Topguest, the check-in program for frequent travelers, is now integrated with Facebook Places, making it the fourth company to do so, after Yelp, Booyah and Gowalla. This service, which offers program loyalty points and travel rewards for check-ins at hotels, airports and other travel or hospitality-related venues, functions as sort of a middle-man between travel rewards programs and users of location-based and social networking services including Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Twitter and Facebook.
With the new Facebook Places integration, Topguest members will now receive automatic rewards for their check-ins via Facebook.
Although Topguest launched into beta only seven weeks ago, it has already partnered with some major brands, including Viceroy Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels Group, Andre Balazs' Standard Hotels and the Soho & Tribeca Grand. In total, its partnerships equate to 4,600 supported check-in venues worldwide.
Rewards for Topguest users include things like 50 Priority Points for check-ins at any Holiday Inn, Crowe Plaza, Intercontinental or Hotel Indigo property, 20% off food, drink or spa at the Viceroy Hotels or room discounts at the Standard Hotels.
With Facebook check-ins, Topguest members will now be able to check-in to a venue via Facebook Places and automatically receive the associated rewards with that location, without any additional effort on their part. (U.S.-only, for now).
Facebook Available, Not Required
But Facebook isn't the only avenue to earning rewards. As noted above, users can add their accounts on other location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and Twitter (it supports geo-location), to earn the same benefits.
In fact, forgoing Facebook may even be the preferred course for some who are mistrustful of Facebook's privacy controls, given the network's past transgressions. Thanks to the ACLU's dire warnings about Facebook Places' privacy concerns and the reports of confusing settings that seemingly opt you in before you opt in, using Facebook Places' check-in feature comes with its own set of caveats to contend with. Having a more locked-down account available only to family and very close friends on a location-based service like Foursquare may be better alternative for some geo-location early adopters concerns with security and privacy.
That being said, plenty of mainstream users' first exposure to the idea of check-ins will come via Facebook. Others simply prefer Facebook to Twitter and the other smaller startups because it's the only social network their friends have joined.
Topguest: An Answer to the Question "Why check in?"
By offering real-world benefits for virtual check-ins, Topguest answers the question many users have about using these new sorts of location-based services: Why do this?
For the pragmatic, checking in to a location - thereby potentially exposing yourself to possible privacy issues, geo-stalking, or worse - is not the best idea, especially when the only benefits are the bragging rights of claiming "Mayor" on Foursquare or earning a pretend "passport stamp" in an iPhone app. Topguest provides a more valuable reason for checking-in: real rewards that translate into actual savings or benefits.
Interested users can sign up with Topguest here. The Facebook integration is live now and will require you to authorize Topguest as a Facebook application.