BOCA RATON, FL, UNITED STATES — With small businesses under so much pressure due to COVID-19, communities are now finding it even more important to leverage new tools to engage consumers and support “Buy Local” and Economic Development campaigns so, thirsty travelers in Maryland now have a fun and easy new way to discover and connect with the state’s growing number of craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries, thanks to the new Maryland Craft Beverage mobile app, created by Boca Raton, FLA-based software developers Local Explorers, a Daruma Tech company, for Grow & Fortify, the advocacy group representing Maryland’s value-added agricultural producers, startups, and growers.
The app, launched on July 7, is a powerful digital upgrade of Maryland’s popular wine, beer, and distillery trail maps. With the Maryland Craft Beverage App, users can pick the trail of their choice and instantly see the winery, brewery, or distillery nearest them, learn about the offerings and hours of operation at venues of interest, and create their own customized trails of favorite spots. The app also incentivizes exploration by letting users check in to venues they visit on the app, earning them points towards badges and branded swag from participating businesses plus communities now have an impactful new way to connect residents and visitors to homegrown businesses and products
The app is already proving to be a hit with Maryland residents, said Jim Bauckman, director of communications for Grow & Fortify. “So far reception is great, we’ve had nearly 2,000 downloads,” he said. He added that there has already been active participation in all three trails, with power users already climbing the app’s leaderboards and checking into multiple venues per day. Communities already using Local Explorers have also found it a practical and cost-effective way to build customer engagement and awareness while working around the challenges of COVID- 19. “It gives us the flexibility and freedom to showcase our members and highlight those that have the capacity to conduct business safely during this weird time,” added Bauckman. “We have lots of open space and outdoor experiences for consumers to make safe visits to their favorite manufacturers throughout the state.”
While the app is designed to let users focus on the beverage trail of their choice, it also helps them discover venues on the other trails as well. “Our goal is to make it so that winery enthusiasts can open the app, explore what they want to explore about wineries, but then maybe also open the map and see nearby that there’s a brewery that they’ve never visited and maybe make that stop, either that same day or at some point in the future,” Bauckman said. “The whole purpose here is to drive business and revenue through the doors of our members.”
Bauckman also sees the trail app, like the paper trail maps formerly distributed at visitors’ centers throughout the state, as a powerful way to connect tourists, as well as residents, to Maryland’s unique offerings. “We’re working with Maryland’s Office of Tourism Development to get rack cards placed in all welcome centers throughout the state. so that when people come into the state and visit our welcome centers, they’ll be able to see that we have this app available and they’ll be able to download it right there,” he said.
He adds that the team at Local Explorers has been a supportive partner during the app’s launch and beyond. “They’ve been great—they’re constantly checking for updates on how the app is working. So, they’re a great partner in making sure that this is going to be a product that remains high quality and remains usable. And I think that that’s all that we can ask for,” he said. The Maryland Craft Beverage App is available for both Android and iOS on Google Play and in the Apple Store.
“Our vision is for the Loyalty Passport app to be local, social, and mobile,” said Susan Erickson of Daruma Tech. “We want each of our apps to reflect and celebrate the unique vibe of its community, and for users to be part of the conversation about the places and communities they visit.” “It can be a community explorers app—the exploring can be more than craft beverages, it can be art installations or natural attractions or retail—it’s all about offering people experiences and making them aware of the resources in their communities.” Erickson added that because communities have different budgetary constraints and growth strategies, the Local Explorers platform is scalable and customizable. Organizations can choose from a basic trail app that provides users with location information, a virtual passport, and mapping capabilities or an expanded version with multilingual capabilities and other enhanced
features. They can design their incentive programs to fit their budgets as well—from user check-in points going towards seasonal raffles to earning branded swag such as t-shirts and hats. And if a community group envisions a feature or functionality not currently offered, the company will work with the community group to make this a reality.
Local Explorers, a division of Boca Raton, Florida-based software developer Daruma Tech, is dedicated to growing local economies by incentivizing shoppers to explore small businesses. Local Explorers fosters engagement and we help visitors’ bureaus, tourism boards, artisanal guilds, and other community advocates amplify their signal, attract new fans, and cultivate enthusiastic repeat visitors through engaging mobile apps custom branded for each community.
For more information, contact Rick Griswold at 561-990-1625.
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