Forget The Mayor, Gowalla Focuses On Serendipitous Deals For All

We’ve all heard about mayor deals with Foursquare. That is, a person who is the “mayor ” of a venue (essentially, has checked-in there the most number of times) gets access to special deals, such free items or discounts. Gowalla goes about its deals a bit differently. Because there are no “mayors” in Gowalla, instead, they’re focusing on giving everyone an equal opportunity to earn special deals.

One such deal launching later today is with Eye-Fi, the makers of memory cards that give devices WiFi capabilities. Starting in a few hours, when a person checks in through Gowalla at any U.S.-based Best Buy or Apple Store, they’ll automatically have a chance to win a free 4 GB Eye-Fi card. A message will pop up on their screen about the card post check-in. And a simple click on the “Did I win?” button below that message will reveal if you’re a winner of the $75 card the spot. There will be 500 winners for this particular promotion.

But even if you don’t win, the check-in grants you access to a coupon code for one year’s worth of free hotspot access if you do choose to purchase an Eye-Fi card. Gowalla founder Josh Williams estimates Eye-Fi is giving away some $35,000 worth of value from this deal alone. “This represents a remarkable opportunity for a brand to promote a product directly to people who are visiting a location where that product is sold. It’s accessible to anyone who checks in on Gowalla, regardless of how many times they’ve checked in or whether or not they’ve been to that location previously,” Williams notes.

That last part is obviously a bit of a shot at Foursquare’s mayor deals — but it’s important to note that Foursquare also has some deals for anyone who simply checks-in to certain venues too. Still, Gowalla’s emphasis on equality is nice and doesn’t require people to compete with crazed location addicts who go to venues everyday simply to secure deals (believe me, in San Francisco, it happens a lot). It’s more about serendipity with Gowalla — you go to a place you’re already going, check-in, and you may earn a free prize.