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Geo-Tracking…Friend or Foe

Thanks to the advent of location services or geo-tracking technology, your favorite brand can now know where you are at any time of day and in any corner of the world.

For some, knowing that you are being “tracked” can be alarming. For those who seek exceptional experiences, the capability presents welcomed opportunities.

The number of smartphone owners continues to rise rapidly. Nearly two-thirds of Americans own smartphones. It is estimated that by 2020, world smartphone usage will top 6.1 billion. For companies seeking to market products to consumers, these numbers must drive their strategy going forward. The question, though, is what should that strategy look like?

Those following smartphone technology recognize the implementation of location services as one of the biggest trends developing in the last 24-months. The reliance on geo-tracking to build a brand is perhaps best demonstrated by Snapchat’s rapid rise in popularity.

Snapchat debuted in 2011 with little fanfare. Within one year, though, the app grew to over 100,000 followers. In July 2014, Snapchat unveiled its now widely popular geofilters, special photographic overlays that indicate to viewers when and where the picture was taken. Just ask anyone under 25 and they will show you. To access the geo-filters, Snapchat users must allow the app to track their location.

Ten years ago, smartphone users would’ve balked at the request to allow a third party to track their every move. In today’s digital age, users willingly engage in the opportunity, but only if it means accessing customized content or unique opportunities.

Snapchat’s growth stands as a solid demonstration of this. In June 2014—one month before Snapchat launched its geofilters—the app reportedly had 26.8 million unique U.S. users. By January 2015, Snapchat was approaching 200 million users. For them, the geo-filters make a photo or video more fun for users.

So, what’s the lesson from Snapchat’s use of geo-tracking for clubs? Like Snapchat, the answer for clubs lies in an app.

With clubs recognizing the need to have a mobile presence, location services is a powerful tool. It is not about “tracking” someone, it is all about anticipating arrival.  The two areas where clubs can provide members customized and unique opportunities are through providing name recognition services and data driven promotions.

For instance, say that Mr. Jones is a member of your club, but an infrequent user (about 10 visits per year). He downloaded your private app and enabled location services. The app is designed so that your staff is alerted when Mr. Jones is within a close proximity of the club. Upon being alerted, the staff can review Mr. Jones’ profile to familiarize themselves with his name, picture and preferences. Then, Mr. Jones and his guest enter the club to a personal greeting like this, “Hey there Mr. Jones, as a Villanova grad, you must’ve been beaming with that buzzer-beater last night…”

How do you think he feels?

From a promotional standpoint, savvy clubs would know that while Mr. Jones may only visit a handful of times over the summer, he prefers outdoor dining. Thus, keeping him informed with push notifications on patio-related events are likely to attract him.  

Every club manager knows the importance of building loyalty. Loyalty is built through personal service and care. Some see geo-tracking as Big Brother extending his grasp. Top GM’s know that geo-tracking is a tech tool to provide exceptional experiences.

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