I’m a huge fan of Foursquare and have been since it launched in 2009. I love how it encourages a better experience through discovery and recommendations from the people I trust.
But how can Foursquare improve the experience? Let’s start with recommendations. They ensure that we not only discover a place, but that we get the best experience out of it. If we’re looking for the best ramen joint we may ask a friend or vice versa if a friend’s asking. If you’re traveling somewhere you’ll likely want to know the top places to visit whilst you’re there. This is when lists come in handy. You can collect your favorite places and organize into a list, plus if a friend asks for some recommendations you’ll be able to share that list with them in no time. Boom.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to book a last minute trip to Washington D.C. I naturally reached out to friends and co-workers who had been to D.C. for their recommendations. I very quickly got a ton of excellent-looking places that burst in through all kinds of social channels. To make sure I captured them all I created my own Foursquare list.
I have since discovered Foursquare Trip Tips which aims to make planning a trip easier with help from friends, but ultimately we end up at the same place.
I had over 40+ places, but less than 3 days. How would I be able to experience all of them?! Yikes.
In this case I prioritized and plucked out which places were essential. Then I figured out the specific location of each place to allow me to join the dots. How close was the Lincoln Memorial to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum? Could I combine the Smithsonian National Zoo with that awesome-looking brunch spot?
After a considerable time I had manually created a plan using my iPhone Notes app.
This was far from perfect. It was rigid. It didn’t account for weather conditions, if a place was closed or even transit time, but it was curation and it did provide a plan of action.
A Perfect Day
Before this had happened I remembered receiving an email from Foursquare featuring The Foursquare Insider’s Perfect Day in NYC. Recommendations from a user survey were neatly listed out into a single plan and broken down by time of day.
This was great! The dots had been joined. This was how a collection of places in a list became a plan.
What I’d love to see is smart plans. Recommendations from your friends, trending places and suggestions from Foursquare would still be essential to the experience, only this time context would be taken into account to create a perfect plan for your chosen time. Factors such as time of day, weather, transit, ratings, if friends have been there etc. would all feed into how a plan would be generated. The beauty of this is how effortless it would be. Throw in a bunch of places and see them come together. Or you could ask:
“Shopping day in Soho”
“Dinner and drinks with parents”
“Boozy brunch shenanigans in East Village”
Recommendations + Context = A Perfect Plan
Foursquare is already great at suggesting where to go next:
But Foursquare is a lot more powerful than most people may know. They’re very good at understanding your current context which allows them to deliver you tips right when they’re most relevant. For example you may of just sat down in a new restaurant and you’ll receive a popular tip like “Try the Hellboy pizza, with spicy honey on it”. This is what Foursquare is calling Pilgrim and they have big plans in utilizing it to provide better user experiences within the Foursquare and Swarm apps. It’s a huge leap in the right direction for plans as it can figure out where people are going and this can help join the dots between places, but for true context other data needs to be added into the mix and perhaps expanding integrations with third party services such as Citymapper, Uber and OpenTable.
The future is magical
With $45M of fresh funding in the bank and Dennis Crowley refocusing his energies on making something awesome that people love, I’m confident we’ll see more magic coming from Foursquare in 2016 and beyond.
Looks like we’re heading in the right direction. 😄