Cultural Cachet and the Potential of Paid Check Ins

Yesterday I wrote five predictions about the future fate of geolocation. My take highlighted strategic and technological advances that could help give existing geolocation services an edge.

Today I want to consider something a bit more human, and that is the fact that in the future, I believe someone at some point, will pay to check in somewhere.

If services like Foursquare and Gowalla bring to light one universal truth, it’s the fact that when people check in they are aware that they are painting an image of themselves. The very act of checking in reinforces a person’s identity, tells a story, and often serves as a mini, momentary status symbol.

If services like Foursquare are about the art of displaying a piece of yourself through where you are, then it would make sense that in a highly concentrated geosocial world, the demand to check in in some places will be extremely high. Anyone who has found themselves smack dab in the middle of the VIP room of a prestigious bar knows exactly what this means. Some places just have more cachet than others.

That said, if geo proliferates I envision a day when people are clamoring desperately to check in to a specific location. Maybe it’s a store, maybe it’s a party, or maybe it’s the VIP room of that private bar. Whatever the case, I think any business should strive to become the kind of place where people want desperately to display their association. Make them want it so bad they’ll pay for it.

Certain brands seem to do this already, only people pay for logos on physical objects. Geolocation is just taking this kind of brand currency into the virtual world, and if checking in remains an acceptable means of displaying identity, the desire to check in could become an indicator of brand equity in the future.

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