages. Last September, Yorkshire Tourism was the European DMO to join, followed by Visit Tuscany in December.

Harnessing the power of local knowledge isn’t a new marketing technique, but for some reason DMO’s have yet to embrace Foursquare. Even in the United States, where Foursquare is more common, it’s still rare for a DMO to have a branded page. How rare, you ask? A few weeks ago, Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau sent out a press release announcing it’s one of four DMO’s in the nation to receive a branded page. That’s rare.

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