America's Most Challenging Cities to Navigate
Getting to know a city is a big job, but getting through a city shouldn't be. Unfortunately, some of America's metropolitan areas present a navigational challenge for even the most intelligent, savvy drivers. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by "Best Places to Live" expert, Bert Sperling, Boston is America's "most challenging city to navigate", followed closely by Washington D.C. (2), San Francisco (3), Baltimore (4) and New York (5)*.
Following the national launch of Avis Assist, a mobile phone-based navigation system powered by Motorola's VIAMOTO software, Avis Rent A Car and Motorola teamed up with the city study specialists at Sperling's Best Places to analyze how difficult America's largest 75 cities are to navigate. Many popular business travel destinations ranked high on the roster, including Los Angeles (7), Seattle (8), Chicago (12) and Orlando (15), while other business travel hot spots such as Salt Lake City (61), San Antonio (64) and Las Vegas (65) were dubbed "driver-friendly."
Sperling evaluated the nation's top metro areas according to the following criteria:
-- street layouts (grids, diagonals, windiness, one-way streets);
-- overall design and layout (how spread out the market is);
-- travel time index;
-- percent of congested freeway and street lane miles;
-- bodies of water (rivers, lakes, oceans, bridges);
-- complexity of directions needed to travel from major airports to
-- annual delay per person (person hours);
-- days of snow exceeding one-and-one-half inches; and
-- days of rain exceeding half an inch
The "Cost" of Getting Lost
Demonstrating growth for the first time since 1999, U.S. residents are projected to take more than 122 million business trips in 2004, an improvement of 4.2 percent from 2003**. As business travel continues to rise, the need to maximize productivity on the road is becoming increasingly important. According to a consumer survey of 1,000 Americans commissioned by Avis Rent A Car and Motorola***, 65 percent agree that there are certain cities they consistently find difficult to navigate, and 57 percent agree that getting lost is one of the worst things that can happen on a business trip. Further, nearly 70 percent of travelers agree getting lost can negatively impact the outcome of their business meeting, and 93 percent said that arriving late to a business meeting as a result of getting lost makes a poor impression.
So what are the options? Paper maps get cumbersome and can be difficult to use when driving alone, and online mapping services often are incorrect. But there is a solution. To avoid getting lost, 68 percent of travelers would prefer using a Global Positioning System navigational tool (GPS) over a paper map, and 72 percent prefer to use a GPS navigational tool with any car they rent. Four in five travelers find tremendous advantages in having a GPS tool they can use while driving, as well as take with them when they leave the car. Furthermore, 86 percent of Americans traveling to unfamiliar destinations find specific turn-by-turn directions very helpful.
"Many of the cities identified in the study as being among the most challenging to navigate are, in fact, our top car rental markets," said Scott Deaver, executive vice president of marketing for Cendant Car Rental Group, the parent company of Avis. "That's why we offer Avis Assist, a tool to help business travelers easily navigate their way through unfamiliar markets and make the most of their time on the road."
Powered by Motorola's VIAMOTO software, Avis Assist gives travelers the ability to bypass unwieldy maps and confusing gas station directions by gaining instant real-time, spoken directions through a convenient mobile handset. Now available in 60 cities nationwide, Avis Assist helps travelers reach their destinations, and offers users the ability to receive information on areas of interest such as local restaurants, the closest ATM, copy centers and service stations.
In August, Motorola and Avis Assist will roll out new features to help make navigating and driving even easier including:
-- A detour function, giving drivers the ability to avoid the next one,
five or ten miles of a congested roadway -- along with alternate
routes around delays.
-- Even more specific spoken, turn-by-turn directions combining street
names and street numbers. For example, drivers will hear, "...in a
quarter mile turn right onto Route 45 - Manheim Road."
-- Automatic re-routing. Instead of pressing a button to calculate a
new route, Avis Assist will automatically announce new directions
when a driver makes a wrong turn.
"Staying connected while on the go is critical -- not only in business, but also in balancing the demands of a busy home life, social obligations and the spaces in-between," said Neal Campbell, general manager of location based services for Motorola. "Motorola is in the business of helping consumers manage their worlds through mobile solutions that make life simpler, seamless and more fun -- in and out of the car. Our expertise in GPS, cellular and software technologies drove us to create VIAMOTO and help consumers travel with ease, confidence and peace-of-mind."
Avis Assist units can be rented in conjunction with any Avis vehicle at available locations for $9.95 per day. Equipment can be reserved in advance at 888-777-AVIS.
Bert Sperling's Top 10 Most Difficult Cities to Navigate
1. Boston, MA
2. Washington, DC
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Baltimore, MD
5. New York, NY-Northeastern NJ
6. Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood-Pompano Beach, FL
7. Los Angeles, CA
8. Seattle-Everett, WA
9. Providence, Pawtucket RI-MA
10. Norfolk-Newport News-Virginia Beach, VA
Additional Consumer Survey Findings
-- When it comes to asking for directions, the age-old gender divide
still holds true. 64 percent of women report that they are the ones
who have to stop and ask for directions compared to 41 percent of
-- 68 percent of Americans agree that getting lost causes tension with
other passengers in the car.
-- Women (71%) are more likely then men (56%) to feel stressed when
they don't know where they are.
Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate the world's second largest general-use car rental brand, providing business and leisure customers with a wide range of services at nearly 1,800 locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Latin American / Caribbean region. Avis is one of the world's top brands for customer loyalty, ranking as the number one rental car brand and the number one brand overall among 182 in the 2003 Brand Keys® Customer Loyalty Index, and tying for the highest ranking in the 2003 J.D. Power & Associates rental car customer satisfaction study. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cendant Corporation (NYSE: CD - News), a diversified global provider of business and consumer services primarily within the real estate and travel sectors. For more information visit http://www.avis.com or http://www.cendant.com/media .
Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT - News) is a global leader in wireless, broadband and automotive communications technologies that help make life smarter, safer, simpler, synchronized and fun. Sales in 2003 were US$27.1 billion. Motorola creates innovative technological solutions that benefit people at home, at work and on the move. The company also is a progressive corporate citizen dedicated to operating ethically, protecting the environment and supporting the communities in which it does business. For more information: http://www.motorola.com .
Sperling's BestPlaces study. For nearly 20 years, Bert Sperling has been helping people find their own "Best Place." As the foremost creator of these studies, his work appears in national media nearly every month, and he recently appeared on the Today Show to introduce his new book, "Cities Ranked and Rated." His firm, "Sperling's BestPlaces" puts facts about cities and living in the hands of the public, so they can make better decisions about best places to live, work, retire, play, or relocate.
Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), http://www.tia.org
Avis Assist study conducted by StrategyOne from July 19 through July 23, 2004. The online survey was completed nationwide among 1,000 respondents regarding getting lost while traveling. Margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.
Edelman Public Relations