5 Questions for Pia Arthur of Gowalla

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This is the fifth in a series of brief Q&As with leaders and up-and-comers in the local space

Pia Arthur

Describe Gowalla as if a friend’s mother asked, “So what is this Gowalla?
Gowalla is a social network that inspires people to keep up with friends, share the places they go and discover the extraordinary in the world around them. Like a passport on your phone, Gowalla was born out of a desire to share remarkable places and life journeys in a fun, easy and social way. Since launch, people have visited, commented on and photographed 2 million places in 170 countries with Gowalla. Now businesses, events, musicians and organizations are using Gowalla to reward fans, to build customer loyalty, and to craft memorable life experiences.

If you were not involved with Gowalla which service would you use to satisfy your needs? Why should people use your product over, say, watching hockey?
Gowalla provides users an experience that goes beyond simply “checking in.” When you “check in” to a location, you receive a Stamp on your Gowalla Passport, with which you can find and add friends, and begin to record and share your place in the world. Gowalla Passport holders also can:

• Add Photos and Comments to further document your experience
• Designate meaningful Places through Gowalla’s Highlights feature. For example, Gowalla Passport holders can highlight the “Best Cup of Coffee” or their favorite place to hear live music.
• Look for Spots, and if one doesn’t exist, it can be created by the Gowalla community for all to see.
• Create and add a Trip, or have the option to take the Trips from many of Gowalla’s partners including, Nike-LIVESTRONG, USA Today, National Geographic, CNN, TOMS, Four Seasons, NASA, NBA, and The Washington Post. Whether created by a Gowalla Passport holder or one of the service’s partners, a Trip is a list of curated places for a user to visit in order to earn the Pin for the given Trip.
• Receive deals and curated content on a place with which Gowalla has a partnership. For example, in August, Gowalla and AT&T partnered with TOMS Shoes and their One for One movement. From August 16 through August 29, each Gowalla Passport Holder who checked-in on Gowalla at various technology and apparel retailers had the chance to win one of many prizes, including TOMS Shoes, AT&T Smartphones, and AT&T netbooks. One lucky Gowalla Passport holder received the grand prize—a trip to Argentina this fall with TOMS Shoes for the company’s One Millionth Pair Shoe Drop.

Because these features provide Passport holders a rich, interactive, and unique experiences, we do not feel that Gowalla is comparable to any location-based service.

Tease us with a hint of what’s in your pipeline related to local, will ya?
Gowalla is continually developing new features to make the service more social and we’ve got many more things coming down the pipeline. We are also considering many different partnership opportunities that enhance the experience for our community. Our goal is to build additional features that go beyond the check-in and bring added value at the intersection of people and places.

Just recently, we launched three new features that will help people discover cities on a more local level and also help local businesses with marketing and customer loyalty strategies. With more and more businesses utilizing the power of location to heighten brand awareness and engage audiences, Gowalla recently added new features that give smaller businesses the opportunity to connect with the people visiting their locations in an exciting new way – City Pages, Verified Businesses and Venues and the Stamp Calendar.

• City Pages – In more than 30 metro areas worldwide, Gowalla is combining all of the most popular happenings, places, and activities in one fresh and simple to use place creating a social atlas curated by the community.
◦ Most checked-in Spots in one easy to view place
◦ Live map of check-ins in each of the cities
▪ Sample cities: The Gowalla homepage will have access to all the city pages, here are just a few – Portland, London, Stockholm, San Francisco, Austin
• Verified Businesses and Venues – Today local business and venue owners can claim and verify their locations on Gowalla, add contact information, location details and more.
◦ Customize the messages that appear when people check-in
◦ Claim a location at http://gowalla.com/business
◦ Custom Stamps– Any verified business may purchase a custom Passport Stamp for their location along with a featured listing on Gowalla

What is the future of local + mobile, in 15 words or less?
In the near future, location will be a core pillar of the mobile Web.

Pia Arthur is marketing director at Gowalla. Prior to joining Gowalla, Pia worked in public relations supporting various consumer technology accounts such as YouTube, Ning, GameFly and Sprint/Boost Mobile.
This post originally appeared on Locl.ly.