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Visit Oxford to beef up website, app

The Oxford Tourism Council approved Wednesday spending $10,000 from the Blue Cross, Blue Shield Healthy Home Grown grant that it was awarded last year to help update Visit Oxford’s website and I-phone application.

To help satisfy conditions of the grant, the interactive map will be updated to include walking and biking trails and routes.

“It’s to help visitors and citizens be more active while they’re here,” said Visit Oxford assistant director Kinney Ferris Wednesday.

Sayre Creative, the company that developed the current iOS app proposed to build a new version, 2.0, for the app that would be released around the Double Decker Arts Festival, and then a complete 2.5 version would be released around June.

App features

The app will include push notifications to promote special events, more up-to-date information on area businesses and promotions and various features to promote healthy living, such as guided walking tour directions, area bike routes and trails, expanded information about amenities are area parks and a new category for fitness-related businesses.’

Ferris said the current interactive map that shows a picture of a historic building and audio describing the building and its history.

“But there’s no GPS features to give directions to the next point on the map,” Ferris said.

The new version would allow for GPS functions so those taking the walking guided tour will see how to get to the next location. It will also include a walking tour of the Yokna Sculpture Trail; will intergrade Visit Oxford’s Twitter feed and calendar feed; have custom icons for each point of interest to make the map more readable.

In June, additional features added in the 2.5 version could include restaurant specials, menus, and music with links to relevant apps such as Open Table and Yelp.

iPhones only

Commissioner Katie Morrison asked if the private businesses being featured on the app would be paying for the advertisement of their business.

“I don’t mean a lot, but if we’re leading visitors to a specific yoga studio or cooking class or restaurant, I feel a discussion we need to have is whether we want some type of fee structure,” she said. “At least to help cover our maintenance costs for the website and the app.”

Currently, the application is only available for iOS phones and not androids.

The contract with Syre is for $6,000. The remaining $4,000 goes to the website developer, Confit, owned by James Kelleway who would update the website to make sure it and the app are in synch and sharing the correct information and allow the app to source data from the website to the app. A new administrative section will be developed to allow Visit Oxford employees to update the walking tours, sculpture tail tour and walking and bike routes to the website which would filter to the app.

The app was developed last year as a Leadership Lafayette team project. The team set up the app and raised the funds to have it established at no cost to Visit Oxford. The $10,000 for the updates will come from a grant.

“I say we do this, see how it goes and revisit it down the road,” Morrison suggested.