(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
Now you can have Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties in the palm (or at the touch of a finger?) of your hand. Tri-County Economical Development District (TEDD) has recently launched the Northeast Washington Insider app which allows people to explore the tri-county area and earn points for discounts at local businesses for doing so. TEDD hopes the app will encourage visitors and locals alike to enjoy more of what Northeast Washington has to offer. The app uses the 468 Insider platform from 468 Communications. “Northeast Washington is steeped in Tribal and Western heritage and a wide range of family-friendly activities and adventures,” said Jeff Koffel, Executive Director of TEDD. “468 Insider has allowed us to easily and cost effectively create an app that makes exploring the region fun while promoting our local business community.”
TEDD Regional Marketing & Tourism Developer Shelly Stevens along with marketing intern Alison Stevens spent several months inputting information into the app to better represent the entire tri-county area. “At first we thought we would ask each individual Chamber of Commerce to maintain their local business listings on the app, but many of those chambers are all volunteer-run, so we realized that was asking them a lot,” Stevens said. “We also found out it was much more efficient to input the information ourselves.”
“As a “wayfinding tool” for tourists, the app’s “Explore” button takes users to the map of the tri-county area. On the map users will see pins that indicate destinations in the region. These include historic sites, restaurants, shopping and many other destinations. Clicking on each pin opens a window with more information. When the user is within a certain GPS range of a location they can collect points. All locations are worth ten points. A user can collect points from historic locations once per year, and business locations default to once every thirty days, but business owners can have TEDD set that time period to whatever they would like. Business locations also have the option of becoming a Point Redemption location, where app users can redeem an amount of collected points for discounts and goods.
ChewVino wine bar in Chewelah, for example, offers a 15 percent discount for app users when they redeem 100 points. The Selkirk Motel in Colville offers a 10 percent discount for 300 points.
Alison Stevens, TEDD’s summer marketing intern, spent a lot of time visiting the tri-county area and scouting out locations for the app. What surprised her the most was how many eclectic and interesting shops and restaurants one can find in the area along with the historical points of interest. “You’ll get to these areas and go ‘how is this here’” Alison said. “It made me think why even go on vacation somewhere else when we have so much here.”
There are currently more than 300 locations included on the app, and more are being added. At this time the focus is on tourism-related businesses: lodging, food and beverage, and attractions and recreation. Business owners can contact TEDD at 684-4571 if they would like their business added, or if they would like to become a Rewards Redemption location.
Over time the app will also provide TEDD with data that will help inform future Northeast Washington marketing efforts and provide insight that can be used to guide investment in assets that will support economic development for the region.
Northeast Washington Insider is available for free download on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.