How do you find things today?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich, Travel 2 Comments

This morning as I was working on the business website I kept thinking about how people find businesses and services today.  I remember back in the 80’s the answer was pretty simple.  Yellow Pages.  Today I can’t remember the last time I used a Yellow Pages.

Today I look stuff up online.  I’m figuring anyone reading this does the same, as you’re already using some type of computing device to visit the page.  But for folks who aren’t regular blog readers I have a suspicion they’re not using the Yellow Pages either.

Something’s wrong with the truck, quick Google auto repair


Several months ago I had a problem with the Nissan Titan.  I was parked in a dry camping area miles from the town of Borrego Springs.  There was no pay phone nearby, no yellow pages in the Airstream…..  But I did have a sketchy network connection on my IPhone.  Walking a little way from the Airstream I had an even better connection, and I started looking up repair shops in Borrego.

Unfortunately nobody had a real website.  There were a few phone numbers which I tried.  One had an automated report that told me the number was no longer in service.  Another just rang and rang and rang.  The third went to voicemail, and I couldn’t tell if it was a business or what.

And a few pages back in the Google search we found a link to a Facebook page.  It wasn’t an official Facebook page.  The page had been created by a satisfied customer to check in from on Facebook.  There was a phone number on the page.  I called it and got a friendly mechanic who fixed the truck up real quick.   “Mac’s Desert Auto Service.”  760-767-0800 if you ever need a repair while in Borrego.

Personally, I find things using the Internet

When I’m stationary I’ll look up businesses on my computer.  When I’m mobile I’ll use my IPad or IPhone.  This year while traveling I’ve used my IPhone to:

  • Connect to the Internet as a hotspot for my Wi-Fi devices in the Airstream.
  • Search for a mechanic in Borrego.
  • Find RV parks in CA & AZ using Allstays.
  • Looked for boondocking locations with my USFS & BLM Campground app.
  • Taken setup photos at client locations.
  • Played games while waiting in the dentist office.
  • Read news while killing time.
  • Planned my trip to New England with my apps and Google Maps.
  • Looked up RV repair services.
  • Viewed RV park websites across the U.S. to see if they worked on my phone.
  • Found grocery stores in areas I was not familiar with.
  • Found other businesses the same way.

The list goes on and on.  But if you can’t tell, I use my IPhone a lot.  I do not use Yellow Pages, Park Directories, etc.  I don’t have space for them in the Airstream.


An IPhone would have been great on my Eurovan trip back in 02′

If potential customers are mobile, when will you mobilize?

Thinking business thoughts all morning I wondered about mobile websites for other businesses.  Who needs them?  Well, many businesses do, and many don’t.  It depends on your audience I suppose.  While thinking about it I decided to conduct a test.  I thought about my old hometown of Prescott.  The place gets tons of tourist traffic.  The restaurants and businesses downtown depend on those tourists.  So I asked myself, “How do the restaurants look on a smartphone?”

I did a quick Google search for Prescott AZ Restaurants.  The results offered me information from Yelp, DexKnows, Trip Advisor, &  I figured I’d try because it “sounds local.” didn’t list every restaurant in town by any stretch of the imagination.  So I’m guessing that you have to advertise through the site to be listed on it.  Not sure, but it did have a good number of restaurants.

  • The Rose Restaurant – Link works, website is “so so”, and it is not mobilized.  Looks terrible on my IPhone
  • Icha Maajoh at the Prescott Resort – Link works, nice site, and mobilized
  • HotRodz Bar and Grill – Link doesn’t work.
  • Murphys – Link doesn’t work (and this is a well known restaurant in town)
  • The Raven – Link works, nice site, not mobilized (looks bad on the phone)
  • Bin 239 – Link works, nice site, and a very nice mobile site
  • The Office – Link works, nice site, and it is mobile
  • Wyndham Garden Prescott Hotel and Conference Center – Link doesn’t work
  • Cuppers Coffee House – Nice site, and mobile
  • Firehouse Kitchen – Link doesn’t work
  • Coffee Roasters – Link works, not mobile
  • El Gato Azul – Link works, odd entry page, not mobile.
  • The Palace – Link works, nice site, not mobile.

Actually, I missed a few but that’s enough for the list anyhow.  A few mobile sites, several dead links, and some pages that need help.  I could always check Dex, Yelp, or something else, but thought I’d search with a local site.

Bottom line?  In this quick search it’s pretty clear that many of these businesses are not reaching out to the “mobile tourists” who visit the town year round.  Would a mobile site help these restaurants?  Well, I think quite possibly.  At least the large “Chain Restaurants,” think that it will help their bottom line.  McDonalds, BK, Taco Bell, KFC, Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and more are all mobile.  They’ve even got location finders with mapping built right in.  Super convenient, no?

Eventually they’ll get mobile

I’m sure down the road folks will realize that mobile devices are not a fad.  But right now so many businesses are missing out.  And that’s too bad.  The easier you make it on your client to find you while they’re visiting, the more you’ll find new clients!

In my case back in Borrego I found no mobile sites to help me find a mechanic.  I had to do some digging, but didn’t really have a choice.  The Titan was broken, and the Airstream was stranded.  Fortunately I was persistent because I absolutely needed to find the business.  When searching for restaurants and other services I don’t NEED to find them.  And if it’s not convenient I move on.

Before the Airstream there was the Eurovan.  Less space to be sure, and today's mobile computing devices would have rocked in it!

Before the Airstream there was the Eurovan. Less space to be sure, and today’s mobile computing devices would have rocked in it!


Comments 2

  1. Outstanding article. When I travel, my biggest complaint is that the great restaurant or simply a gas station could be one block over and I’ll never find it when I need it! I tend to rely on Yelp. I find exactly the same issues with the quality of the sites as displayed on my iPhone that you listed in your article. My big frustration when driving is that I tend to think in terms of time or distance when looking for a place to refuel or to eat or stay for the night. I still haven’t found any way to put in “here is where I am right now and I want to eat in 2 hours on my way to Denver” kind of thing. In order to find a gas station or food along the way I have to know the name of the town along the way to enter for the search. That means routing with my GPS app then estimating where I will be and doing a completely different search to find businesses in that town.

    I realize what I want done is a very complex task but as a more and more people rely on smart phones on the road I’ll bet a lot of us would be willing to pay for a service that filled this need.

  2. Post

    Allen, check out iExit. You might like it. It’s an IPhone App that I’ve been testing out lately. I’ll be posting on it soon, but I’ve only been toying with it for a few weeks now.

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