As many of you know, this past year I have been blogging and social media-ing for the Regione Toscana’s tourism campaign. One of the things I’ve liked about this job has been keeping up with the latest social news and geek tools. Earlier this year we started fiddling with Gowalla and Foursquare. On Gowalla we made a Florence Itinerary but there was no way to do it as a company, just as a personal user. With Foursquare, we found a way to promote our territory as a group. So: Visit Tuscany is the first Italian tourism board to have a branded presence on Foursquare on which members of the region’s social media team provide tips to help travelers discover the best of Tuscany’s places, food, and art.
Foursquare is a location-based service and game that allows individual users to “check in” to places via a mobile application and receive tips – and sometimes special offers – for that location. Foursquare offers select institutions (from the History Channel to the New York Times) a customized branded page that users can “follow” to get tips and sometimes win badges.
The potential of branded pages for tourism was recognized early on by Explore Chicago, the first DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) to partner with Foursquare back in February 2010. They were followed by Visit PA in May of the same year; the first in Europe was Welcome to Yorkshire (September 1 2010).
Visit Tuscany launched its Foursquare page on October 1 2010, making it the first DMO in Italy to have one, and one of the first 10 in the world. Says Michela Simoncini, one of the channel’s administrators and a member of the social media team:
“We are constantly looking for new ways to interact with our visitors. Foursquare is pretty new in Italy but we’re all “tech geeks” here in the office and we see a lot of potential in the app. We hope that the tips we’re adding on Foursquare can help steer tourists towards the artistic and gastronomic excellencies of our region.”
Foursquare has a captive audience with the growing worldwide market of smartphone users – 29.7% in the USA and 28% in Italy according to recent Nielsen data; 4.5 million of these are already on Foursquare, and the Visit Tuscany team expects to see numbers in Italy (where it is still very much a niche market) grow quickly.
As of December 2010, Visit Tuscany has 1600 followers on its branded page and people have “done” 300 of the tips, from sampling street food in Florence to looking at Renaissance frescoes in Arezzo.
Source: I wrote this press release for Visit Tuscany using information gathered for my talk at the recent Girl Geek Dinners Toscana.