How to Use Gamification to Make Your Historic Business District a Must-See Destination


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a historic business district—your town’s literal or figurative Main Street—is likely one of your favorite places to explore. Exploring a mix of commerce and history, you discover the elements that make the town special, from locally-owned businesses to stunning architecture and public art.

If you’ve reviewed our Strong Towns Strength Test—a ten-question, yes/no questionnaire that gives you insights into the strength of your town—you understand the importance of Main Street. More than any other place, it’s where you can best determine the economic health of your town.

Not through the number of parking spots available. Not through the frequency of “Live, Work, Play” signage. If you want to get a sense of how strong your place is, just count how many people are walking down the sidewalks, standing in the beer gardens, and sitting at the outdoor cafes.

Champions of historic business districts, such as economic developers and tourism commissioners, understand that people support historic business districts. And, therefore, many have created main street associations, promotions, and festivals to foster the experience. But picture this: What if you could go a step further and find ways to enhance the experience for the local and the tourist alike through guided adventures, tailored to your specific historic business district?

You can—through gamification.

It’s an exciting term. But let’s be real: What the heck is gamification and how does it relate to historic business districts?

As you’ll learn from this episode’s guest, Darren Smith—Founder, President, and CEO of Traipse, a gamification company focused on historic business districts—gamification allows you to open an app and take a tour through a historic business district, discovering different “stops,” such as a historic building, a monument, or a locally-owned business.

And the best part: at each stop, you get a puzzle to solve or a puzzle to complete—turning what was once an aimless stroll into an engaging adventure.

In this episode, you’ll learn how you can boost your own historic business district with gamification, including how to use gamification to soup up your tourism industry, get more traffic for merchants, and turn your historic business district into the destination it deserves to be.

(Top photo via Wikimedia Commons.)