Topguest, a geolocation service, launched five months ago with plans to connect check-ins and real-world loyalty programs. The only problem: the service had limited partnerships with smaller hotel companies. Today, Topguest is coming out of beta with an expanded list of partners including Hilton HHonors, Virgin American Elevate, Wyndham Rewards, Choice Privileges, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Thompson Hotels, and Avis Car Rental UK, among others. TopGuest also announced a $2 million Series A funding round from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Ron Conway, Keith Rabois, Jeff Clavier, Naval Ravikant.
The promise of Topguest is that instead of one-off deals from Facebook Places or Foursquare, Topguest users can apply check-in points toward their existing rewards programs. The new partners expands the number of places people can check-in at from about 3,000 locations to about 10,000. Users will be able to also receive discounts when they check-in at locations.
Topguest doesn’t operate its own check-in service but integrates with existing services such as Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla and Loopt. After registering those services with Topguest, every check-in on one of those services at a Topguest location is credited to the user. Topguest is also launching new iPhone (s aapl) and Android (s goog) apps today to help users view their accounts and receive discounts from partners when they check-in. Another interesting twist is that Topguest is allowing users who check-in at Doubletree Hotels the ability to gift their friend with a 25 percent discount on a Doubletree bed-and-breakfast reservation.
I think the newly expanded Topguest service has a lot of promise because it’s working hard to make the check-in more practical for people. It can work from any existing location service and it ties it into tangible rewards. And with the ability to gift people, it combines a new layer of utility for check-ins. You’re not just reaping rewards yourself, but you’re able to pass on the benefits, which might be what helps location services become mainstream. As Mathew wrote, location-based services are still an early adopter niche. But as companies like Topguest ground the service and their rewards in ways that consumers can appreciate, it gives the geolocation services more lasting appeal.
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