With thousands of visitors set to descend on Newark for Super Bowl media day next week, the city has become a testing ground for a new app that helps travelers find businesses on their way to and from their destination.
"They're trying to get fans to connect and engage with businesses along the way, and that's a great thing for the CVB to be advocating," said Tully Ryan, Yillio's co-founder and president. "For Yillio, we built our whole model based on connecting businesses and mobile users, so I think it's a great connection."
The app, available for iOS
devices, allows travelers to find gas stations, restaurants and other businesses along their route, with the option to sort the results based on price or other preferences. For merchants, it's a free platform that can help them reach customers simply by registering their business for free; there's also a premium, pay-per-click service in which a business can post coupons, pictures and other additional content.
The tourism group became connected with the startup last summer, and Ryan unveiled the platform last month at its annual stakeholders meeting at the Newark Museum, he said. Since then, Yillio has developed a database of "several hundred" area businesses and attractions, and organizers are hoping to sign up additional users by next week.
Ryan said the company has been populating its own database, but individual businesses can also sign up as easily as they would for Twitter or Facebook. All told, Yillio currently has more 200,000 merchants on the platform nationwide, he said.
With the basic free service, businesses can post "marquee messages" of up to 36 characters, with information such as pricing that can be updated at any time, Ryan said.
"This is real-time, self-reported information, and if you think about that is messaging that's much more relevant information to the user than some canned type of tagline," he said.
Media day, one the biggest events tied to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, will come to the city's Prudential Center on Jan. 28
. Thousands of fans and media members are expected to attend, many of them visiting Newark for the first time.
That means company representatives will be in town all week, hoping to spread the word about their new app.
"This is a great opportunity with an event tied to it," Ryan said. "But we want users to use this in their daily habits when they need to find gas between here and home, or if they're looking to pick up dinner."