Since hardly anyone schleps to AAA anymore to pick up a paper map, it was really important to the leaders of a rural town south in Northern California that an entrance to a newly designated national park be put on Apple's and Google's map apps.
The tech giants listened.
And on Tuesday, the city of Soledad - about 75 miles south of San Jose - announced that after its public plea last month, Google now offers driving directions to Pinnacles National Park with an entrance way through Soledad, which it hadn't before.
And, according to city spokesman Rolando Bonilla, Mike Foulkes from Apple called Soledad's city manager a few days ago to say that the Cupertino company is working on putting the same driving directions on Apple's map app.
"The city felt this was a legitimate concern because of the value of social media," Bonilla said. "Not being included on a map is critical. People don't go to AAA anymore. This is a big deal."
In late February, Soledad's Mayor Fred Ledesma wrote Google's Larry Page and Apple's Tim Cook to put the new national park route on their software GPS systems. To read the letters, click here. (PDF)
The impetus behind the letters was because Pinnacles National Park was recently given official national status. And the rural city of 26,000 hoped to gain more tourists - and dollars - from the designation.
Soledad is just ten miles from the western entrance to Pinnacles National Park. But until the map app change, those searching online for directions would have most likely only found the park’s eastern entrance, which took you through Hollister. (Check out the city's Facebook photo page to see some of these features.)
That meant newcomers and travelers were far less likely to discover and patronize one Soledad’s many locally owned businesses, said Bonilla, a hired public relations consultant whose firm, Ford & Bonilla of San Jose, was paid $15,000 to conduct the marketing campaign over three months.
Soledad is located in the center of the Salinas Valley, near U.S. Highway 101 between Santa Lucia Mountains to the west and the Gabilan Mountains to the east. Soledad is home to much agriculture, with fields of lettuce, broccoli and asparagus, as well as some of the finest wine grapes in the state. It is also home to Soledad State Prison. Visitors can explore nearby Pinnacles National Park, with its world-class hiking and rock-climbing, or sample our burgeoning local wine industry. For more information, visit www.CityofSoledad.com.