Foursquare this week launched its Explore feature on the web that was only available on its mobile app. In an effort termed as: “Personalized search for the real world”, the launch of this feature as a section on the Foursquare website shows that it is making a serious push into local search on the web.
Another main feature – utilizing your friends’ behaviors and preferences to recommend things for you to do.
This is how it works
Upon loading, you’re presented with a simple dialog asking what you’re looking for:
Note the options in the bottom right. In addition to being able to simply explore new places you haven’t been to yet, you’re also able to easily search for places your friends have been to.
Here’s a quick example of a search for Pizza places in Los Angeles:
The results will be shown on a map with places your friends have visited, how often they’ve been there, and what they’ve had to say about them, which already exists on countless other travel planning sites.
But Foursquare has a secret weapon that no other travel websites can come even close to matching: Over 1.5 billion checkins worldwide, a truly massive amount of data on past consumer behavior. Each of these checkins has tracked:
- Where the user is
- The time of day the user checked in
- Whether they’re with a friend
- Any comments the user has left via Foursquare’s “Tips” feature
- Any photos the user chose to attach
Unlike most travel planning sites, Foursquare didn’t have to ask users to recommend things or make them enter data manually. This data was shared in real-time, giving it authenticity and lacking the sort of bias towards popularity frequently seen on other sites.
Explore also searches the massive amount of data contained in Tips and Reviews left by users, enabling a user to free text search for places and recommendations such as ‘chic boutique hotel’ and really dig into what users think about particular places.
Enabling users to easily find things they’ve previously expressed interest in is another important feature of Explore. Utilizing the “Save for later” feature, a user can easily bookmark spots in a city they wish to visit in the future. When visiting that city, Explore would allow the user to easily find spots they’ve bookmarked. This is in addition to Foursquare’s Radar feature, which can automatically alert you when you’re near a place you’ve saved.