VisitPA on Foursquare

As some of you may know, I recently went on a Geekcation in Chicago with Betsy Decillis. One of our goals was to work on an Explore Chicago Foursquare badge. The Chicago Office of Tourism has three custom badges: Chicago Blues, Celery Salt and On Location. We walked around the city, checking in at various venues to earn the On Location (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) badge. Sure, I’ve used social media to help plan vacations before but this was my first trip that required a social media strategy. And yes, I do realize how geeky that sounds.

The great thing about the badges is that we were seeing more than the usual attractions. I had never seen Calder’s Flamingo sculpture before but since it was a badge location, it was on our list. We truly explored Chicago that weekend.

As we were finishing up our badge checkins, we realized how incredibly fun and satisfying it was to work on a badge. What could have made it even more fun? Perhaps a google map of the eligible venue locations. Or maybe a special Foursquare itinerary geared to people like us. Surely there are others like us, right? We started to think about possible destinations for the next Geekcation. Of course New York and San Francisco were at the top of the list. And now there is one more to add: Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has become the first state to partner with Foursquare. Their three badges, PA Shooflyer, PA Retail Polka and PA 4 Score & 7, explore Pennsylvania’s culinary, shopping and cultural scenes. What I almost like even more than the badges is how Mickey Rowley, Deputy Secretary of Tourism, is encouraging venues across the state to get involved.

“We would like to see every Pennsylvania restaurant, retail store, historical site, and museum join Foursquare,” Rowley said. “The best part is that it doesn’t cost anything to add a location, plus it gives businesses a chance to reward customers who are checking in the most.”

The PA Shooflyer badge requires users to check in at 3 out of 50 eligible diners, cafes and restaurants.

You’ll likely work up an appetite as you wind your way through PA. Check-in 3 or more times at VisitPA’s recommended Foursquare venues as you dine throughout your visit and earn the exclusive PA Shooflyer. Pretty sweet, right? It’s the molasses.

The PA Retail Polka badge encourages shoppers to check in at 3 out of 21 retail locations.

Here in PA we love polka…and polka dot pashminas. Plus the sound of a shopping spree ringing up tax-free is music to our ears. Check-in to 3 or more of VisitPA’s recommended Foursquare shopping spots throughout the state and earn the exclusive PA Retail Polka Badge. Trust us, you’ll be seeing spots by then. Or wearing them.

And the PA 4 Score & 7 badge explores the rich history of the state with 29 eligible checkin venues.

The Keystone State is soaked in history. See how much of it you can unlock by checking-in to 3 or more of VisitPA’s recommended Foursquare history venues as you explore the state and earn the exclusive PA 4 Score & 7.

In addition to these Foursquare badges, VisitPA has six locations in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that use special QR codes for checkins.

Even if you’re not able to develop custom badges, there are still ways to incorporate Foursquare into your social media strategy:

  • Make sure your members/partners are listed on Foursquare
  • Add tips to encourage users to visit nearby venues
  • Educate your members about Foursquare (and social media in general)
  • Help members create Foursquare discounts or plan/host Foursquare meetups

Foursquare is not going away. How are you embracing it?


  1. That is awesome. I traveled to Chicago this past weekend and had a blast. Part of the fun was the use of FourSquare. I was the only person in our 15 person group that used it so I became the discount hero at Harry Carey’s and a few other places.

    A few bars gave out free shots with a check-in. Yikes.

  2. Pingback: #tourismchat Highlights: Mobile Apps « Tourism Land

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