Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bizzy Checks Out

Over the past few months, my co-author, Mike Schneider, and I have been keeping a closer eye on local business recommendation engine, Bizzy. Mike and I have both know VP of marketing, Ryan Kuder and community manager, Elysa Rice for a while. And I was lucky enough to have Ryan on the Quick'n'Dirty podcast show a few months back (Ryan was definitely one of our more engaging guests).

The reason I bring up Bizzy is that they are announced a groundbreaking new feature today called the "check-out." Yes, many of us that use location based services like foursquare and Gowalla are quite familiar with the concept of "checking-in" to a location. But checking out? What's that all about. Well, the key is that Bizzy doesn't care which service you use to check in. But when you are ready to check out, you can leave a simple review. As you can see in the screen shot to the left, this can be as simple as picking one of the three faces to let you know what you thought of the business you just patronized. Or, you can leave a Twitter-esque review that gets added to the tip of that particular venue.

Bizzy was kind enough to let Mike and I play with this functionality for the last week or so. My initial thoughts are that I like the new functionality a lot. In particular, I liked the ability to add my $.02 on the location I was visiting which I often forget to do when I'm checking into a venue. The interface was very easy to use given how simple and straightforward it was.

With that said, there are a couple of things I'd like to see in the future:
  1. It would be nice if Bizzy physically checked you out of the location using the service you checked in with e.g. Gowalla, Facebook Places, foursquare. I know this is tricky because I don't believe any of these services currently offer up a "limbo" or "I'm not checked in anywhere" state which would be required.
  2. I know I was testing an alpha version of the product (using a very cool development environment called Test Flight) but sometimes I couldn't always find the venue I checked into to check out of. For instance, I went to a local festival here in Austin on Sunday and while I was able to check in on Gowalla [Austin Kite Festival at Zilker Park], I wasn't able to check out on Bizzy. Hopefully this is a matter of expanding the geo-database over time and making it more real time.
If you don't use Bizzy yet, I'd suggest checking it out. They provide some great local recommendations based on information you provide. And with the added bonus of the check out, you can now review all your favorite (or un-favorite) venues in seconds.

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