An inside look at Northeast Washington's new tourism app

By: 
KATIE LEITHEAD
S-E Staff Reporter

Northeast Washington just got more modern with a new mobile app focused on bringing tourism to the tri-counties.

Tri County Economic Development District (TEDD) launched the new mobile app Northeast Washington Insider. This is a wayfinding tool that encourages tourists and residents to visit local businesses within Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille County.

“We created 468 Insider to give people more incentives for engaging in the communities they visit,” said Tim Fry, President of 468 Communications. “Northeast Washington Insider will make it fun to explore all that Northeast Washington has to offer, while rewarding visits to the local businesses that make this region so unique.”

TEDD tried to cover all of the tri-county area with points of interest in each town.

“We've really tried to cover the whole area, and that's one of the things I like best about this project; it's something that can broadly benefit the whole area. It's not something Colville specific,” said TEDD regional marketer Shelly Stevens.

All of the businesses so far included on the app focus on tourism: lodging, food and beverage locations and attractions. This also includes businesses that support tourism activities, like sports and hardware stores. None of the businesses have to pay to be on the app, and the app is free for anyone to download.

In order to launch the app, TEDD found all of the businesses themselves, tracking down pertinent information. At the time of launch, Stevens said, “Most of the businesses don't even know about the app or that they're on it.”

TEDD has since worked on notifying over 200 businesses with information about the app.

“We tried our best to find all of those businesses,” said Stevens, noting that more businesses can be added in the future if they missed some.

The Heritage Network worked with TEDD to supply the historical site locations and images.

Gamification

Users of the free app can earn points by simply visiting these places. Points can then be redeemed for goods or services at local participating businesses.

Each business has the option to control their own point reset period, to determine how often someone can collect points from their specific business. It could be a short time period like once every day, to the longer once a year option. TEDD is currently recommending that participating businesses start with a 30 day cycle. Historical locations started automatically set to a year.

“You can't go to some monument, roadside marker everyday on your way home from work and collect points,” Stevens noted.

The app’s “Explore” button takes users to the map of the tri-county area which has pins indicating destinations around the region. Clicking on each pin on the map gives more information about that place. Locations are assigned a point value which can be collected when one is within GPS range of a location. Pushing the “Collect Points” button while physically visiting a location will add the location’s points to a user’s point total. Most point collection locations are worth ten points, which was the default amount.

Points accumulated with Northeast Washington Insider can be redeemed for goods or services at rewards locations listed in the app. For instance, by redeeming 100 points (collected by simply visiting ten places), users of the app can earn a 15 percent discount off their purchase at the ChewVino wine bar in Chewelah or for 50 points they can get a free bucket of golf balls for the driving range at the Chewelah Golf Course.

“Our big push is to encourage businesses to become a reward redemption location, because that's what's really going to make the app exciting,” said Stevens. “The more of those rewards on the app the more fun it'll be to go out and collect points.

“Even if all they do is walk in the door of a business they haven't been in before, that's a win. That's exposure for a business owner.”

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