MapQuest is one of the oldest and most reliable options for personal and commercial navigation needs. In fact, many people continue using it for daily deliveries.
Here’s what you should know about using the MapQuest route planner for your company.
Dealing With Multiple Stops
With MapQuest Driving Directions multiple stops are a core feature you can use for your business, even if you’re staying with the free mode. The first step is going straight to MapQuest’s Route Planner Page rather than the site’s home page because the planner has more features.
You can add multiple stops on the left side of the screen. MapQuest currently has three ways you can plan your route.
The default option is Line by Line, where you can type in up to 26 addresses and add them one by one. As part of this, you can also configure it to show a round trip plan, reorder stops, and optimize the route to save drive time or distance.
The second option is Copy/Paste, which allows you to insert addresses in bulk by copying them from another software. Remember that you need to add them once per line. This is a great option if you already know which order you want to visit them in and only need the route for them.
Finally, you can Import a route. The Map Quest route planner allows you to download XLS and CSV templates where you can insert the information it needs, then upload the file to create a map. Notably, this option allows you to use Latitude and Longitude to pick a destination, which can be helpful if the place you’re going doesn’t have a street address.
Most route settings are accessible through the Line-By-Line format, the most customizable option.
In addition to measuring in either Miles or Kilometers, which may be helpful if you have guests from visiting outside the United States, MapQuest allows you to avoid several potential issues on your route.
The first two, which are the most relevant to many businesses, are toll roads and highways. Highways can get congested during certain hours, while avoiding toll roads may help save money on some routes. However, that’s not always the case, so check your options both with and without toll roads.
People in some areas may also need to avoid ferries. This is mainly an issue in coastal areas and places near large rivers or lakes, where ferries can be a slow alternative route to a destination.
Seasonal roads and timed restrictions are another occasional issue for businesses. Some roads are only open in warmer or colder months, while timed restrictions may include things like roads being shut down overnight for work.
Finally, routes may occasionally try to use country borders, and you can tell MapQuest to avoid using those.
Sharing Your Route
Once you have your route, you can share it with people in several ways. MapQuest lets you share directly to some social media sites, as well as mobile devices and email. If none of those are correct for your company’s needs, you can also get a direct link to the route and share it with anyone who needs it.
In our experience, saving the direct link for the route is often the most valuable option. This is particularly true when we’re creating a route different people may need to take regularly. Saving all of our main routes in a central repository makes it easy for anyone to find the correct route themselves, and without compromising our security.
How Good Is MapQuest?
Is MapQuest Map My Route worth using for your business? Like all software, it has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s not the right choice for every situation despite its overall popularity. Even before planning a route, companies can learn a lot from logistics professionals and translate that into commercial success.
The best way to determine whether the MapQuest Route Planner App makes sense for your company is by evaluating your needs. Here are the most common factors companies need to consider when picking a mapping app.
- Number of Stops: MapQuest’s free version allows up to 26 stops per route, which is higher than most companies need. However, some companies need significantly more stops, especially for longer trips.
- Route Optimization: Companies need to optimize in different ways. Sometimes speed is the most critical factor, while other times you want the shortest distance. These are not always the same route.
- Special Access: Some companies have special access needs. For example, trucks may be able to use truck-only roads, but they might not fit down some smaller roads. Optimizing paths around vehicle size could be a necessary feature.
- Real-Time Traffic Information: It’s easy to overlook actual traffic tendencies when planning a route. Traffic information is most important for time-sensitive planning, where unexpectedly heavy traffic can slow you down. Having real time traffic updates can help optimize routes better when people use them.
- User Interface: How easy is it for someone to read and use the map? Instructions that are too small or hard to read can be a problem, especially for drivers who are on the road and can’t look away from it for long.
Advantages of MapQuest
MapQuest has several notable advantages for businesses, including:
- Accurate directions to almost all locations in the country
- Buttons to find common needs along routes, including food, hotels, gas, and general shopping
- A higher-than-average number of stops with their free software
- Real-time information about relevant topics like highway slowdowns
- General availability on different platforms, including both iOS and Android systems
Disadvantages of MapQuest
MapQuest isn’t as good for businesses that need a lot of advanced features. Its disadvantages include:
- Poor usability when you have multiple drivers requiring different stops
- No tracking for vehicles currently using it
- Occasionally aggressive ads can make it harder to use
- Limited ability to calculate variables on routes
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MapQuest vs. Google Maps
While there are several options for route planning, the main alternative to MapQuest that most businesses consider is Google Maps. Overall, we think MapQuest is more helpful for most businesses, but Google Maps has a few things to recommend it over MapQuest.
Advantages of Google Maps
The primary advantages of Google Maps include:
- Optimizing by Transport Type: Google Maps is excellent for shorter trips, where you can choose between driving, mass transit, walking, riding, cycling, flying, or using a motorcycle. MapQuest focuses mainly on driving to destinations, so it won’t always show different ways of getting to a particular point of interest.
- Optimizing Travel Times: Google has a lot of traffic data, and it can use that to optimize routes based on when you expect to start driving. The optimizing is helpful, but it only works if you have one destination, so it’s not viable for multi-stop trips.
- Street View: Many locations, especially in cities, can take advantage of Google’s Street View system. Street View is particularly helpful for examining areas that might be hard for your vehicles to travel through before you get there.
- Real-Time Tracking: Google allows you to share your location. This can help you ensure that your drivers are on the right path, or even help others locate drivers during an emergency.
- Widespread Access: Google Maps is widely available on different platforms, including personal computers and most mobile devices.
Disadvantages of Google Maps
Google Maps also has some notable limits, including:
- Fewer Stops Per Route: Google Maps only allows you to add up to nine stops for your trip, which is fewer than many businesses need per day. Furthermore, it only allows multiple stops for some modes, so you can’t have a flight in the middle of the trip and continue other ways afterward.
- Limited Optimization: Google Maps doesn’t have many easy ways to optimize your routes. It can avoid toll roads and highways, but it’s often bad at optimizing for distance instead of time.
- Limited Sharing: Like MapQuest, Google Maps has a difficult time creating routes for multiple drivers. If you’re managing more than two or three drivers at once, it can quickly become far too time-consuming to plan and manage routes solely through Google Maps. This is when other optimization software starts becoming valuable.
MapQuest is good enough for most businesses because it has enough stops and planning flexibility to meet typical needs. However, this GPS navigation can’t compare to professional logistics software, which is what you should look into for advanced features.
For example, advanced software can alert you immediately if a vehicle has a breakdown and a time-sensitive delivery might be jeopardized. If that happens, you can minimize the impact by sending in another transporter to help.
Every company has different needs, so we’re not going to say that one software is universally better than any other. However, it is worth considering both your current and future needs when deciding on software to use. If you expect to have increasingly-complex route planning needs in the future, consider investing in capable software now.
Otherwise, the MapQuest route planner remains an excellent free choice.