Location Based Campus Tours with Gowalla

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 01-28-2010

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Let me start by saying this is NOT going to be a blog post telling you to run to Foursquare and Gowalla because it’s the hottest thing since Twitter and you’re definitely going to want to invest all of your time and resources there. Because that’s not the case (yet?).

Gowalla, my preferred location based social network, has intrigued colleges and universities for months with its ‘Trips’ section of the site.  Trips provide a list of suggested spots for you to go to, and was previously a list up to the discretion of the Gowalla team.    It might be 5 famous restaurants in an area, or 10 great photography lookouts on the shore, or a bar crawl in Austin.  But until now, it’s been a headache trying to submit yours to the site.

That changed today.

According to the post, “You’ll be able to name your trip, give it a description, add up to 20 spots of your choosing, then publish it to Gowalla. Your published trips will be viewable in the Gowalla app by your friends. [...] Also, for now, you may only complete featured trips and trips created by your friends.”

I’m excited for this, particularly for one BlueFuego client that happens to have a very saturated population of iPhone users on its campus. I see value for First Week/Orientation, for visitors, and much more. But again, it works for some schools and will be extremely pointless for others. And if you create a trip for your university at this time, the only people who can see it are your friends. This might create a future headache of multiple tours of campus once everything is merged publicly.

Take a good look at your audience before investing too much time in these platforms.  But if you want to have some fun and try the newest toy, check out Gowalla or Foursquare today!

Comments posted (10)

BJW,

I love you, but I have to throw the old disagree on this one for most cases.

First, Gowalla/foursquare is only fun if you use Gowalla/foursquare. Being the mayor/founder/creator of locations has about as much meaning to non-users as monopoly money has in the real world.

Second, Gowalla doesn’t allow for extra information from users. The creators restrict the titles and descriptions. I think foursquare gains some big points with the ability for users to add tips. Think about it. For example, imagine the food court was a location on Gowalla. It might have a brief description (official or unofficial), but in that description it can’t be detailed what is good. On foursquare users have the ability to add their own insider’s look. “Watch out for the tilapia on Tuesdays. Gross.” I really think that Gowalla should never be a standalone tour, but be a supplement to it because you can’t hear the details about the significance of the buildings, etc.

I do think Gowalla is doing some great things, especially with their recent improvements to the mobile site. I know we talk about this all the time, but I really think that more than the app craze, universities should be focusing on web-based, mobile sites that are universally accessible and not restricted to specifics platforms or operating systems. Sure, application downloads are up, but greater than that, is the time users spend accessing the internet through their phones.

Really though, I am probably just jealous that you’re getting more international check-ins than me. :)

Thanks for the post. I’m a big fan of Gowalla, although for University marketing/web types doesn’t FourSquare hold the advantage? To enter a location in Gowalla, you have to actually be standing there, meaning I’ll have to get out of me chair and mark each locale individually. Even the thought of moderate exercise has me wheezing and out of breath. :-)

Haha! Ironically, it’s the reason why I like Gowalla over FourSquare.

PS – you can create locations from your office, then edit them on gowalla.com and drag the pin to where it needs to be ;)

We’ve been considering (and speaking with Gowalla about) using Trips to compliment our current campus tour. While users are visiting various spots, they can check in and socially broadcast to their friends on Facebook/Twitter that they are on campus. We’ll also add more locations to the trip, which will (hopefully) encourage exploration of campus.

And don’t forget, anyone under 18 taking a campus tour is violating Gowalla’s TOS…

6. Eligibility
This Service is intended solely for Users who are eighteen (18) years of age or older, and any registration, use or access to the Service by anyone under 18 is strictly prohibited and in violation of this Agreement.

From a ‘very saturated population of iPhone [and iPod Touch] users who are soon-to-be fully saturated. Game on. Todd, many thanks for pointing out the TOC. I’d like to see the GoWalla team revisit that with their legal team.

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And don’t forget, anyone under 18 taking a campus tour is violating Gowalla’s TOS…

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