Location-based services - like Four Square, GoWalla and Facebook Places - afford marketers unique opportunities to connect with engaged brand fans that should not be overlooked.

According to eMarketer, 57 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 25 and 34 are willing to share their location to receive geographically relevant advertising. This is important for two reasons: it demonstrates that users are willing to use location-based services (LBS), and they are open to marketers connecting with them using this technology.

For the hotel and casino industries there are valuable marketing interactions that can be executed using LBS ad-serving and user-engagement.

The most popular social media proclamations are location-based: “Heading to the casino, Off on my vacation” or “Cannot wait to check into my hotel”. This works great for hotels and casinos as users are highly likely to announce their upcoming trips (“Heading to Vegas for the weekend. Wish me luck!”) From a strictly social perspective, marketers can respond to messages with a quick introduction, like “Let us know if you need anything during your stay,” or a promotion to connect with someone who likely will be nearby, such as “Have a drink on us when you get here.” LBS takes this principle one step further, as users actually check in to a particular location and can interact with others at the same locale. Especially with FourSquare, where users compete for titles and special deals, consumers are apt to check in whenever they are in the area. For marketers, LBS is an easy way to identify and engage them. From there they can facilitate future conversations and create a group of brand evangelists.

There are several practical applications for casinos to utilize LBS in their marketing programs. FourSquare, in particular, holds great potential as it adds a level of competition to check-ins, which follows nicely with hotel stays and gambling. For example, properties could develop badges that act as digital players cards that reward consumers who check in to their location a certain number of times. (For example, after 5 p.m., check-ins could receive a room upgrade or drink voucher to enhance their stay.)

Facebook Places, while still being rolled out, promises unparalleled geo-targeting and hyper-targeting functionalities that will have great impacts on the hotel and casino industries. If a guest updates their status with “Going to see XX show at hotel ABC,” marketers can send them a hyper-targeted advertisement for the nightclub located next door to the event venue. If they are at the pool, marketers can send an ad offering a deal at the pool bar. The marketing implications are endless because the resort experience is rooted in activity and location - the two cornerstones of LBS.

Information about all LBS efforts can be included in itineraries, and signage can be displayed at check-in and concierge counters. This will encourage LBS check-ins when guests and visitors enter a property, and it will also serve as a reminder to interact with fellow guests while they are on-site, enjoying a meal, for example, or seeing a show or at a nightclub.

LBS also has a role to play in existing CRM tactics like e-mail marketing and social media. Both e-mail and social media can augment LBS marketing efforts as they are vehicles for personalized promotions and engagement. They are appropriate communication channels to announce a location-based marketing program and remind guests to use it during their stay. Additionally, most CRM tactics connect with guests after a stay or when they are considering another visit, but with LBS a CRM program can reach guests during their stays to deepen brand affinities.

While LBS platforms are still evolving, the expectations about advertising relevancy and timeliness will not likely reverse. Consumers have long been demanding marketing that relates to them and their affinities. LBS is one way that advertisers and marketers can adapt to changes in user behavior and interact with consumers in a highly relevant manner.

It’s important that casinos consider adding LBS to their marketing mix, as their guests are going to check in with or without brand-driven interactions. In fact, most LBS platforms allow users to create businesses or locations that they want to check in to, so guests could be checking in to a property without any input from brands or businesses.

While it’s not imperative to use LBS platforms as a promotional vehicle, it is essential to engage with guests using it. They are raising their hand to let their followers and marketers know where they are, and reports show they are welcome to relevant advertising. It would be a waste of technology to ignore them.