COCHRANE— Cochrane Tourism has developed a new way to connect businesses, residents and tourists with the launch of the Explore Cochrane app.
Cochrane Tourism Association executive director Jo-Anne Oucharek said they worked closely with local businesses to develop the best way to showcase and connect with long-term residents of Cochrane, new community members and tourists.
“This is really about residents helping the business community through the current situation that we are in,” Oucharek said. “The retail and the tourism places … And the restaurants are all needing some support and some love and we thought this would be a great way to help them over the Christmas season.”
Oucharek said Cochrane Tourism had been exploring ways to use mobile technology to showcase the town for the last couple of years.
Cochrane Tourism partnered with the company 468 Insider to create the app. 468 Insider created the Experience Alberta app for the province, and Cochrane Tourism is proud to be the first community in the province to sign up for their own unique app.
“It was a perfect fit,” Oucharek said. “It gives us another avenue to talk about Cochrane.”
When using the app all of the current tourism partners will be featured appearing on a map with different categories to view.
Users will be able to filter the map to look at dining options, retail options, recreation options and other activities.
“As someone who wants to explore Cochrane they can go to a GPS location based on the map and they might be in a store they’ve never been in before,” Oucharek said.
She added her favourite aspect of the app is that is it easy to use.
Users will be able to explore and learn about business in town using an interactive map. By clicking different pin drops they can learn business's stories and insider tips paired with promotions, sales, specials and other offerings.
“Instead of going to a whole bunch of different locations you can do it in one spot,” Oucharek said. “It’s a really simple way for people to have information at their fingertips.”
They are currently in the process of finishing up the backend work on the app have a group of beta testers who will go out and play with the app before it is released.
In the coming weeks, Cochrane Tourism will be hosting pre-launch celebrations to help users learn about the app, including opportunities to win prizes and learn about reward locations.
The app includes a reward component allowing users to earn points as they explore Cochrane, Oucharek said, adding one of the reward locations has already been selected at the Visitor Information Centre.
All locations will provide 10 points for each visitor which are equal to one dollar. As people collect points they can redeem them for Cochrane Dollars at the Cochrane Tourism Information Centre.
Explore Cochrane will also feature special events like the upcoming 10-day Dine Out Cochrane festival. The event will feature 26 locations and users can immediately check out options, special menus and locations of restaurants in town using the app.
“That gives us the opportunity to reward our visitors and our residents when they participate and go and visit our businesses in town,” Oucharek said. “It’s a great way to be able to support local shopping and local businesses.”
The ultimate hope, she said, is users will learn about the rewards program and the benefits of getting points by shopping locally in Cochrane.
Oucharek added users will also be able to learn about the Open and Safe program when using the app. Open and Safe serves as a way for businesses to show they are adhering to COVID-19 public health measures and are doing everything possible to keep customers safe. The app will include temporary hours and detailed information on participating businesses.
She noted the app will be changing seasonally to reflect the different activities available in town.
“People using the app will be able to find out what we have for winter tours— Where they can get snowshoes. If they want to go cross-country skiing where they can do that,” Oucharek said. “There will always be something new coming on probably a quarterly basis. It will be ever-changing.”
The Explore Cochrane app launches in November and is free for anyone to download on Android, Good Play and Apple iOs.
Users can sign up for early access at explorecochrane.ca website and enter a draw for $250 Cochrane Dollars.