Redeeming Foursquare special offers: my experience

Redeeming Foursquare special offers: my experience

Did you know that Foursquare collaborates with businesses to list official special offers on its venue pages? Yah, they do, and best of all, it’s free for businesses to participate.


The concept of real world businesses providing a tangible incentive to Foursquare users (who normally receive just a virtual reward) intrigued me, so I set out on a mission to redeem a few Foursquare special offers on my own.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Carrabba’s

My first experience occurred at Carrabba’s in Glendale, where I am, indeed, the not-so-mighty Mayor on Foursquare.

Upon checking in on the Foursquare Android app, I was greeted with a special offer screen that looked like the following image (taken from the Foursquare website).


Free dessert for the mayor? Yessir, I’ll take it, thankaverymuch.

I kept the foursquare special offer screen in focus on my Motorola Droid and set the phone aside for later.

After finishing our meal, I asked our waitress if she had heard of the Foursquare Mayor free dessert promotion. I then showed her the special offer info on my phone, but she had never heard of it. She said that she would have to get a manager, so we waited while she called a manager over to our table.

Getting shot down… sort of

When the manager arrived, she said something like “these kind of things always go up online and then Carrabba’s takes them down quickly and it’s probably a scam.”

Wow… really? I was shocked, but the experience didn’t end badly. Even though she didn’t believe the promotion was legitimate, the manager said she would honor it anyway, so we wound up with a free dessert.

I reported the incident to @Carrabbas and they later followed up with me on Twitter and email, exhibiting excellent customer service.

When I returned to Carrabba’s a second & third time, I had no problems whatsoever redeeming the Foursquare special offer. I suspect someone at corporate called the Glendale location and asked them to educate all employees on the Foursquare promotion. Well done, Carrabba’s.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Monti’s La Casa Vieja

The second location where I redeemed a Foursquare special offer was at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe.

Tera and I were enjoying the beautiful Arizona weather, hanging with our friends Jake and Mandy at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. When I mentioned the Monti’s 5 cent drink Foursquare special offer, our friends could hardly believe it.

We huffed it down to the end of Mill Ave, where Tera and I checked in on Foursquare before entering Monti’s. As we checked in, the Foursquare special offer splashed to life on our screens, which looked like the image below (again, taken from the Foursquare website).


We scuttled on over to the bar area, where Jake and Mandy tried to check-in on Foursquare to join in on the special offer fun. Oops, no service inside the building (thanks AT&T).

When our waitress arrived, I asked her if she was aware of the Foursquare promotion. Nope! She had no idea what I was talking about. She took our orders, presumably spoke with management and then came back to ask me how many of us had checked in on Foursquare. Tera got a glass of wine for 5 cents, I got a tasty Four Peaks draft beer for 5 cents.

Five cent drinks FTW!

Foursquare special offers final thoughts

Providing tangible rewards for Foursquare users is a very smart business move and a compelling incentive to get more people using Foursquare. A win-win for the business and Foursquare.

Like anything new, the Foursquare special offer redemption process will be bumpy at first. The best thing that a business can do to ensure a smooth process is to make sure that all of their staff is aware of the Foursquare special offer, once they start running one.

Foursquare might not be mainstream quite yet, but the folks who are using it are tech-savvy, vocal, ahead-of-the-pack power users. Adding a free Foursquare special offer for your business will attract these people as well as increase awareness and conversations about your business. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity.

Tips on redeeming a Foursquare special offer

Check-in before entering a business, to avoid wireless service issues indoors.
Don’t expect the staff to be aware of the Foursquare special offer, or even know what Foursquare is.
Keep the special offer image & text available on your phone to show the staff, if needed.
Be polite and ask the staff to check with management if they need further direction.
If you run into a problem, follow-up with a higher up (manager, owner, corporate office) to get things ironed out.

More resources on Foursquare

Learn more about Foursquare for businesses (official site).
10 Ways a Small Business can Leverage Foursquare by Joe Manna
Local Search Marketing using Foursquare by Chuck Reynolds

About Wes Novack

Wes is a Technologist working in the software industry, with extensive experience building and managing highly available applications, services, and systems in the public cloud. He has extensive experience with online publishing and building internet communities. Wes enjoys hanging with his family, getting outdoors, skateboarding, hiking, pickelball, tennis, the vegan lifestyle, and a good cup of tea. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) @WesleyTech.

View all posts by Wes Novack →

12 Comments on “Redeeming Foursquare special offers: my experience”

  1. Our restaurant/bar runs a Foursquare promo and we posted screenshots/info at all our POS stations so that servers would be aware of it. We’ve enjoyed running a Foursquare promo and our customers have liked it too.

    1. Nice. Posting screenshots at your POS stations is a great idea. Glad to hear that Foursquare promotion is working well for your business.

  2. Wes,

    This is a great observation and experience that you posted. I’m happy to hear you were able to get the deals that were being marketed by the brands’ Foursquare presences.

    In my experience, many businesses have wide gaps in their marketing/ads/promotions and front-end customer service and operations. This causes major #fails because people could be easily turned off by the server or cashier who doesn’t have knowledge (or worse, contests the customer) over the promotion marketed on Foursquare.

    My advice for those owners is to COMMUNICATE to your staff and let them know of the current promotion. I think it’s totally reasonable for cashiers/staff to see the Foursquare promo as you see it to verify its authenticity. (Yeah, yeah, I know nothing prevents people from producing fraudulent images…) It’s a start.

    I hope all these businesses improve their Foursquare competency — their business (and reputation) depends on it. 😉


    1. Yep, front-end staff education on the promos is key to preventing an awkward & uncomfortable customer experience when the promos are redeemed. The goal is to bring in more customers, not scare people away! Keep that in mind, businesses.

  3. Wes,
    Thanks for visiting Monti’s and posting about your Foursquare experience. I am glad that you persisted until you got what you were entitled to!
    I agree that staff education is critical. (And, -damn it!- I thought we had that covered!) The biggest challenge I have in educating staff about Foursquare is trying to get them to understand the whole context. If a person isn’t already into SM/Twitter?Brightkite etc. I might as well be trying to get them to understand 16-dimensional spacetime warping. Back to the drawing board, I guess. 😉
    All the best,

    1. Michael, the experience at Monti’s was just fine. Even though our server wasn’t aware of the promo when I first mentioned it, she “checked in” on it and got back to us. Very good customer service.

      Good point about trying to train people on 16-dimensional spacetime warping. This stuff is definitely difficult to grasp for some people. 🙂

    2. Hi Michael,

      I know your post is from 2 years ago, but if you happen to check this forum again, I have a question for you. I’m about to create a special for my business on Foursquare and as far as I can tell, it’s a fairly simply process. But someone mentioned having to create a voucher or coupon for the special. Did your company do this?



  4. Hi Wes,

    How do you get the coupons to pop up on your screen? I have a motorola droid and have not figured out how to get coupons to pop up. A few weeks ago I was out at a restaurant with friends who have iPhones. We all checked in on four square and they had coupons pop up for free drinks while I didn’t have anything pop up on mine. I checked in two more times to try to figure out how to get the coupon but to no avail. Luckily, the waiter give me a free drink anyway since he saw that I had checked in to foursquare and that my friends had coupons on their phones.

    1. Make sure you update to the latest version of the Foursquare Android app. The Foursquare special offer/coupon should popup automatically upon checkin. It’s worked every time for me.

  5. Hi Wes,

    I had a similar interaction with the Carrabbas in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier this week. I checked-in and found that I had became mayor and knowing that Carrabbas participates in promotions on FourSquare, I mentioned it to the bar tender where we were sitting. He (much like in your situation) was not aware of the promotion. At any rate, I was looking online to determine if it was possible that the Knoxville location was exempt from the promotion. What I found instead is that there are multiple Carrabbas available to check-in at. It’s the same location, but separate options. Is there any way you can tell which one is legitimately operated by the business?

    Thanks in advnace for your reply,


    1. Hey Nicole! The “official” Carrabbas Foursquare locations will have a orange special listed on them in the Foursquare app. The “unofficial” ones won’t list the special and should be deleted/merged by the Foursquare system. A Foursquare Super User such as myself would be able to do the merge, if you send me the links to the venue pages online. Otherwise you should be able to report the duplicate venue inside the Foursquare app on your phone.

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