In an era of smartphones, tablets and WiFi hotspots, it’s easier than ever to get information on the road, and Tourism Powell River’s new app will help both visitors and residents discover more about Powell River.
“We’re always looking for ways to reach people outside of our physical location,” says Tracey Ellis, executive director of Tourism Powell River. “We have a great website, the live chat there is well used, and we field thousands of phone calls each year, so the app was the next step.”
Now available for iOS and Android, the Powell River app is a curated database of information specific to the upper Sunshine Coast.
“If you’ve ever used Google to find accommodation or dining in Powell River, you know you have to be careful to check which city the search results are in,” says Tracey. “A lot of times, you get results from Comox, because in terms of distance, we’re very close together, if you don’t count the water in the way. When you use the Powell River app, you’ll know what you find is actually on this side of the Strait of Georgia.”
The app includes a variety of visitor information, and also has information for residents.
“We wanted the app to be a true snapshot of Powell River,” explains Tracey, “so we’ve also included the community guide, which talks about things like garbage and recycling, emergency services and infrastructure.”
Map makes app
The feature that really makes the app is the ‘Near Me’ map.
“The map allows you to browse what kind of businesses are around you, or you can use the category buttons on the bottom of your screen to narrow down what you’re interested in,” says Tracey. “One of our summer students will be updating those listings, so it will become even more up to date over the next few months. We want to encourage people to buy local and stay local, and the map gives you all the information you need to do that.”
Tourism Powell River’s commitment to the local economy also extends to the development of the app, which was done by Apps Canada out of Squamish.
“Apps Canada developed an app for Whistler, and we figured if they can do it for a place like that, they can absolutely do it for Powell River,” says Tracey. “We were their fifth tourism community client, and now there are about 20 centres using the same base app infrastructure. If you learn to use the app here in Powell River – it’s very intuitive, so there’s not much of a learning curve – you’ll be able to have the same kind of app experience when you travel to Osoyoos or Pemberton or Abbotsford.”
The app also supports push notifications, and Tourism Powell River will be experimenting with the best way to use them.
“We know people don’t want their phones dinging constantly, so we’ll be very careful about what we put out,” says Tracey. “Maybe people want to know there are whales off of Willingdon Beach, or that there’s a car accident on Highway 101 south, or a business is offering a flash sale on ice cream. Those are the kinds of things we’d put out.”
Tracey wants Powell River residents to be the app’s beta testers and let her know what works, doesn’t work, and what they like or would like to see.
“The app has come out even better than I thought it would,” she adds. “It’s still new to us, too, so we’d love feedback.”
To download the app, scan the QR code in the ad on page three of the May 12 issue of Peak Midweek, or visit appscanada.ca/powellriver and select the version for your device. Once downloaded, enter the in-app contest for one of three $100 prize packs courtesy of Tourism Powell River.