The Long Passport Apps Journey

I write this as I approach inbox zero. To say that I’m exhausted is an understatement, but it’s by choice and I’m excited about why I am this tired.

The latest versions of Winery Passport and Brewery Passport hit the App Store on Wednesday. The work getting these two versions there started back in mid-December — I can’t belive that’s about four months ago.

Winery Passport Business CardAt the time, I was happy with the mild success both apps were having in the App Store, as well as with our winery and brewery partners. But I knew something was missing. So I went searching and talked to a lot of really smart people in the mobile/social/digital wine space to pick their brains.

The common theme out there was that there are no apps in the wine space, nor in general, that facilitate the direct conversation between a business and a user. If you like a Facebook page, sure a business can contact you, and there are some other similar examples. But an app like Foursquare, where you check-in and essentially tell the business “hey, I’m here,” but the business can’t do anything about it kind of stinks, right?

So I rebuilt the app from the ground floor up. The first thing that had to be done was get the design to work on larger screen sizes, like the iPhone 6 and 6+. So I moved away from the multiple XIBs I was using and overly graphical interface and made everything native. I also updated the database so the apps work better offline, and in general, are just faster.

For my techie readers, I also moved away from multiple projects for Winery Passport and Brewery Passport and now just use one project with multiple targets. I can’t tell you how much time the one XIB and multiple targets has saved me. These were worth the investment right there.

Then I started building out features, the biggest of which was the message center. This goes back to the “conversation” piece I mentioned before. I needed a way for our Recommended Winery or Brewery partners to be able to communicate with the consumers that step into their tasting rooms. But I didn’t want this conversation to happen through email — it would be wrong to pass along someone’s contact info and painful to have to re-write the privacy policy.

So I built a custom message center for our partners to be able to send messages (offers, tasting deals, etc.) to anyone who has stamped at their business or has it on their wish list. For users, who will get a push notification with each message received, this is a great feature because there’s already a brand affinity. That means you’re more likely to want to purchase from the company, especially because there’s nostalgia from your past visit.

For wineries and breweries, I also built a custom dashboard solution where they can log in to see details like number of stamps, how many took place at their business, top 25 competitors your stampers are stamping at and lots more. It’s really a cool collection of data for these businesses.

From updating the icon, creating video previews (Watch: Winery Preview | Brewery Preview), the website and social media channels, and all communication information, this was a huge undertaking. It took a lot longer than I expected, but I have to respect the family time after my full-time gig, especially with a four-month old in the house. In the end, I’m really excited about the product. So are others, including Forbes, which had a great profile on Winery Passport.

Check out Winery Passport and Brewery Passport. Let me know what you think.

2 Comments

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  1. 1
    Ram Srinivasan

    Well written article Scott. Two way communications are an important factor. In many applications out there, especially ones where transactions are abundant and service touch points can lead to significant friction, the lack of conversation leads to Social media noise which is much more problematic for brands. This conversation could lead to a lot more value for the brands too. Keep up the good work Scott

  2. 2
    Scott Stanchak

    Thanks, Ram! Your point about lack of conversation leads to social media noise is spot on. Getting that platform to start the conversation is key though. That’s what I’m hoping the apps will do.

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