Over the last few years, one of the most popular websites related to the travel industry has been Foursquare. The social networking website, which is primarily aimed at users of mobile devices, has achieved a very significant following of reportedly 45 million users since it was founded in March, 2009. Foursquare has been focused on providing a location-based sharing application, with its function of offering regular users ‘mayorships’ influencing video games such as the recent ‘Watch Dogs’.
Foursquare announces radical shake-up
But a recent announcement means that is all about to change. After five years of gamifying and location-based sharing, Foursquare is making the biggest change to its functionality in its short history. From now on, Foursquare will operate as a recommendation service, intended to rival other mobile players in this field.
This follows on from the recent announcement that Foursquare would be splitting its main application into two separate parts. Swarm would hitherto deal with social location sharing, while the Foursquare application would be based around personalised location recommendations. Swarm has performed reasonably well since it was initially set up in terms of downloads, and on the back of this the developers have now decided to completely change the look of the Foursquare app.
Aside from the alteration in functionality, Foursquare has also been completely redesigned aesthetically. The new Foursquare has a completely new look, with a vivid and attractive blue and pink colour scheme at the centre of its rejigged appearance. The Foursquare app also attempts to engage with users immediately by offering them a number of ‘tastes’ which may be to their particular preference; similar to the Beats app, but focused on food instead of music.
The 'Beats' of eating out
On first glance, the new Foursquare greatly resembles a food restaurant blog, except that it offers users a great deal of interactivity. With the content of the application having been split up into categories, as users browse through the Foursquare app, they are presented with recommendations from a wide variety of different areas. These suggestions are based on the recommendations that have been given to the Foursquare app, and the more users browse the application, the more intimately it gets to know your personal preferences.
Aside from the automatically generated searches that pop up when the Foursquare app is opened, users can also generate their own searches. Once these appear on the screen of users’ mobile devices, there are a variety of options too filter the results, including a map-based ability to list results by location and proximity to user. Other factors taken into consideration with regard to recommendations include the number of sign-ins that users have instigated at various locations, comparison of users’ data related to Foursquare friends, and the rating of restaurants from other Foursquare users.
In addition to the ability to follow your everyday friends and acquaintances, Foursquare also gives uses the opportunity to follow one of its many prestigious launch partners. Publications such as TimeOut, the Washington Post and the LA Times have partnered with the application, meaning that you don't have to base your notion of whether a restaurant is good or bad on the mere opinions of your peers. Full access to media critiques and reviews are available, and it is possible to build up your Foursquare preferences purely on the basis of such press coverage.
Foursquare to take on the Travel Industry
As mentioned previously, the new Foursquare app will be competing directly with other ratings and recommendations sites and apps. This is a growing and large marketplace, with the latest version of the TripAdvisor having already attracted around 3/4 billion users. TripAdvisor also generated $762 million of revenue in 2012. Given that the revenue of Yelp touched $250 million in 2013, this is a billion dollar market which Foursquare is attempting to tap into.
Foursquare will offer opportunities to many travel-related businesses, especially as the mobile industry continues to grow exponentially. Recent research has shown that almost all travellers use mobile devices while on holiday, and it is easy to envisage a highly competitive marketplace as mobile continues to boom.
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