Yelp has announced check-in offers for businesses, meaning that businesses can offer Yelp users special deals for checking in at their place of business. Check-ins are tied to Twitter and Faecbook (for Android and iPhone users), so when a user checks in, they are potentially sharing it with a lot of their friends.
The feature is part of the business owner dashboard on Yelp, and the company says it gives businesses a measurable way to reward their loyal customers while attracting new ones.
"What happens when a consumer unlocks your offer? If a consumer chooses the 'Use it Now!' option for his Check-in Offer on that visit, it will disappear automatically from his device in a few hours time," the company explains. "The user or the business owner can also tap a button on the phone to mark the offer as used, expiring the timer immediately."
"If a consumer chooses to 'Save it!', that Check-in Offer will be saved several places on their device: the 'About Me' page; at the top of the business page where they earned that offer and on the Check-ins tab on the Yelp app," the company adds. "The user can then redeem the offer anytime, following the same process above."
Businesses Are Key to Making Check-in Apps Mainstream
Yelp's offering is just the latest example of how businesses are able to take advantage of users checking into places using mobile apps. While adoption of check-in apps is far from reaching true mass appeal, it is services like this that are bound to nudge the whole phenomenon in that direction.
When businesses are able to offer users rewards, users have a reason to check-in. They're not just doing it for the "fun" of it. If consumers start to realize that they can get good deals and save money, we're bound to see this become more and more mainstream.
What will be interesting to keep an eye on is which services consumers prefer the most, and that could end up being largely dictated by which ones businesses choose to promote thier offers with. Yelp has a good advantage for that reason, given that many businesses owners are already familiar with Yelp in general. Facebook also has a clear advantage because not only do most businesses have some kind of Facebook presence already, but the social network has half a billion users.
Currently, Foursquare is still largely considered the poster-child of check-in apps, and CEO Dennis Crowley recently said at ad:tech New York, he's very "bullish" on where his service is going to go for local merchants.
If you're interested in utilizing Yelp's new check-in offers features, I suggest reading their how-to guide. The feature is available in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland. Plumbers, limo drivers, locksmiths, and other "on-the-go" businesses are restricted from using the feature.