Outer Banks Restaurant Guide’s Mobile App Is A Game-Changer

Okay, guerilleros, you know it – the revolucion has taken over your cell phone. The final drop came today, when a magazine publisher, located at the edge of our continent, 3 hours away from any metro area, launched an app that is far more efficient (for its purpose) than any Google app. We havent talked about mobile on the site yet – we focus more on social media marketing on the web. Consider our virginity lost after you read this.

But Magazines Are ALL Turning To Mobile Lately

Yes, I’m well aware of the imminent print media doom, and to be quite honest, so does this particular publisher. Responsible for the most widely published Restaurant Guide on the Outer Banks – an expensive resort area famously know for its amazing seafood -, they’re also extremely well positioned with an online “arm” that extends far beyond being a local directory to becoming a marketing tool for the area.

Responsible for their online operations is Gene Williams, a huge advocate for mobile and its impending domination. 2 years ago, Gene decided that it wasnt enough that his company dominated Print and Online media for the Outer Banks. He knew a mobile version of their famous Restaurant Guide was necessary to seal his trifecta.

The OBX Restaurants Mobile App

Competing against huge local directory players in the mobile space, like Google Maps, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and even Foursquare (to certain extent), Gene focused exactly on what none of those apps have to create a tool that every hungry vacationer will use.

Because those apps were built for Nationwide (or worldwide) usage, they need users to feed their info. User Generated Content is how every single major app out there collects data, even if sometimes a manager is needed to complete the listing. But how do you collect data if there’s little-to-none usage?

You get the data yourself. Specially when you already have all of the data stored somewhere, like…. your own website AND on a 100+ page magazine.

Find Complete Menus, Directions, And More

Gene plugged all of the data that restaurant owners were already giving him for the other guides into the new mobile app. With that data, he’s now covered 99% of the restaurants on the beach, and users are able to quickly browse through all of them in a very simple interface, right on their phone. This saves a ton of time when you get to a crowded place and need to look for an alternative on the spot.

On this post about reducing friction in your services, Brenden Mulligan identified ways that emerging services saved time or optimized processes and how that was crucial to their success. In this instance, the usual friction begins when you need to load Google Maps, search for “restaurants”, find one that is closer (if your phone’s GPS doesnt go awire) and has good reviews, and then click thru their website. If you’re lucky, they have a PDF menu for download. That usually takes 15 minutes.

OBX Restaurants gives you all that data without any delay. And they’re able to show the entire menu natively, within the app. Much less friction.

A Bit Crowded, Yes

The app is in its very first release – they’re not calling it Beta, but it might as well be. Screen usage will definitely improve in upcoming updates – currently, only 50-60% of the screen is used to display content, and horizontal browsing is pretty terrible. Despite its interface hickups, however, the app serves its function amazingly well.

Below is a screenshot Gene shared with me that shows how he plans on updating the app. It’s a much cleaner interface that uses 100% of the screen.


Current app interface and future app interface layout

So, if you’re planning a vacation on the Outer Banks, you’ll have a much better time finding a restaurant using the OBX Restaurants app (link to Android Market). App is not yet available for iOS, but coming soon.

When you download it, let us know what you think. How would it help your search?

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