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Pa. Tourism Checks In on Foursquare

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Companies of all stripes are linking up with location-based services in the hopes of marrying the digital and physical worlds. Pennsylvania hopes hot location social network Foursquare can help it reach young road trippers this summer.
 
The Pennsylvania Tourism Board tomorrow is rolling out a new summer-long campaign called "The Fantastic Roadtrip-a-Matic." A centerpiece of the effort is a program with Foursquare that has sprinkled 100 tips at locations across the state. When Foursquare users check in at one of the locations, they will see the pieces of advice. Visiting Dozen Cupcakes bakery in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh gives users the following advice: "Voted best bakery in Pittsburgh and honestly, *we're* not even sure where to start. OK, OK, if we have to choose, we pick the Cinnamon Rolls."
 
The tourism board is also offering users three virtual badges based on their activity. For instance, Foursquare users who visit three recommended historical sites earn a "PA 4 Score and 7" badge. The other two badges are the "PA Shooflyer" for visiting restaurants and the "PA Retail Polka" for shopping.
 
"It's an additional incentive to travel these road trips," said Steve Red, president and CCO at Red Tettemer, the tourism board's agency. "It's all about treasure hunting and finding secret niches and places and getting rewards for it."
 
As part of the campaign, six locations will carry posters with QR codes to directly check in on Foursquare. The Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau is working with state businesses to educate them on the benefits of Foursquare, too.
 
Location-based services have attracted the attention of major brands. Foursquare recently hooked up with Starbucks to give discounts to "mayors." (Mayors are named based on the person who checks into a venue most often.) Zagat, Bravo and The Wall Street Journal all have programs running with Foursquare, which boasts 1 million users.
 
Red allows that the Foursquare component's major benefit could be in aligning the state with a hip new technology, even if it doesn't attract a mass audience.
 
"The program is to paint the state with a more progressive brush," he said.
 
Red Tettemer has created 20 trip itineraries for the Pennsylvania tourism site, VisitPA.com. The planned trips are tailored to different types of travelers, from history buffs to food lovers to outdoors enthusiasts. It will promote the effort via Web ads on travel sites, NYTimes.com, Gawker and other properties. It will also mail inserts to 1 million state residents.

The total media spend is about $1.5 million. Red Tettemer and Harmelin Media planned and bought the ads.
 
The campaign also includes a three-week Facebook photo contest launching next month. The winner receives a free hotel stay in Pennsylvania.