trispic2 Foursquare Confirms Restaurant Dashboard Alpha TestingIn a new article in trade magazine Nation’s Restaurant News, Foursquare‘s Tristan Walker (at right, who is making business development waves with deals with Zagat, Bravo and others) reveals a few very interesting tidbits about how Foursquare is working to cater to restaurant owners (excuse the pun).

Restaurant Analytics Dashboard Testing

The most revealing statement is a confirmation that 30 hand-picked restaurants are alpha-testing, “an analytics dashboard for Foursquare, where [restaurant] owners can pay to create custom offers and badges.” Walker goes on to say, “All of them [restaurant owners] care about two things: retention and acquisition. We help with acquisition by letting you see who comes in where, when, and where they go before and after they stop in.”

How Foursquare looks at Restaurant Chains

Another interesting part of the article is about how Foursquare looks at restaurant chains. When the report asks Walker, “Does this give independents a leg up on chain competitors?”, Walker answers:

“It all comes down to how you use the platform. It’s not meant to be just another tool for ad distribution. If all our venue owners crush it…it allows them to have a voice comparable to a chain with a big advertising budget. Some venues treat it as an extension of couponing, and it can be, but Tasti D-Lite is doing it at the POS system and they’re running their business in a compelling way. Even if national chains want to do this, all parties will benefit, and it won’t come at the expense of anybody else.”

Future plans

Walker goes on to list a number of other very interesting thoughts on how Foursquare plans to go after the restaurant sector, including saying, “Right now, restaurants don’t pay anything. In the future we’ll find a product we can charge for,” and, “if I’m a frozen-yogurt place, and most people coming to my location come from a certain gym down the street, there’s an effective opportunity to cross-promote.”

Obviously, with the Zagat partnership and emerging food-oriented location apps such as Foodspotting gaining popularity (not to mention Yelp and OpenTable which have huge mindshare in the restaurant industry), Foursquare is very keen to attack this market, and they seem to have big plans to do so.