For PivotDesk, working hand-in-hand with Foursquare makes perfect sense. We are an inherently location-based service, and integrating with Foursquare allows us to bring a wide range of benefits to our customers. Foursquare’s mobile app is especially enticing for us because we have focused on our desktop application and do not have a perfect mobile experience.
On our Foursquare page, we wanted to show off all of our amazing hosts. Each host is listed on Foursquare as what they call a Venue, which just means it’s a location that anyone can check into using the Foursquare app. The first thought was that it would be ideal to have the PivotDesk hosts be organized into one group as what Foursquare calls a VenueGroup. That way, all of the PivotDesk hosts would be shown on the front of the PivotDesk Foursquare page. Also, the API docs for VenueGroups would also allow us to create campaigns with specials for checking in to PivotDesk hosts as well as see statistics about check-ins at all the different hosts. However, creating a VenueGroup required that we were the managers of every location in the group, which we clearly are not. VenueGroups seem to be more focused around larger brands and chain stores.
So, we shifted gears a bit and starting looking into the ability for Foursquare pages to create lists. By using the API Key from the PivotDesk page, we had access to the page’s List endpoints. It made perfect sense to create lists for our four major markets: Boulder, Denver, New York City, and San Francisco. It is especially interesting for our two recently launched markets, San Francisco and New York, where Foursquare is much more heavily used.
The next step was to match all of the PivotDesk hosts to the Foursquare system. To do this, we added a Foursquare ID field to all of our listings. We then wrote a fairly simple rake task that used the Foursquare Search Venues endpoint to find Foursquare ID’s for our listings. The Foursquare2 ruby gem made it easy to access the Foursquare API. The key here was to set the optional intent field to “match.” By passing a company name, geographic coordinate, and the match intent, we were able to get Foursquare ids for the majority of our listings.
After that, it was fairly simple to write one more rake task that goes through each market in our system and adds all of the listings to the respective Foursquare lists. The beauty of the Add List endpoint is that it only adds to the list if it does not already exist, so we didn’t even have to check the existing Foursquare list for duplicates.
These lists provide a great way for guests to browse some of our listings on a mobile device using the native Foursquare app. Foursquare provides an intuitive map as well as pictures and other information about each host. As a guest, you can also save the list of their respective cities, and as we add new listings in your area they will show up in your Foursquare feed. Another beneficial aspect of the lists is that anyone who checks in at a location, lets say Red Rover in NYC, will see that it appears on the PivotDesk Foursquare list. This is a great way for PivotDesk to acquire new customers.
As we move forward with our integration with Foursquare, there are several interesting opportunities. The first one is to start to add PivotDesk hosts that aren’t yet on Foursquare as Venues. The only difficulty there would be ensuring that we are not creating any duplicates. The benefit is that it will increase the breadth of our lists to become complete guides to PivotDesk in that city or market. Another way we could increase integration is to have our hosts authenticate with Foursquare through our service. From there, we could edit their Foursquare venue page to include a link to their PivotDesk listing. Once we did that, the Foursquare lists we have would work as complete guides to the PivotDesk listings in a city. On top of that, we could utilize the Foursquare Real-Time API to send push notifications to users that check in to any of our hosts and let them know there is space available there. One last slightly more far-fetched and long term idea is to have guests check into Foursquare when they come to work, and integrating Foursquare check-ins into the host dashboard so they can keep better keep track of the guests.
Working with the Foursquare API has been an absolute pleasure, and we look forward to working with them more closely in the future.