Of the location-based services (LBS) we are testing, Gowalla has the fewest places pre-populated in their database. In a recent interview on TechTV (on ustream.tv) the founder of Gowalla admitted that they have the youngest LBS and, from our point of view, it looks like they are trying to build a better mousetrap.
Their application is very slick and refined compared to all the others; they learned from mistakes of the other LBS companies. It loads very fast, too, which is a major benefit when wanting to check out local activity quickly. It also helps to have a fast application when the user is waiting on a checkout line and only has about 75 - 90 seconds of free time. (Yes, we're measuring free time in a matter of seconds!)
This attractive system is designed to make the "Spot" (aka the retail store) the primary point of interest. That means there is a really good chance that your store name will be the first thing the user sees when they open this application within 1000 meters of your store.
Setting them apart from the others is the concept of Trips and Passports. Users have the ability to create a suggested group of locations and turn them into a Trip for others to do. Imagine being able to highlight all the best places in your town to visit, your jewelry store being one of them.
Gowalla rewards users for visiting Spots and completing Trips with attractive badges for their digital Passport.
Gowalla already has international appeal, intentionally designed with the concept of the Passport which makes it very attractive for tourist and business travelers from the US and all over the world.
This is way beyond Web 2.0 conversations… Sign up, get your own Passport and create a few walking and driving Tours in your area. Your competition will wonder what makes your store the newest tourist trap in town.