A telling example of how quickly Facebook Places has been embraced by the business community is VisitBritain’s ranking of check-in attractions in the U.K. The country’s tourism promotion agency has a Facebook site that includes a listing of 50 different Places-enabled destinations.
The U.K. had been lagging the U.S. in Internet usage for the past decade, so will Places become the killer app that single-handedly bring the Brits up to speed? Or does the tourism focus of this application mean that businesses catering to U.K. locals have yet to catch on to Places — meaning business as usual?
As of this post, about 3,007 people have checked in to the top destination included in VisitBritain’s ranking, which is admirable considering the timing of the announcement. “We’re competing with the Queen getting up on Facebook on the same day so it’s interesting to see the interest so far,” said Richard Delevan, managing director of Betapond, which developed VisitBritain’s page for Facebook.
The VisitBritain page has a different intended audience than the Queen’s. U.K. natives would likely have more interest in the sovereign’s profile on Facebook, while people outside of the country and contemplating travel happen upon the tourism agency’s site.
The Places-enabled VisitBritain page is great news for Betapond. “It’s our biggest engagement so far in the UK – and it’s gone well enough that we’re expanding and opening a London office this month,” said Delevan in an email interview. He wrote:
The app is polling the checkins of the Places in the dbase hourly — at facebook.com/loveUK. At the moment Alton Towers, sort of like a Six Flags park, is topping the leaderboard with 3,007. The idea is that — like the Gap Deals campaign last week in the U.S. or the Cheryl Cole/XFactor Places campaign in the U.K. — the campaign itself will help drive further check-ins.
The next phases will have more direct incentives to consumers to check in. But at the moment you’re looking at the raw check-ins at U.K. venues before anybody promotes checking in. In part the hope is that venues will compete with each other to drive more check-ins, just to get a better position amongst the Top 50.
The database currently includes 150 Places, only 50 of which are visible on the app. Of the top 10 alone it’s actually 19,540 check-ins. Do far for the Top 50 in total it’s more than 30-odd thousand. They include Places like the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, etc.
I think the number of check-ins would be a lot higher if this app launched during the summer, which is really considered the tourism season for European countries. Perhaps the reason for a November launch has to do with improving the app during a time when demand for it is low. That way, the VisitBritain ranking will be in its best form for handling the masses coming in summer 2011.