Oct 17, 2011

MapQuest Vibe: Be a local, anywhere

One of the great things about MapQuest Vibe is how you can quickly see which neighborhoods you want to go to or even the ones where you’d like to live. There are so many times where I could have used the “local” perspective to get a sense of the vibe of a place, instead of figuring it out through trial and error.

If I had MapQuest Vibe when I moved to Denver from London about 10 years ago, it would have taken about 15 minutes to figure out where the best neighborhoods and local hotspots were. Instead, it took 5 years of trial and error, poor rental move choices, with a few serendipitous stumbling over wonderful areas that I never knew existed.

If I had MapQuest Vibe last month on vacation with my wife in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I could have figured out which were the best towns to stop in for lunch while we were on the road, and where the best places were to go exploring in Marquette and other small towns.

Restaurants in Marquette, MI

A few weeks later, I did have an alpha version of MapQuest Vibe during a business trip in New York. That’s how I quickly found I found the local sushi bar a block from my hotel that was the best in the neighborhood. What did I care about the top star-rated restaurants scattered all over the city that other dining-out online services showed me? I wanted to know what was good in my ‘hood.

Yesterday, I had a great experience in a new local bar/restaurant I like to have lunch in across the street from our offices. How should I reward them? Write a review? I haven’t got time for that. So I gave them a thumbs up on mqVibe and it happened to be just enough to push them from #9 to #8. And maybe, with a little support from my friends after I spread the word on Facebook, it can be, and probably should be, the best bar in the neighborhood.

Earlier today, I had lunch at the #1 place in the neighborhood. It definitely didn’t feel like a #1. The service was blander than the food, and most of it was pretty unhealthy.

How shall I express my dissatisfaction? Write a bad review? I still haven’t got time. And I don’t have enough to say, nor do I harbor that much ill will. I’ll just vote it down with a quick comment, ‘service is blander than the food’, and I’ll accelerate the power of word of mouth to my local friends on Facebook. After all, I don’t hate that joint, I just want to give honest feedback without any hassle, in a way that might get their attention and influence them to do better.

This is MapQuest Vibe. It is just the beginning of a revolution in how you discover your city, participate and influence your local community, and explore out of town. Imagine yourself in any of the situations above, play around with the site and see what you find.