As long as people have traveled, the primary questions in their minds is finding places to stay, places to eat and things to do. Navigation has always been a source of confusion for travelers.

Early on phone directories and paper maps were developed to provide information to travelers on finding destinations.

A revolutionary new tool is now in the hands of the traveler. SmartPhones provide phone numbers and maps via the Internet with one huge improvement — Smartphones know where you are. The age old question of “where are we on this map?” is answered.

Smartphones add some features to the basic telephone. Smartphones are phones, Internet browers and GPS navigators. So, getting from where we are, to places to stay, places to eat and things to do is a matter of asking the Smartphone to find what we’re looking for and navigate us there. And there a lots of Smartphones out there.  According to a Federal Reserve report published last month 87 percent of the U.S. population has a mobile phone, 44 percent of mobile phones are Smartphones and 84 percent of Smartphone users have accessed the Internet on their phone in the past week.

Here’s a Smartphone navigation example here in Belfast. The phone knows where we are in Belfast and we want to find “Tourist Attractions,” so we push the Tourist Attractions button on our phone and the phone directs us to the Maine Coast Welcome Center.

Most of the time, finding your destination is really easy on a Smartphone.

But sometimes there is a problem. What if our destination is in the wrong location? Let’s continue our example to find the former VillageSoup office and current location of The Republican Journal. We’ll key in VillageSoup directly….oops. Google has VillageSoup at the incorrect location!

Let’s try Yahoo, we’re getting closer, but Yahoo thinks VillageSoup is a restaurant.

What is going on? How does information get on these Smartphones?

DataMapping is the process of getting information onto the Smartphones. Businesses information is a hot commodity on the Internet. Everyone wants more information and quicker, so the search engines automate the process. Search engines use DataBots to scour the Internet for business data and populate it across hundreds of directories. DataBots are workaholics — 24-7, 365 days a year, they fill directories. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Foursquare and the list goes on and on. DataBots are super efficient, but dumb — bad information goes out, too.

On a recent review for a hair salon with an incorrect phone number, DataBot had placed this wrong number in more than 6,000 places.

With many different map systems and hundreds of directories, the process to correcting bad data can be intimidating. A local Belfast company has developed a solution. The Maine Coast Welcome Center provides DataMapping for Maine places to stay, places to eat, things to do and services.

The DataMapping process consists of multiple steps:

1. A DataMapping Audit checks your business data for accuracy. Current data records contain 55 fields of information including the basic name, address and phone number; all the way to are you a “green” company? Your data needs to be correct, since DataBots don’t care — it’s garbage-in, garbage-out.

2. Is your location accurate on ALL the map sets? When a data search is complete, navigation is performed by GPS systems. Being correct on Google doesn’t help if the navigator uses a different map.

3. How does your business appear on the directory pages? Most of the time, the traveler’s first image of your business is on someone else’s web page. Having a great website is wasted if someone gets a bad impression on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, etc.

4. Managing the result. You need an easy means to manage your business DataMap and staying ahead of the DataBots.

DataMapping is a really interesting process. Since kicking off the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Success Express Seminar series, Maine Coast Welcome Center has performed DataMapping for more than 50 Maine places to stay, places to eat, things to do and services.

Some of the more interesting have been:

Acadia National Park Tours was shown at the home of the uncle who started the business instead of the current owner.

Boothbay Farmers Market has no phone and no address, so we had to DataMap their place of business and hours to Boothbay Common.

Arts in the Park is an annual Belfast event, with location and date, so we DataMapped the event. Heritage Park had to be added as the ongoing venue.

So take advantage of SmartPhone technology to talk about your place to stay, place to eat, thing to do or service. Get your business information correct and let the DataBots work for you. If you need some help, remember there’s a local source with Maine Coast Welcome Center’s DataMapping service.

Jim LeClair and his wife Patti own Maine Coast Welcome Center in Belfast.