Visitors and residents of the city of Bedford can now explore the locality with Bigfoot in an interactive treasure hunt-style experience through an app called Traipse.
Part of the city’s tourism initiatives, Traipse creates puzzle treasure hunts to promote local tourism and small businesses in various communities.
The themed interactive excursions aim to increase tourism and support the local economy through engaging educational paths, also offering physical activity and mental exercise. Bedford users can download the app to a smartphone from www.traipse.co, advertised by the famous US cryptid Bigfoot.
“Bigfoot is like our spokesperson,” said Mary Zirkle, coordinator of the City of Bedford Economic Development Authority. “Our ‘squatch’”.
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Themed explorations are developed with Traipse. History-based excursions or small business tours are two popular examples. Bedford has opted for a path that focuses on small local businesses in its Centertown area, but Zirkle hopes to expand Traipse’s offering in the future to include the city’s many historic sites.
There are currently 32 stops along the route, which starts at the Bridge Street Café. Initially, Zirkle had planned around 50 stops, combining local businesses and historical sites. However, he said he had to cut it in half due to the available funding.
The Traipse venture was funded by a $ 24,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. The money was part of a state initiative aimed at helping businesses and tourism recover from the effects of COVID-19, Zirkle said.
Bedford fared quite well during the pandemic in terms of small businesses, actually adding several new businesses in the area and expanding some existing small businesses, he said. Promoting tourism helps strengthen local businesses.
Zirkle has long been interested in using an app to promote local tourism and business. He was persistent in his search for a viable option.
“I got a quote about how much it would cost to build an app for the city, and I said, ‘There’s no way we can afford – anything – $ 80,000 to customize an app,'” Zirkle said.
Yet she did not give up. A contact with the Virginia tourism company told her about Traipse.
“He just started with a great idea for an app that we couldn’t afford,” said Zirkle.
With codes to crack and puzzles to solve, incentives like discounts or free samples could be offered at different stops for users who solve them. Local businesses in central Bedford supported the Traipse initiative, Zirkle said.
After discussions with Zirkle and his colleagues from the Bedford County Tourism Department to formulate a vision, a two-person team from Traipse came to town to explore the downtown area. They selected small businesses to include based on a list of recommendations provided by city staff, created puzzles and puzzles to solve related to each destination, then mapped the route and made it available on the app.
Overall, “developing the tour took a day and a half of field work and another week of database work to load everything into the app,” according to Austin Auclair, director of creative content at Traipse.
“We don’t always send more people to arrange a tour, but two of us really wanted to check out Bedford,” Auclair said in an email. “Also, for tours that emphasize small businesses, it helps Traipse to have two people on the scene: one person to talk to the staff and learn about the company’s history and priorities, and another to focus on building the puzzles for the company. treasure hunt. We try to build our treasure hunt puzzles to physically bring customers into businesses and to get customers to slow down and actually pay attention to what those businesses offer. “
The Bedford Traipse Experience was launched on Wednesday.
Joining other Virginia locations on the platform, Zirkle said this puts the town of Bedford at a more prominent place in the Virginia is for Lovers state tourism campaign.
Traipse is used throughout Virginia, including tours to Staunton, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Fredericksburg, and Abingdon, Augusta, and Shenandoah counties.