Gowalla Checks-in at Mouse House

Yesterday Gowalla announced a partnership with one of the biggest brands on the planet – Walt Disney, Inc.. There are plenty of skeptics that don’t believe in social media – let alone geo-social apps like Gowalla, (Foursquare and Facebook Places.) So, why does this partnership make sense?

First, it makes sense, because Gowalla is about user engagement! This service, whose app is installed on my iPhone, makes it easy to check-in at locations throughout your city and the world. In exchange for sharing your favorite haunts, tips and photos, you are rewarded with stamps in your passport and virtual items left behind at locations. It’s a great mash-up of geo-caching, scavenger hunts, and tourist maps – bundled into one beautifully illustrated package.

For Disney Parks, this user engagement translates into another medium to extend engagement during the trip, entertain guests and encourage them to explore. On my first trip to Walt Disney World, I purchased an EPCOT passport, which led me to the souvenir shop of all 9 countries in the World Showcase, where I could get a stamp and autograph from a cast member. [Read that last sentence again, marketers.] I dragged my parents to 9 different stores, in exchange for stamps! It’s the oldest adage of Disney properties – “all rides end in a gift store.”

Doug and I encourage our customers to use the most efficient means to engage users and measure conversions. In an increasingly mobile and digital world, why not use a tool like Gowalla? As part of the launch, Disney has provided guests with Gowalla-featured resort trips that lead guests to key rides (and stores) in all the parks. In exchange, Disney is receiving valuable statistics on the number of places that guests visit, which rides are most popular, which parks get the most traffic, etc.. Once combined with the traditional demographic data that Disney collects on guests, they have an invaluable wealth of information, which in-turn can be used to re-engage customers and create more efficient conversions.

The media of marketing is constantly change, but user engagement should remain constant. What tools are available that your company could begin testing to improve engagement and conversions?

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