There’s still some serious distance between the mobile and the physical worlds.
On a recent trip through Dallas, I experienced yet another disheartening disconnect.
As background, I must confess that I’m a diehard check-in user of Foursquare and have been since the app launched a few years back.
I used to get a charge out of earning a new badge for hitting a certain number of check-ins within a category, like road warrior kudos for passing through so many airports within a designated timeframe.
As the app has evolved into more of a local exploration and finding engine, so has my usage. I still catch the check-ins of my friends and family members who also still use it but it also acts as a personal, historical travel guide.
Since I travel a lot, the app serves as a permanent cookie crumb holder of places I’ve been. On a second visit to a particular city or country, I can easily review the specific places I checked in, like a coffee shop or restaurant, as a reminder of where to go (or not) again.
But this is not about Foursquare. It’s about the disconnect between worlds.
On a recent trip through Dallas, I checked in (both at the front desk and through Foursquare) at the Hilton Dallas Fort Worth Lakes Executive Conference Center, about 15 minutes from the airport.
I had stayed there before and Foursquare knew that, even if the person at the front desk didn’t.
The next day, I had to catch an early flight, so I headed down to the lobby for the hotel shuttle to the airport. I arrived at 6:15 a.m. and was informed the shuttle would leave at 6:30 a.m.
On my Foursquare check in that day, I received a “Loyalty Special” offering me a free buffet breakfast for my multiple check-ins at that hotel. “Thank you Hilton and Foursquare,” I thought.
With time for a quick bite before several hours of flying, I headed to the restaurant. Here's how it went:
6:16 a.m. “Hello, may I seat you?”
“Yes, thank you. I have a coupon for the buffet.” (I showed her my phone screen with the coupon.)
“I don’t know what that is.”
“It’s a coupon for the buffet breakfast, on Foursquare.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
6:17 a.m. “Have you heard of Foursquare? Someone at your hotel created this deal with them.”
“I don’t know what that is. I’ll go ask my manager.”
6:19 a.m. “My manager said to take it to the front desk.”
“But that defeats the purpose of the coupon on the phone. Look, it says right here on the coupon “Share this Special with Your Server to Redeem.”
“Let me go ask my manager again.”
6:22 a.m. “My manager said if you take it to the front desk, they can give you a coupon for the breakfast.”
“But this is a coupon.”
“We can’t take that kind of coupon. You need the one from the front desk.”
“May I speak with your manager? Is it the hotel manager or the restaurant manager?”
“Oh, it’s the restaurant manager. I’ll go get her.”
6:24 a.m. “I told my manager and she will be coming.”
6:26 a.m. “Do you know when your manager will be coming?”
“I’ll call her again.”
6:27 a.m. “Hello, I’m the manager. Can I help you?”
“Yes, have you heard of Foursquare?”
“Yes.” (“Success,” I am thinking)
6:28 a.m. “I have this loyalty coupon for a free buffet breakfast, see it on the screen?”
“Yes, you have to take it to the front desk to get a coupon.”
“Look, it says right here: Share this Special with Your Server to Redeem.”
“Yes, but you have to take it to the front desk to get a coupon.”
“But that sort of defeats the purpose of this coupon on the screen, doesn’t it?”
6:29 a.m. “I can go with you to the front desk, if you want.”
“No, but thank you. I no longer have time for breakfast. I have to catch the shuttle to the airport.”