Published December 14th, 2016
Find Local Businesses with New Explore Orinda App
By Sora O'Doherty
Sample screen shots of the Orinda App Courtesy Orinda Chamber of Commerce
Did you know that the Orinda Chamber of Commerce membership list includes a zoo?
The Orinda Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled a new smart phone application that allows users to easily locate all of the Chamber businesses - including a zoo - by member category. All Chamber of Commerce member businesses automatically receive a listing in the new Explore Orinda app, which will be updated in real time whenever members update their information with the Chamber. Businesses are listed by approximately 60 categories from accountants to zoos, including auto repair, banks, books, caterers, florists, government, jewelers and mortgages.
The development of the Explore Orinda app was a collaborative effort between the Chamber and Champagne Design, according to Champagne Design owner Lynn McAuliffe. McAuliffe said that her company worked closely with current Orinda Chamber President Roy Hodgkinson,who was instrumental in defining what the app was to accomplish and how it would function. It took nearly a year to define and refine the final product with the app developers. McAuliffe added that they are still working on improvements which they plan to implement soon. Chamber Executive Director Sophie Braccini said that the project was initially funded by a grant from the Orinda Community Foundation and that the Chamber is seeking a further grant for future improvements to the app.
Approximately 90 percent of the businesses included on the app are located in Orinda; the other 10 percent are located in Lamorinda and the surrounding area. Any business may choose to be a member of the Orinda Chamber, like the Oakland Zoo, which has the zoo category all to itself. As soon as a new business joins the Chamber, Braccini adds that business to the Website Member Directory and it will then also be available on the app.
Chamber members are responsible for updating the specific information about their business on the website, including logo, social media links, description and most of all, images that support their
business. The app has a built-in slide show for each business. Clicking on a business in the app brings up a detailed landing page that may include a slideshow of images loaded by the business owner. So, for example, Casa Orinda offers photos of the restaurant interior and a picture of its famous fried chicken.
There is no additional cost to Chamber members to be listed on the mobile app, as it one of the resources that the Chamber has developed to help Chamber businesses expand their marketing reach to the community and visitors to Orinda. The Chamber's strategy to counter the negative effects of online shopping on downtown businesses is to remind people about the benefits of doing business locally and to make local businesses easier to locate.
The Explore Orinda app is now available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play; however Champagne Design is still working out some bugs and planning enhancements. Future improvements may include push notifications for businesses to get the word out to their followers about special events, promotions and sales. Examples of push notifications would be for real estate agents to send out a new home-for-sale listing to their audience as soon as they have the listing available or for a restaurant to announce the details of an event it will be hosting.

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