If you are a regular reader of this blog, it is pretty evident that we are bullish about location-based mobile applications because they really are innovating the mobile space which delivers tremendous service to travelers and creates fantastic new business models for advertisers. I recently learned of a new app called RoadAhead for iOS devices and I view it as one of the most ingenious location-based apps I have seen to date.
Targeted at road travelers, RoadAhead monitors the direction and highway you are traveling on at present with a display of upcoming exits and rest areas listing restaurants, gas stations (with gas prices!), hotels and other points of interest. It only shows you upcoming points of interests and not exits you have already passed, because on a long road trip you never want to backtrack.
The following is an excerpt from the RoadAhead Facebook page: (http://www.facebook.com/roadahead):
RoadAhead™ is a new, free iphone app that helps you find the best exit on the highway for cheap gas, great food and fun things to do. RoadAhead automatically locates you on a highway, searches based on your categories, and displays merchants at upcoming exits – with user ratings, gas prices, distance from exit, and other helpful info.
Ever found yourself driving in unfamiliar territory with the kids screaming in the back, running on fumes asking, “where can I stop for …”
- … a unique restaurant with great reviews?
- … cheap gas that is convenient to the exit?
- … a bite to eat, something fun to do with the kids and clean rest rooms?
- … a place for the dog to run and pick up a few groceries that is easy off/on?
- … a Starbucks fix in the next 10 miles?
Find it on the RoadAheadTM
Unlike other travel apps, RoadAhead organizes merchants by what is ahead and what is convenient to the exit:
- It knows which highway you are on, the direction you are traveling and the upcoming exits – for every exit on all highways in the US.
- It organizes merchants by the exits ahead, and doesn’t bother you with stuff behind or around you.
- Other apps help you find gas OR food, but what if you want to optimize the stop with gas AND food AND groceries?
- It presents results in an easy to read list with ratings, prices and distance/direction from exit.
- It keeps the next exit at the top of the list, so you see what’s coming up at a glance.
- Use it when you’re not on the highway to plan your trip – just select the road and exits to search.
- Unlike many road signs, it doesn’t mislead about how close or far the merchant is off the exit.
What is really fantastic about this application is its ease of use for the traveler. It has a very simple UI that allows the user to set the categories they want to be able to view while en route. The application then presents a simple map display with all relevant location data visible for upcoming exits. This is much simpler than what most personal navigation devices (GPS units) provide. In its current version, this is the ultimate reference tool when you are on a long highway road trip.
What really excites me about this application is the potential for advertisers. The app focuses squarely on a specific segment of people – highway travelers consisting of business people, families and individuals who all share common needs and interests on the road. For an advertiser, whether that is a gas station, store, hotel or restaurant, this application provides an excellent opportunity to target discounts, promotions and offers at that audience to get them into their establishments. I can imagine in the future there are significant opportunities to sell ads/offers to these advertisers across heavily traveled routes. Imagine you’re tired after an entire day of being on the road and it’s getting dark. Suddenly a fantastic room offer pops up on your Smartphone for a hotel at the next exit. Timely and well targeted ads and offers have more value than static billboards or listings in flimsy paper travel guides. It’s the right message, at the right time and to the right audience.
Check out the application and give the developer feedback. I have no affiliation or association with the developer, but I like to give credit to good ideas and products when I find them.