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App For That

Memphis Travel Guide app tells users where to eat, what to do.

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Tourists visiting Memphis can now access the city's hidden gems and well-frequented haunts in the palm of their hands.

Two weeks ago, the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) released their Memphis Travel Guide app, allowing visitors to travel like a local. Users pinpoint attractions, hotels, restaurants, and events located nearby using the app's GPS-mapping function. The free app is currently available for iPhones, with a scheduled Android release later this month.

"If you're on the corner of Front and Union and you want to know which bands are playing nearby, [the app] can pull up all of those that are within walking distance and give you directions," said Bob Hazlett, the CVB's director of online marketing.

Mobile guides are emerging as the latest trend in the tourism industry, according to CVB public relations manager Jonathan Lyons.

"Cities like Kansas City, Asheville, and St. Louis are all adapting by creating official apps for their destinations," Lyons said.

"With the explosion of smartphone ownership, we knew it was important for us to create a pocket-guide app, [which lets users] know where they're going and how to find everything around them. It's much easier than trying to use a printed brochure," Hazlett said.

The app also provides a direct link to the "I Love Memphis" blog and insider articles, providing itineraries, top 10 lists, and cultural and historical information on Memphis' well-known spots.

The CVB recently revamped their website to list more events, reviews, and daily deals offered by businesses and restaurants around town. All of the information from their website is automatically streamed into the mobile app.

But the app isn't just for tourists. Besides acting as a guide to restaurants and events that locals may not be aware of, the app also contains digital coupons for attractions and restaurants, much like the popular apps for Groupon or Living Social. There are discounted admissions to local museums, like the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Pink Palace Museum, as well as coupons to local bars, restaurants, and shops. There's even a deal on subscriptions to the Flyer's sister publication, Memphis magazine.

"Right now, it's an efficient tool, but there are so many different possibilities in terms of where to take this," Lyons said. "We've got some cool stuff planned, like an alternate-reality feature, where you can actually hold your phone's [camera] up and get reviews. You'll get a better guide to the city by looking through the lens of your camera."

Besides offering a more user-friendly way to navigate the city, Lyons said the app also has an environmentally friendly advantage.

"We've cut back the number of printed brochures produced," Lyons said. "This year, we'll probably print about the same number as last year, but those numbers have been dwindling over the past couple of years. There will probably be one day when we don't print any more [brochures]."

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