SOURCE: SCVNGR

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October 13, 2010 11:05 ET

Cities Heart SCVNGR

SCVNGR Launches Official Cities Program, Rolls Out Big in Chi-Town For The Win

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - October 13, 2010) -  Okie doke. Say you're a city ("I'm a city") and you want to take all of the AMAZING STUFF your city offers -- all of those historical tours, festivals, conventions, restaurant weeks, parades, heritage celebrations, commemorative days, hometown pride memorials, shopping districts, hot spots and themes -- and put it up on the location-based social graph so people can use their little mobile devices to engage, play and unlock rewards in a 21st Century way. Oh, and share with the 500+ million people on Facebook and 200 million people on Twitter to get the word out about your city. Well, dontcha?

Today it's possible. And it's possible with SCVNGR. Because today is the launch of Cities on SCVNGR, and it's coming to Chicago first.

This summer, the crackerjack SCVNGR team spent hundreds of hours with folks like Philadelphia's Convention and Visitors Bureau and Boston's Freedom Trail Foundation to set today's stage of working directly with city entities to build city-specific challenges and treks on the SCVNGR game layer. And it was awesome. Similar programs have been rolled out in case-by-case bases ever since, in conjunction with host cities, like Grand Rapids' world-renowned ArtPrize and San Francisco's recent Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. The Find Your Philly Trek helped visitors discover art and history in Philly; the events leading up to the midnight ride of Paul Revere entered the location-based space with the Freedom Trail Trek on SCVNGR.
But today, entire cities can and are launching city-wide, integrated programs on SCVNGR.

Windy City FOR THE WIN!
Chicago is about fun. That's the crystallized adjective here: fun people, fun food, fun architecture, fun music, fun sports and fun(ny) entertainment...the list goes on! SCVNGR is also about fun: fun wherever you go and however you share it. That's why both major tourism entities -- Explore Chicago (the Chicago Office of Tourism) and Choose Chicago (the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau) -- are building and launching on SCVNGR today, as well as the dozens of cultural institutions across the city and many of the major universities in Chicago, to literally blanket The Windy City in the fun SCVNGR location-based game layer.

Explore Chicago: From Millennium Park to Legendary Rock Music and Top-Chef Taco Treats
ExploreChicago.org, the official website of the Chicago Office of Tourism, is nationally recognized as a super tech-savvy tourism organization, always looking to engage residents and visitors in the latest social and mobile ways alongside the seasonal initiatives they are continuously rolling out. That's why Explore Chicago is going live with four treks on SCVNGR that anyone -- from an avid visitor to a neighborhood devotee -- can play in diverse neighborhoods across the city to complete challenges, earn points and unlock awesome rewards:

  • Explore Millennium Park Trek: Millennium Park is an award-winning center and park for art, music, architecture and landscape design, hosting over one hundred free concerts and events each year. Play this family-friendly trek on SCVNGR and uncover behind-the-scenes facts while you complete fun challenges and take photos of iconic art and architecture.
  • Explore Chicago Taco Trek: Chicago is about fun food of all flavors, and tasty tacos are an affordable and delectable force in the city. Visit authentic taquerías in Chicago's Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, try Korean-Mex tacos, a trend that is sweeping the nation and visit the affordable outposts of top-rated chefs. Tacos are popular cheap eats and we want you to taste them all! Whether it's a late-night craving or an all-out daylong adventure, the Explore Chicago Taco Trek on SCVNGR takes you to the most delicious taco hot spots for the best carnitas and carne asadas, including a visit to the Top Chef Master Rick Bayless' Frontera Fresco and Chef Paul Kahan's Big Star in Wicker Park.
  • Bike the Boulevards Trek, with WTTW: Join Explore Chicago and Chicago public television WTTW's Biking the Boulevards with Geoffrey Baer (an upcoming television special), for a bike ride through Chicago! Launch the Bike the Boulevards Trek on your SCVNGR app and ride along broad, tree-shaded streets that form a magnificent, 28 mile-long circle around the city. These thoroughfares will carry you away from the lakefront to Chicago's lesser-known parks, and to neighborhoods at the heart of the city's South, West, and North Sides. Take in the sights, discover the history, and watch Biking the Boulevards, debuting Monday, November 29, 2010 at 7:30pm on WTTW 11!
  • Explore Chicago Music Trek: What do Kanye West, WILCO and the Smashing Pumpkins have to do with SCVNGR? Find out by getting to know Chicago's musically famous roots on a deeper, location-based level by playing the Explore Chicago Music Trek. Whether it's alt-rock, blues, homegrown house, hip-hop or metal, it's all thriving in Chi-Town and yours for the listening! Test your mettle with music trivia, from famous album covers to one notorious college drop-out...even do your own Super Bowl Shuffle at Soldier Field! Chicago is about music, and now you can learn and play along -- all while sharing with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

"We are excited to expand our social media platforms and partner with SCVNGR to challenge people to take photos, answer trivia, and complete fun tasks while exploring the City's diverse neighborhoods," said Dorothy Coyle, Director of the Chicago Office of Tourism. "This is yet another innovative and interactive opportunity for us to educate residents and visitors alike about Chicago's cultural offerings."

CCTB: From Conventions to the Pier, Engaging the Business Visitor Community
Chicago is a leading destination for business and leisure travelers and boasts the largest convention center in the Western hemisphere, McCormick Place, widely considered the "economic engine that powers the city's meetings and conventions industry." As the sales and marketing wing ensuring the economic vitality of the city, the CCTB and ChooseChicago.com is always looking to engage and drive awareness for its member business community in front of the millions of business-oriented visitors each year. On SCVNGR, CCTB is incorporating everything from McCormick Place-specific event content to the popular restaurants and destinations like Navy Pier -- even the presidential history of the city -- into the SCVNGR game layer:

  • Foodie Frenzie Trek: If you're in town for business, you're also in town for some of the best eating around. Why not string some of the deliciousness together and complete the Foodie Frenzie Trek on SCVNGR while you're here? You'll visit places like Garrett Popcorn Shop to the historic Berghoff Restaurant in the Loop. So launch the app and chow down at some of the best eateries in the city!
  • Navy Pier Trek: Navy Pier is a year-round destination, with millions of residents and visitors every year no matter what the season. Now the fun comes to your mobile phone, too, with the Navy Pier Trek on SCVNGR. Just open up the app, select the Navy Pier Trek, and start completing fun and quick challenges all over the Pier itself -- family-friendly learning fun and Pier trivia mixed with the chance to earn points and compete against others in the trek.
  • Presidential Chicago Trek: Chicago is steeped in presidential and political history, including our current commander-in-chief, a Chicagoan himself. Open the Presidential Chicago Trek on SCVNGR to follow the Obama family's own Chicago faves and go-to spots they visit whenever they're in town!
  • McCormick Place Show Trek (customized for large conventions): Millions of industry and business visitors descend on this landmark location for events every year, and those millions should gobble up as much Chicago fun and goodness as humanly possible when they're in town. But also when they're at the convention center all day long. SCVNGR is currently being integrated into conference content to engage attendees in relevant and fun ways, most recently with IMTS 2010, the city's largest conference with 90,000+ attendees.

"Business visitors coming to McCormick Place are on mobile phones already, checking email and sharing via social media. This is a natural extension of the show experience for exhibitors and attendees alike," said Harvey Morris, CCTB's Director, Digital Marketing & Social Media. "And SCVNGR's flexibility in building out custom challenges allows the show organizer to help shape the attendee experience in a way that's fun and engaging."

The launch of Cities on SCVNGR also links the additional cultural and educational in Chicago into the city's game layer, from places such as Chicago Architecture Foundation, Lyric Opera, Skydeck at the Willis Tower, Museum of Contemporary Art, Society of Architectural Historians, The Metro, Comedy Sportz Theatre, SmartBar Chicago and one of the most famous comedy organizations in the world, The Second City. Chicago-based universities are also in on the fun: Loyola Chicago, Trinity Christian, Columbia College, University of St. Francis, and Northwestern University. In addition, dozens of small and local businesses in Chicago rolled out their own challenges and rewards today.

Phew! That's a lot of Chicago AWESOME! Frankly, we're exhausted and you should just start playing.

Hot-Lanta Halloween!
Chicago's not the only city rolling live today. Let's head 700 miles south to Atlanta, where the Halloween party has already kicked off and the Big Boo Halloween Trek on SCVNGR is also going live. Scary spots like Netherworld (the #1 haunted house in the nation) and the Beverly Hills Inn are only part of the SCVNGR spookfest, and the trek's prizes include T-shirts and a free night at the local haunted bed & breakfast. Learn about haunted places, scary experiences -- challenges feature macabre experiences and scary tales.

Cities, Get Hoppin'!
So, cities: now is your time! Help integrate all of the amazing things about your city into the SCVNGR game layer. It's super easy -- just start building out challenges and treks at www.scvngr.com/builder. Connect the tons of great locations, attractions and businesses that make your city AWESOME. We heart you.

About SCVNGR
SCVNGR is a game. Playing is simple: Go places. Do challenges. Earn points! You'll unlock real-world rewards and share where you are and what you're up to with your friends on SCVNGR, Facebook and Twitter. SCVNGR is played via a free iPhone & Android app. But playing SCVNGR is only half of it. Individuals, enterprises, cities and small businesses build on SCVNGR by adding custom challenges and rewards at their locations. SCVNGR is funded by Google Ventures and Highland Capital Partners. Visit www.scvngr.com to learn more.

About Explore Chicago
Along with its partnership with SCVNGR, the Chicago Office of Tourism (COT) was the first destination tourism agency to collaborate with Foursquare to offer customized city badges. COT's strong social media presence extends to a seven-day-a-week Twitter Concierge Service (@explorechicago), featuring visitor service representatives answering questions and providing information in real-time, with a focus on free and discounted events and activities in neighborhoods throughout Chicago. Users can also interact with Explore Chicago on its Facebook page (www.bit.ly/chifacebook), through its Flickr pool (www.bit.ly/chiflickr), and watch neighborhood videos on its YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/explorechicago).

Visitors and Chicagoans planning to entertain out-of-town guests can receive Chicago brochures, reserve hotel accommodations and receive trip-planning assistance by calling toll-free 1.877.CHICAGO (1.877.244.2246), or visiting www.explorechicago.org. Brochures and information on Chicago's exciting events and activities are also available at the Visitor Information Centers. The centers are located at Chicago Water Works, 163 East Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph Street. For those calling from outside the United States, Mexico and Canada, please call 1.312.201.8847. The TTY toll-free number for the hearing impaired is 1.866.710.0294. 

The Chicago Office of Tourism, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is the official City agency dedicated to promoting Chicago to domestic and international visitors and to providing innovative visitor programs and services.

About Choose Chicago
The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) is the sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a premier meetings and convention destination driving bookings into McCormick Place, Navy Pier and member hotels. The CCTB works in partnership with its more than 1,100 members; the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, owner and operator of McCormick Place and Navy Pier; Chicago Office of Tourism; World Business Chicago, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Bureau of Tourism, and other related associations.

Contact Information

  • Media contacts:
    Emilie Cole for SCVNGR
    scvngr [at] launchsquad.com
    415-625-8555

    Kiran Advani and Kristin Unger for Chicago Office of Tourism
    kiran.advani [at] cityofchicago [dot] org
    312-742-4983
    kristin.unger [at] cityofchicago [dot] org
    312-742-1080

    Meghan Risch for CCTB
    mrisch [at] choosechicago [dot] com
    312-567-8540