Merging geolocation check-ins with frequent traveler programs was a logical evolutionary step in the location-based social networking development. Seen as a necessary evil by hotels and airlines to operate on a competitive playing field, the frequent traveler programs that were introduced over thirty years are now adapting to today's technological advancements.
Last century's "Road Warrior" has morphed into "Mobile Man" - a modern-day demographic who chooses to 'have smartphone, will travel,' make decisions on the go, and access frequent traveler programs in a more expeditious manner.
TopQuest is responding to the needs of this new traveler by offering a location-based check-in service which accesses loyalty points for check-ins at hotels. According to Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb, "it functions as a sort of middle-man between travel rewards programs and users of location-based and social networking services including Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Twitter and Facebook."
Facebook's entry into the mix coincided with its launch of Facebook Places this past week. The new wrinkle is that the Facebook check-ins will allow Topguest members to able to check-in to a venue via Facebook Places and automatically receive the associated rewards with that that location, without any additional effort on their part. This feature while only available in the U.S. presently alleviates a lot of the registration requirements of having to sign up for frequent traveler programs in the past.
Although Topguest was just recently launched a couple of months ago, it has already signed up the Viceroy Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels (Holiday Inns, Indigo Hotels & Crowne Plazas) and Andre Balazs' Standard Hotels and the SoHo & Tribeca Grand in NYC.
Topguest users can receive rewards from these hotels that include 50 Priority Points for check-ins at any Holiday Inn, Crowe Plaza, Intercontinental or Hotel Indigo property, 20% off food, drink or spa at the Viceroy Hotels or room discounts at the Standard Hotels.
While Facebook continues to face privacy issues, some Topguest members may be hesitant to use Places as their point of entry - and may instead rely on Foursquare, Gowalla or one of the other location-based services that offer a tighter control of privacy settings for its users. However, Facebook has become a lot more cognizant of its users' sensitivity to privacy settings and has put some additional restrictions into play that may alleviate some of this concern (see my previous post, titled, "Social Media Monopoly Will Not Let You Pass Go On Facebook Places Without Permission")
Location-based services has prompted all users to re-examine the old definitions of privacy. While most of us are still very concerned about using any of these services less we allow our lives to become an "open book," others feel that if you are willing to accept the new technology because of its incentives and ease of access, then you should not be leary of giving up some of your privacy to your friends and followers.
Today's "Mobile Man" is the new demographic that believes these benefits far outweigh the risk - and subsequently want to be rewarded accordingly.