Connected: MetroMe a useful app when traveling

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Travelling can be a pain. But if you have the right state of mind, you can take advantage of the places and events on the other end of your plane ride to have some fun, try new things and even attend events that just happen to be in the same place you are.

There are certainly ways to find them, most notably to use your favorite search engine or a restaurant guide or ticket seller online. Wouldn't it be nice, though, to be able to filter right down to the places and events that fit you, instead of generic listings that could go on for pages?

That's what Michael Annichine attempted to do when he and his partners created MetroMe, a mobile app that you can use when traveling (or preparing to travel) to find a better fitting set of things to do when you get to your destination.

With MetroMe, you start by entering your profile into the free app. Then the system can find places and events that fit your preferences, from theater to nightlife to special events. Mr. Annichine calls it an online concierge, letting you streamline your search based on your tastes.

The service gathers information from various sources, including Yelp, Ticketmaster and Google Places. Then, when you touch down in the new city, you can pull up the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone, and get to see the top 50 places near you that match your profile in eight different categories.

In many cases, once you find what you want, you can tap a few buttons to make your reservation or buy your ticket. In my pre-release view of MetroMe, the purchasing was not yet seamless, but Mr. Annichine says that purchasing directly from the app is on his priority list for future release.

Don't see what you want when you pull up the categories? You can search by keyword, location and date to fit your specific desire.

There's a lot of competition for this Pittsburgh native's product, as lots of independent and corporate developers are trying to find ways to leverage the way smartphones can pinpoint your location. MetroMe has an interesting twist to help cut through the clutter. They're staffing up a team of human concierges to cater to your whims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tap a few key and you can be connected to somebody who can personally assist you - either by text or by phone.

Mr. Annichine also plans on offering exclusivity on certain events for VIP members. Which means not everything will be free. The app itself is free to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

If you want access to the humans, you'll need to pay a few dollars - from $10 a month up to $97 a month depending on the level of human help you want. The differences are whether you only get text access to the human concierge or whether you get to speak by phone, as well as the number of calls you get to use each month. For now, the VIP events will be available for all paying subscribers.

Heavy business travelers are the prime users of the fee-based app, although it could be worthwhile for others who want a helping hand as they travel. As a demonstration of that, MetroMe has forged a relationship with the Oakland Raiders to demonstrate how the app can be helpful to heavy travelers. Football teams spend a lot of time on the road during the season.

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Follow David Radin on Twitter @dradin or learn more at www.megabyteminute.com.


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