Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will be able to use the NFC-based service to communicate with regular customers and provide them with incentives for inviting friends to meet up at the venue.
Finnish start-up 6Starz has unveiled a new social networking service based on NFC and QR code technology that is designed to enable venues such as bars and restaurants to build stronger links with their existing customers and to attract new customers via viral marketing.
The new service includes an app that resides on consumers' mobile phones, a web service where users can manage their friend connections and profiles and a web-based dashboard venue operators can use to connect with their customers, see who has checked in to their venue and set up special offers and other promotions.
Interfaces to a range of existing social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are also included.
Users register once with 6Starz to begin using the service at any venue registered with the service. They can then touch their NFC phone to a tag to check in to a location, make friends online with people they meet by touching two NFC phones together and redeem coupons received from venue owners.
These coupons can be set by the owner to be triggered the first time a user checks in and also to only deliver a benefit when a user arranges to meet up with a minimum number of friends at the venue. Incentives for visiting on days or times of day that are usually quieter than normal can also be set up by the venue owner, either in advance or as required.
The first pilot test of the 6Starz service is due to go live at several bars and nightclubs run by leading Finnish restaurant chain Restamax in mid-2011.
"We are always eager to try and test new types of innovations with the objective of boosting our business," explains Restamax's Jani Vehka-aho. "Social media and networking are hot topics today, but are often difficult to put into practice, especially, with clear benefits and ROI calculations... There is a promising potential in the 6Starz service as a new concrete means to manage customers via a social network. We are eager to pilot and further develop the service, together with the 6Starz team."
A number of university campuses are also interested in testing the new service, 6Starz founder and CEO Dr Mikko Kerttula told NFC World at the Wima conference and exhibition in Monaco last week, and the company is also looking to deploy the service on a one-off basis for special events.
Exact pricing for the new service is yet to be set but Kerttula aims to make 6Starz available to venues for a monthly fee in the region of €100.