By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
The Convention & Visitors Bureau of Marion County’s new mobile application is showing tourists and area residents what makes the county special.
The “Marion County CVB” app was launched Dec. 5 at Heston Farm Winery in conjunction with the retirement party for longtime executive director Marianne Moran, said new interim director Leisha Elliott. Developed by Agile5 Technologies Inc., this free app for iPhone and iPad can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.
Elliott said the app includes all the information available on the CVB’s website, www.marioncvb.com. The CVB makes changes to its site on a daily basis, including adding items to the calendar and listing new businesses, and the app is automatically updated to reflect those changes.
With the growth in technology and people using their phones to do so many things, the CVB felt it was important to offer a mobile app to the public, she said.
Agile5 Technologies is a small, woman-owned company that is based in Morgantown and has an office in Fairmont. In 2011, CEO Lisa Fritsch founded the business, which focuses on government contracting and mobile application development.
Chet Tobrey, vice president of research and development, spent about four months creating the “Marion County CVB” app, which was the company’s first app. Agile5 Technologies hopes to develop more apps for clients in tourism or the health care industry.
He said the “Marion County CVB” app maps places out, gives directions, and allows users to call businesses or heritage sites.
“It’s a good opportunity for people who are in the area to know how to get around,” Elliott said. “It’s something that’s right here at their fingertips.”
The map feature can tell users how to get to any restaurant or attraction in the county based on their current location, she said.
Tobrey said people can save items that they like to their list of favorites. Users can also check out the CVB’s calendar, and add events to their own calendar and get reminders. The CVB’s Facebook posts will also continually be updated on the app.
“It’s always up to date,” he said. “Anytime a business closes or hopefully opens, it will get that as soon as it comes out.”
Elliott said the CVB is very pleased with the finished product, which has a nice, clean design and has already been downloaded by many people.
According to Tobrey, the app has had more than 100 downloads in the month that it has been out. He said he’s heard from local people that they are discovering attractions in Marion County that they didn’t know existed.
The CVB is trying to get the word out about this new offering through its website, blog and Facebook, Elliott said. The organization also has a poster in its office with a QR code, which people can scan using their smartphones to go to the app.
“We’re excited to kind of keep with the technology that’s available,” she said. “I think as more and more communities do that, it makes it easier for the traveler.”
In 2013, the CVB plans to redesign its website and produce a new visitor guide, and will make sure all that information integrates well into the app, Elliott said.
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.