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“Checking in” at a retailer or service provider is getting more valuable than ever, with more companies rewarding customers who do no more than simply walk inside a particular location.

Most recently, Mashable reported that Virgin America is the first airline to offer frequent-flyer points in exchange for checking into the airline’s airport terminals or baggage claims, courtesy of Topguest, which is a start-up platform tied to Facebook Places and Foursquare.

This follows on the heels of an application called Shopkick, which offers customers points called “kickbucks” for entering a store or making purchases, which can then be used to redeem for gift cards, music downloads, or credits towards Facebook games. Retailer Target recently signed with Shopkick, which already has Best Buy and Macy’s on board.

A third startup, Checkpoints, recently partnered with Kmart to offer a similar concept — customers can earn points for check-ins as well as when product barcodes are scanned at checkout. The mobile app is currently only available on the iPhone but an Android version is apparently in the works.

The question is, is this just a fad being offered to draw attention as a “forward-thinking” loyalty provider? Or is it a rewards model that has legs? Only time will tell whether location-sharing can truly be tied to loyalty or whether customers will simply boost dummy check-ins to try and beat the system — and whether companies will be able to keep up with customers who try to “work” the rewards. Still, this is a trend worth watching, as it ties into trends we see as key moving forward into the new decades, including the “localism” aspect of check-ins as well as customers who demand rewards for relating to companies on this hyper-local level.

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Latest posts by Sharon Goldman
Sharon Goldman
In her role as Senior Editor, Sharon writes and edits stories for COLLOQUY magazine. She helps develop future communications and research initiatives, and also works on white papers and thought leadership content for other lines of business within LoyaltyOne.
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