Waco app makes tourism easy

The new “Waco,TX” app by MobileTown aids tourists on their adventures around Waco. It features self-guided walking tours and gives users suggestions for places to shop and eat. Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

Visitors to the city of Waco can now find their way around through the newly released city of Waco app, Waco, TX, available for download for both iPhones and Androids.

“It’s been out for about a month,” said Susan Morton, tourism manager for the City of Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’ve been really impressed with the success of it. We weren’t sure if anyone would use it because we have a mobile website but figured we would give it a try because people asked for it, and it’s taken off like wildfire.”

The app focuses on things such as what visitors can do in Waco, places to shop and places to eat. It can be used by residents, too, but information such as what day trash will be picked up cannot be found on the app, Morton said. The app allows users to learn about local attractions, contact and locate businesses, connect via social media, read recent news and get information about upcoming events, according to the City of Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

“Residents can use it, too. Obviously, we want residents to have fun in their hometown,” Morton said. “But because we’re the visitors bureau, our goal is to bring people to Waco to visit and make sure they have the best possible time.”

Morton said the app has been downloaded 1,500 times since its creation. The app offers the same information as the mobile website, but in a different format. The mobile-friendly website has more information than the app, but the app has the information that people primarily look at through the website.

Morton said that the bureau analyzed the top 10 things people looked up to put on the app. Because it was created with the company MobileTown, Morton said they have the ability to update the app whenever necessary. Since things change so quickly in Waco, this is a capability that works to the city’s advantage.

“What we do is monitor stuff that people search for, and we can update it as we need to in order to keep the app current,” Morton said. “During football season, the app may look different because we will have tailgating information on there. We can also showcase current festivals and events, like the homepage of our website. We can change it to give you a quick glance of what’s going on now.”

The app features self-guided walking tours of different features about Waco. These include tours of downtown art and spots associated with “Fixer Upper.” Morton said they’re looking at adding a walking tour of the Baylor campus. A QR code is being added to different resources around town so people can scan quickly and go to the app store to download the app. This makes it easy for people to find and easy to get the word out.

“I think the new Waco app represents how Waco is an up-and- coming city,” said Peoria, Ill., freshman Lindsay Walton. “It also shows how the city is leveraging the success of ‘Fixer Upper’ to benefit different businesses and events of the city. I’m really excited to watch the further growth of Waco over the next four years.”

Morton said they would like to keep the momentum of the app’s growth going. Any reprinted materials in the future will have the information of the app printed on it, and district guides and downtown maps will also feature the QR code and app information. This keeps everything cohesive and linked together. Morton said she hopes that if people like the app, they’ll review it online, and she asks if there are any issues, to report them so they can be immediately updated.

“It’s always fun to put a lot of work into something and see that people value what you did,” Morton said. “It’s been awesome to see so many downloads so quickly. The responses and feedback we’ve had have been really good.”