App will help travelers explore Nevada’s rural attractions

The results of a fire three years ago are still seen at the Cold Springs Station gas pumps on Highway 50 outside of Fallon, Nev. Tuesday, August 9, 2011.

The Loneliest Road: Travelogue

An adventurer rides an off-road vehicle up the dune at Sand Mountain Recreation Area on Tuesday, August 9, 2011. Launch slideshow »

You’re driving along U.S. 50, the so-called “Loneliest Road in America,” and you’re wondering: Where would be a good place to have lunch in Eureka? And what are some of those just-off-the-road attractions that only the locals seem to know about?

You’re out of cellphone range, so there’s no Internet connection. What now?

There’s app for that. At least, there will be soon.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism expects to unveil a new travel application in the spring that will provide maps and information about remote attractions within the Silver State.

Jo Lyn Laney, director of marketing for the commission, gave details about the app on the second day of the Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Wednesday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

About 250 tourism leaders from across the state and vendors from several countries attended the 1 1/2-day event. Innovation and the expansion of international visitation were the key themes of this year’s conference.

The Travel Nevada iPhone app will have travel guides, trip planners, suggested itineraries, geo-location services and other multimedia content.

The app also will enable users to take pictures and make comments that will be captured for future users who download it.

“There are some parts of the state that don’t have cellphone service, so what you do is download the app when you have service and then use it when you’re out of range,” she said.

The app will be free. Initially, it will be available for iPhone users, though Laney said eventually a similar Android application would be developed.

Laney said the app development is a part of the commission’s digital media strategy that incorporates promoting the state online and on social media platforms.

The commission staff’s research says 85 percent of leisure travelers use their smartphones when they travel. Thirty percent of travelers use mobile apps to find hotel deals, 29 percent use them to get flight deals, and 15 percent will download a specific app to guide them in their upcoming vacations.

Several technology companies have applauded Nevada for being ahead of the curve in mobile technology. The state was one of the first to develop a mobile website to provide information on skiing conditions at resorts in the Lake Tahoe area.

One of the commission’s distributions of $510,000 in tourism grants to rural communities was a $12,000 grant to the Virginia City Tourism Commission to develop a mobile app that would provide real-time information about lodging, events, attractions, shopping and dining.

Another highlight of the conference Wednesday was the unveiling of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority brand and tagline for future advertising.

Chris Baum, president and CEO of the RSCVA, said the authority is veering away from past tie-ins with the casino industry and focusing instead on the multiple experiences available in every season.

Reno’s new tagline is “All seasons, a thousand reasons.”

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