Have you ever played the game scavenger, where you are given a list of items to retrieve from any place possible and be the first to return all the items? Or perhaps you have been a fan of the TV series, The Amazing Race. Teams race around the world, do tasks and try to be the first to check in at a designated spot. Those are the simple and the extravagant geo-locating games with which we have experience.
Welcome to the age of the smart phone and you can add the fun and art of geo-locating to your next event. Of the most popular geo-centric website companies, there are three very well known ones (at least, well known to the tech savvy.) Internet start-up scvngr” was one of the first connection based games used for events. The Boston based company started with text messaging giving clues and check in points where you sent a text back to the source once you found the solution for the next clue. The smart phone has taken them to a totally new level. They have worked with institutions such as Princeton University where they run freshman orientation events to help get the students familiar with the campus and traditions of the university. One of their early promotions was for a jewelry store which gave away a diamond ring to the winner and had people racing around St. Cloud Minnesota to find the clues and solutions. It was extremely popular as an advertising spot for the jeweler and made the local news.
Other geo-centric web portals are Foursquare where the visitor signs into a location and signs in via a facebook like social network. Started in New York City Foursquare became famous as local establishments set up rewards for the Mayor (the person who visits and signs in to the location the most). There are other badge awards with specific prices for those levels as well. It is up to the merchant or location to determine how they want to use Foursquare.
Gowalla is another geo-centric site linked this time with photographs of your favorite spots. This site will be merged into Facebook at the end of January 2012. It has been a great spot to log photos and make recommendations to people based on your experiences and travels. Started by two young entrepreneurs who just wanted a place to share great adventures with friends and family the site has blossomed into a repository for fantastic photographs. As founder Josh Williams puts it “The Gowalla Passport has become a record of all the places we?ve visited the people we were with the photos we took and the stories we told. Many of you even use Gowalla like a scrapbook of sorts ? a place to keep all those memories.”
These sites have looked to businesses to use the online experience to enhance their branding and have some fun at the same time. The old axiom of “If you entertain the audience they will stay with you learn and show some loyalty” is always true. Think of the possibilities for you. Combine this idea with check in points at let’s say a conference. You can start off with a simple check-in spot where a logo branded Tee-shirt is given to each person. To continue they need to wear the Tee-shirt and proceed to the next check-in. Then as the game progresses each check in point gives away fewer but more enticing items until at the final location which happens to be in a prominent place the winner gets the top prize. All this time your custom branded merchandise is being paraded around the show for everyone to see. Wouldn’t that be cool? And then think if it is a two-day game. The interest would be contagious.