The Town of Cochrane, Alta. has an answer to every visitor who ever asked what's there to do around here? Now, there's an app for that.

It's called Explore Cochrane is an easy app to use. Once it’s downloaded onto a smart phone it uses a map feature to find local businesses in the town just west of Calgary. But it also provides more than location - users can learn about the business before they even enter it.

Jo-Anne Oucharek, the executive director of the Cochrane Tourism Association, was looking for a way to help local businesses struggling with making ends meet during the pandemic.

“We are the first  to launch this platform under Economic Developments of Alberta,” said Oucharek. “They have a platform called Experience Alberta and Cochrane jumped on board and became the first community to showcase what we have here and our local business community.”

Oucharek says the app is targeted at locals from Cochrane right now to help them learn what’s in their own back yard. In addition to listing participating businesses, the app also has an ‘explore’ section to learn more about local public art pieces, activities and hiking trails.

Rewards element

There is also a rewards element to the app. When you enter a business it activates a GPS function and you get points to redeem into the town’s own currency that are accepted at 100 local businesses.

“So for every 10 points you collect it’s equal to one Cochrane dollar,” said Oucharek. “After you go to 10 businesses and you collect 100 points you can come to the Visitor Information Centre and you can redeem them for 10 Cochrane dollars.”

Julia Lutchman has run a travel business in Cochrane for the last five years called Evexia Travel.  She had to shift gears when COVID-19 hit because no one was travelling. Now she operates the town’s only used book and record store out of the same space.

“I think it’s going to be a game changer for us if I’m honest actually,” said Lutchman. “Because our signage all says Evexia Travel and right now that’s not really appealing to very many people.”

Kelly Sinclair has spent her whole life in Cochrane and likes the idea of an app to promote local business.

"Being able to explore and get to know more of the businesses that are here and have an incentive even to go inside and check them out, I know I will be doing lots of that when it comes to Christmas shopping this year," said Sinclair. "I want to make sure I do as much local shopping as possible."

Learn more about the app here: explorecochrane.ca