by Rick Langenberg:
Cripple Creek casino veterans riding the mobile app wave.
Cripple Creek casino employee veterans Bill Rentfrow and John Applegate for years have encountered a slew of questions from visitors and gamblers, such as: where to eat, how to survive the high altitude, where can we find the donkeys, what to do with our kids and what are the best local attractions for a day trip. And the two employees, who currently work at Century Casino, had their own personal horror stories about getting stuck in parts of Colorado and desperately surfing from one web site to another on their computer or smart phone in an effort to find relief.
Finally, they came up with an ambitious solution: Let’s do an (mobile) app. After all they both were quite savvy regarding gaming and computer technology and had quite a knack for knowing what information visitors and locals needed for a good, quality time in the Creek. Plus, with the explosion of mobile devices, what better way to put Cripple Creek, Victor and southern Teller on the map and devise a native application for the burgeoning interest in Apple iPhones, iPads, iPods and other new mobile wonder toys on the market. “Nobody was really showcasing our community,” said Applegate, who has much experience in the Cripple Creek gaming industry and even worked previously in Atlantic City. “We really want to see this area flourish.”
A one-time dream of making life easier for Cripple Creek/Victor travelers, locals and business operators has finally become official with the new Cripple Creek Mobile, the first travel app ever developed for a small or rural community in Colorado. It features a comprehensive data base of nearly 300 items of useful information regarding casinos, lodging, dining, parking, kids’ activities, community announcements, transportation, road conditions, historic attractions, emergency services, local promotions and special deals, along with a wide assortment of maps and unique graphics. It is available now through any Apple mobile device, but that access could extend to other products in the future.
Better yet, it offers a one-stop, one-button, super-fast access to hundreds of local outlets. “We did the work so you can have all the fun,” noted Applegate. “It is historic,” said Mike Perini a marketing consultant for the two Creek employees, who have started a mobile software company called Osage Apps, based in Florissant. According to Perini, the owner of Perini & Associates, no small or rural community (defined as a town or city with less than 15,000 people) in Colorado has their own app product.
The process didn’t occur overnight and required more than a year of research and extensive software work. Also, Osage had to receive the final okay from Apple for its app. The company, through the assistance of Perini & Associates, even used a focus group to test the mobile app. The results of the users clearly gave Cripple Creek Mobile the clear go-ahead, with every potential customer liking something different about the service. Some craved the graphics and GPS map features, while others enjoyed the quick information on attractions, kids’ activities and promotion. “You can find lots of apps for large American cities like New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, but very few mobile apps are available for small and rural communities,” said Rentfrow, the company’s director of research and development. “This app gives locals and tourists alike a wealth of information about Cripple Creek and Victor and will be a model for other small towns to follow.”
The response has been so strong for Osage Apps that the company is now featuring an app for Central City and Black Hawk.
“Wow,” has been the reaction of many long-time casino employees, managers and even some community leaders, according to the company owners. “A lot of people up here didn’t realize what was in front of their face,” quipped Applegate, the company’s director of software development, in describing the many amenities Cripple Creek and Victor has to offer. These are fully outlined in detail through Cripple Creek Mobile. Ultimately, the new service is mainly aimed at making travel much easier for Cripple Creek visitors, and offers ways for local businesses to showcase special promotions and deals. “We are in the guest business,” said Rentfrow. “They (Cripple Creek tourists, gamblers and families) are coming to our town to visit. How can we best make their experience as stress-free as possible?”
In some ways, the company owners see their app as playing the role as a mini-travel ambassador and tourist guide. In addition, the Osage Apps owners see their service as riding the wave of a burgeoning market. According to Perini, preliminary business projections have indicated that by 2014 “mobile will overtake fixed Internet access.” He sees an endless amount of potential for the company and for the Cripple Creek Mobile service.
For right now, the company is sticking with Apple devices. But in the future they may consider making it applicable for a full range of Android apps and other products. The Cripple Creek app also has benefits for rural communities, especially for small business owners who don’t have the time or expertise to develop and maintain individual websites or want to worry about constant high tech-connection problems in the mountains. Many of the items, available through Cripple Creek Mobile, can be accessed off-line. Other special features include quick-viewing screens, adaptable platforms for local businesses, GPS location services, social sites, special call buttons and considerable flexibility.
The Osage owners have worked together at several local casinos in Cripple Creek and developed a strong love for the area. “We really developed a mutual respect for each other. We are in this together,” said Applegate. Ironically, the idea of a Cripple Creek app was prompted after one of the company owners had a bad experience getting stuck in another part of Colorado. Plus, as veterans of the local gaming industry since the mid- 1990s, the two have seen the flat revenue numbers and want to do what they can to boost tourism and visitor enhancement. “This place has so much potential,” said Rentfrow
Cripple Creek Mobile is now available for only $1.99 in the United States and is priced accordingly in other regions. The app is available worldwide via the AppleAppStore.
For more information, visit www.osageapps.com, Twitter@Osageapps, or call Mike Perini at 651-5943.