It started as a ‘what if’ born of too much thinking time over Christmas, and if I’m honest, it escalated pretty quickly once we realised it needed to be a monthly thing.

I (and the family – to their credit*) have been engrossed in the world of Geocaching for the last couple of years. Geocaching, if you’ve not heard of it, is a sort of uber-geeky treasure hunt involving real-world locations. It’s also the perfect answer to the question “How can I accurately quantify, and subsequently win at ‘going for a nice walk?’”**

I’d been thinking about a mechanic which would reward people for shopping with us, whilst generating a bit of engagement, and above all – being a bloody good laugh, and well – this seemed to fit the bill – thank you for the inspiration, Geocaching.

If this is all new to you, it’d be worth acquainting yourself with the main treasure hunt page, where you’ll find details of what’s going on, and a big raft of FAQs.

So – per the title of the post – what have we learned in the few months we’ve been running it so far?

Value of monthly prizes may vary

We’ll just level with you here – we’re generating the prizes as we go along (and as the level of interest in the competition grows) with the help of our suppliers.

This month, it’s fair to say that the buying team (and the wonderful supplier to whom we are very grateful) have come up trumps – and we’ve secured a £4,250 bottle of Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais. Fingers crossed (and absolutely no pressure guys) there’ll be more amazing stuff to come in future months.

Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais

There’s (evidently) no such thing as ‘too hard’ when it comes to the clues

Calibrating the difficulty levels of the hints/clues/puzzles has been extremely difficult especially when many of them rely on logic jumps which are incredibly subjective, but despite setting them at a level which flummoxes a significant proportion of the (really pretty smart) people I’ve run them past internally all the clues have been found within a day of release (and the two which have been released to the whole world were both found within hours).

I think we’re settling in on a combination of whisky (/spirits/MoM) knowledge, rewards for finding stuff on the MoM website, and decoding things which exist in the physical world (but not on the interwebs). Obviously there’s a fine line to be drawn between making them too easy (and hence it just being a case of who lives closest to the hide site) and making them so difficult that nobody can wrap their head around it. Any feedback on this would be appreciated.

We should’ve flagged up the cities/locations for the monthly mini-chests at the start

There’s a (loose) plan as to where we’re hiding the monthly mini chests – it’s based on a heat-map of where our customers are located (in mainland UK only for obvious reasons).

In hindsight, we really should’ve communicated the locations of all the chests in advance to give people in the locations where they’re hidden a heads-up. With that in mind:

January: Brighton
February: Newcastle
March: London
April: Tunbridge Wells
May: Norwich
June: Swansea
July: Birmingham
August: Edinburgh
September: Bristol
October: Manchester
November: Inverness
December: London

Confusingly, each month’s mini-chest actually goes live on the 1st of the following month. This is because it’s the orders placed in (f’example) April which go into the prize draw, so by definition we need to run this once the month has closed out.

It’s too complex (unless you’re really paying attention)

This is one we’d really like some feedback on (comments at the bottom folks!).

The nice thing about the year-long treasure hunt format is that it provides awesome monthly prizes, but the critical thing is that each of those monthly prizes provide additional information which brings you all closer to the grand prize.

The not so nice thing about the year-long treasure hunt format is that it’s basically impossible to explain in a single sentence – it rewards (only) the people who’re prepared to take the time to look a bit closer.

Again – hindsight being 20:20 – we might’ve made it less technically complex to explain.

Live-streaming the grand prize was possibly over-ambitious

When we launched, we had a live video stream of the location of the grand prize. It worked really well for a bit, but then it didn’t, and there’s only so much technical cobbling together we can do when the location is remote (ie no power, very little mobile signal, tree canopy cover).

Watch this space though as we’re continuing to work on it.

It’s going to become (much) more game-ified towards the end of the year

As has been pointed out by a few people now, the final months are going to be quite exciting.

You see, once we get past August, the number of potential locations begins to drop dramatically.

We’ll leave you to do your own maths and draw your own conclusions, but there comes a point at which those 24 hour head-starts are going to become really quite valuable…

One final reminder – clues are released at 10am on the first day of the (next) month to the ten lucky prize-draw winners, and (if unfound) at 10am on the second day of each month to the world via our socials, email, and on the main treasure hunt page.

We’d strongly advise you to keep an eye on your inbox at 10am on the 1st if you’ve qualified for entry in the past month (every £50 spent in a single transaction automatically generates you a ticket – up to a maximum of 10 per month).

Cheers all,

Ben.

*Not the dog though. No credit for him. He’s useless at finding the bastards despite apparently being able to smell chicken which exists only as an atemporal energy-based alien’s dreams.

**I know. There’s a lot to unpack there.