Louis Gray wrote a great piece titled “Should boring married people check in on location apps” which I felt needed a response. His experience is something I’ve seen many times before, he becomes the mayor of his house, checks in at the various gas stations and furniture stores, then questions the value of checking in. I say, come to North Carolina and use TriOut for a month. You’ll never look at checking in the same.

The “check in” doesn’t have to be a no-value, self promoting act. It can actually help you find places to go and people to meet. TriOut is based in the Triangle area of North Carolina; Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill. We’re more than just a location based service, we’re a service to our community.

We treat every user check in as a positive vote for the location you’re checking into. You wouldn’t keep going back to a place you don’t like, right? If you do, you know full well you’d give it a bad review, like the DMV or a horrible automotive shop.

Using this information, we developed a “popularity” index for locations based on the number of people who have visited, how often they visit, and what they rate the place. We can determine which restaurants in Raleigh are the most popular, which museums in Durham you should check out, etc. This is much more accurate than a simple “5 star rating” you get from other sites.

What makes this system even more valuable is when you’re looking for new places to explore. We have a “Places You’ll Probably Love” section in our search results. What this does is takes all the locations your friends have been to, calculates how popular they are with your friends, then returns places which you haven’t been in to, in order of popularity. My wife and I have used this just about every weekend to find new restaurants to try out, and the beauty is, there’s always something new to try.

We like to call it “organizing the word of mouth.” Your friends are out there going to some great places, eating at some great restaurants. Unless you catch them say it on Twitter, or have a conversation with them about it, you’ll never know. Because they check in at locations, and add photos and reviews of places they visit, we can share their impression of the location without you having to ask.

I’d say the “check in” is the most valuable technology that has popped up in the last year. Just as Twitter has become a system for communication, checking in will eventually become the way we get recommendations and find places to go. All it takes now is for more companies and developers to realize the power of it.

Guest post by Lawrence Ingraham from April 4th, 2010 on http://tri-out.com/blog


Written by: Lawrence Ingraham

Lawrence Ingraham, Founder/Lead Developer for TriOut. Follow Lawrence on Twitter. You can reach Lawrence via email at law@tri-out.com

Disclaimer: I’m a partner with TriOut a location-based startup in NC where I serve as the Business development/marketing strategist.

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