Sports Authority Pitches Check-in Rewards via Loopt Star App

By Sep 22, 2010

Retailer Sports Authority has opted to test running promotions in the geo-social network Loopt Star that will give iPhone users discounts for checking in either at SA stores or, interestingly, at participating major league football, baseball and basketball arenas.

Users of the free Loopt Star iPhone app (not yet available for Android) will get a $10 electronic cash card to use toward any purchase from Sports Authority when they use the app to check into the social network from a professional sports arena. They can also earn a $10 discount on a purchase of $50 or more by checking in at any of the chain’s 450 stores.

While Sports Authority isn’t yet promoting the Loopt Star campaign on its Web site, Loopt marketing vice president Alice Lankester says the company is planning to promote the application and its benefits in-store with displays, window clings and point-of-purchase materials.

As for the mobile component, users who launch Loopt Star on their GPS-enabled iPhones will see a list of nearby locations offering Loopt Star rewards. “So while they may not be thinking of going to Sports Authority, they can see one within a few miles, and they may be reminded that they need to go buy golf balls or a pair of shoes,” Lankester says.

Loopt Star was rolled out last summer as a separate iPhone application from parent Loopt, a social check-in network similar to Foursquare and Gowalla. Unlike its parent, Loopt Star offers users the chance to do more than just become game-play “leaders” of a location by checking in the most: They can also earn rebates and special offers for checking in during a specific period or a specified number of times. The app uses Wi-Fi to make sure users really are where they say they are when checking in.

The stadium promotion is a first for Loopt Star. While the company has no say in how Sports Authority promotes the deals it’s offering in those venues, Lankester says, the best thing to do might be to rent some time on the Jumbotron display and notify all attendees about the Loopt Star campaign. Since NFL stadiums can seat 70,000 on average and Major League Baseball arenas somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000, publicizing the promotion there could result in lots of redemptions.

And those could spread beyond just the attendees. Loopt Star is built entirely on the foundation of Facebook’s social graph, Facebook Connect, so that users who check in may wind up posting that activity to their Facebook wall for their friends to view—thereby giving the Loopt Star promotions a chance at achieving viral spread.

On Aug. 31, airline Virgin America partnered with Loopt Star to run a four-hour check-in to promote new non-stop flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Mexico. During that short window, users could check in over Loopt Star either at the airports in those U.S. cities or at two taco trucks parked on Hollywood Blvd. and on Folsom St. in San Francisco. Those who did so would have the chance to buy two Virgin tickets to Mexico for the price of one, while supplies lasted.

The airline later reported that 80% of those who checked in actually took advantage of the ticket offer, creating the fifth-highest revenue day in its history. (No financial specifics were announced.)

Other Loopt Star partners include Starbucks, Burger King, The Gap, and apparel retailers Paul Frank and Steve Madden.

Earlier this year Sports Authority announced that it was testing geo-location promotions on the platform of Loopt rival Foursquare. That pilot, which is apparently ongoing despite the Loopt Star deal, offered $10 gift cards to the Foursquare user who checked in often enough to become “mayor” of an individual Sports Authority store.

While the Loopt geo-social network has 4 million members compared to 2.6 million for Foursquare (as reported by CEO Dennis Crowley last August), the number of users for the Loopt Star iPhone app is undisclosed but thought to be much smaller than either figure.

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