A Strong Towns Strength Test suggests that you can determine the economic health of a city by looking at how many people are strolling along Main Street during the middle of the day.
Richmond already does a lot to encourage people to come downtown and explore our Main Street. We offer free on-street parking and a spacious parking garage. We’re upgrading our surrounding roads and side streets and adding bike paths. We have wide sidewalks, great landscaping, and beautiful architecture. There’s a diverse collection of locally-owned businesses who care deeply about their craft and community. We have open plazas and central parks. We have festivals, parades and a vibrant farmer’s market.
What else can we do to bring people downtown? And how can we enhance their experience when they’re there?
Here’s one idea.
The folks at Traipse have brought gamification to historic downtown districts just like ours. Their mobile app brings a new kind of creativity to exploring Main Street by guiding locals and tourists through adventures that not only educate and encourage discovery of what might not be obvious, but that also offer puzzles, games and competitive exercises. These fun stops bring the surrounding city to life, and can provide visitors with discounts and coupons for local businesses along the way.
Once the local tour and stops are set up initially, it’s free for users and local businesses to participate.
Imagine what Richmond’s Downtown and Depot Districts could do with this!
- A history and architecture tour
- A food / wine / brewery / chocolate tour
- An arts tour
- All of the above combined
If we expanded the idea to the broader Wayne County region, think about what we could do with visitor adventures focused on agritourism, outdoor playgrounds and trails, impressive local industry and entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and more.
I know I’d play. Would you?
If you like this idea, check out a conversation about Boosting Historic Business Districts with Gamification.
No, an app or a coupon is not going to address every challenge facing our central business district. But maybe gamifying visits to Main Street would help people encounter it in new ways, and remind them of just what an important part of our community it is.