While rewarding customers for checking-in at your stores seems like a no brainer – what brand wouldn’t want to reward customers for stepping into its stores AND telling friends about your visit – it can be very difficult for brands to coordinate the logistics of offering a check-in special.  This is especially true for brands that have hundreds or even thousands of locations.

Challenges brands face when offering a check-in special include training staff on how to redeem a check-in special offer or tracking offer redemptions in a CRM.  We’ve all heard the stories, especially during the early days of location-based services, of venue staff not understanding what Foursquare is or how to redeem a Foursquare special.

The typical cause is that the corporate marketing team hasn’t been able to effectively communicate and train local-store staff on how to redeem an offer from a location-based service.

Here are three ways to alleviate the strain of running offers through services like Foursquare or Facebook Places:

Include a point-of-sale code in your offer

In your offer, include instructions such as “Servers, use code 123XYZ to redeem.” This way, if your staff is unfamiliar with this check-in offer, they will be able to easily enter the offer code into your system.  This also enables  you to track redemptions through your point-of-sale system.

Give loyalty points instead of coupons

Brands that offer an existing loyalty program or loyalty card should give customers bonus loyalty points instead of coupons.  By rewarding customers that check-in with loyalty points, you’re able to reward customers without having to train staff on what a “check-in special” is.   By giving users loyalty points for check-ins, you’re also able to measure check-in activity within your existing loyalty CRM or system.

Run a contest

Contests and sweepstakes are also a convenient way to run a check-in marketing program without having to train local staff.  By running a contest, you can still create marketing buzz and drive in-store traffic, but you don’t have to worry about the logistics of offer redemptions.  Most contests will reward participants with grand prizes, which your corporate marketing team can easily send to specific winners.

What else?  What are other ways to run check-in promotions without worrying about logistics?