City of Vaughan Recreation & Culture Department finds success and profit with smartphone app

Wed, Jul 15,2015 @ 04:00 PM
by Brendan Marsello |

Vaughan_3-217108-editedIn the current age of smartphones, it seems like there is an app for everything. Now add community education to the list.

The City of Vaughan Recreation and Culture Department was faced with residents who wanted to access high-level contact information, schedules, and event locations right from their smartphones. This led to the development of the Rec&Culture app, an innovative and easy to use smartphone app that has revolutionized how Vaughan residents get their community education and recreation information.

Over 71 percent of Canadians are now using smartphones and through surveying, the City of Vaughan Recreation and Culture Department was able to determine that the vast majority of residents wanted to use that platform to access community education and recreation information. Instead of waiting for an app like this to be developed, they took on the project themselves! They worked with Guidebook to develop an app that was free to users and provided all the information and usability they needed.

The app is fully integrated with the City of Vaughan’s traditional website and provides an interactive Recreation eGuide that links directly to online registrations, allowing residents to register for classes from anywhere. They can also look up class schedules, location information, upcoming cultural events, and faculty bios right from their phones. The Rec&Culture app even provides users with maps of the city’s trail systems and park locations and it even has a local news feed. The app has become essential for all residents of the City of Vaughan.

All this sounds amazing, but it must have cost a fortune, right? No. The City of Vaughan was able to do all this with a one-time $1,000 investment. This investment has led to over 11,000 engaged users so far, with more joining every day. The cost per user is $0.09 and the cost will continue to go down as more residents join.

Aside from this direct engagement, since the launch of the app, social media engagement has been up 180 percent, youth participation in events has increased 50 percent, and resident attendance at special events has gone up by 35 percent. If all this wasn’t enough, the Rec&Culture app has actually saved the City of Vaughan money by reducing print material costs. They have estimated a yearly savings of $1,000 on community center printed materials and $6,000 – $8,000 on youth initiatives. These saving far surpass the cost of the app and actually make the free, community education app profitable.

The City of Vaughan Recreation and Culture Department has set an example of how a community education program with a limited budget can take advantage of new technology and provide their residents with what they want. Too often, we wait for new technology to fall in our laps, but the City of Vaughan has taken the initiative themselves and it has been an overwhelming success. They are now helping four other municipalities launch their own Guidebook app.

For all these reasons, LERN is proud to present the City of Vaughan Recreation and Culture Department with the Award for Outstanding Marketing!

Read about the other 2015 LERN International Award winners. 

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