POIs in Focus: A 2024 Guide to Points of Interest

Marc Kranendonk
Marc Kranendonk
Content Manager
December 13, 2023
In short: POIs are data represented as a geographical location on a map. They let you see a wide range of locations like hotels, landmarks, petrol station, and more. It helps users find the relevant info they seek when dealing with location-related matters, like interacting with a Maps app. It also allows companies to better understand their consumers, facilitate experiences, and supply navigation with more information. Points of Interest are location data that give insight into a user's actual interest in a company and its products. Visits to physical stores serve as a stronger indicator of interest, and app developers aiming to create a better user experience should carefully consider the role POIs play in a cookieless future.

It's 2024. What's to come? Who knows. Probably a lot of people will go to the gym in January, as tradition dictates.

If being better informed about how location technology can help businesses connect better with consumers was on your 2024 resolutions list, then you're on the right page. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to POIs to help you get started.

Understanding POIs

To understand POIs, let's start with a definition. No one is better equipped to do this than our new friends over at Echo Analytics:

“Points of Interest (i.e., Place of Interest) data is a geographical representation of a physical location on a map. The most common POI types include public areas (parks, metros), commercial or residential locations (like retail stores or apartment buildings), and landmarks (like museums or parks).”

Think of POIs as a label used to describe a physical location that is considered important or useful to a user on a map. As the experts at Echo Analytics noted, they encompass a wide range of physical locations, such as restaurants, landmarks, hotels, tourist attractions, petrol stations, and even the last-known Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon.

POIs are gathered and categorized in several ways, including data mining, manual curation (which sounds like a lot of effort), and machine learning algorithms.

In relation to location-based services, POIs have gained ever-growing popularity due to GPS, mobile devices, and location-aware mobile apps. They all rely on POIs to provide accurate location information, helping users find the relevant information they seek when dealing with location-related matters. This could range from saving their new favorite restaurant on a Maps app, looking up the nearest petrol station, to posting social media content specific to a particular location (like a Snapchat selfie in front of the last-known Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon). 

And with that, let's explore the industries that apply POIs.

Applications of POIs

There are several industry use-cases that leverage POIs. For instance, Handy's business mobile app for salespeople in the delivery industry relies on POI data to provide users with as much location-relevant information as possible.

When a salesperson wants to see users close to their location in real-time, the app retrieves a list of the five users closest to them, along with all the necessary info. This includes their distance to the client, when the location update was logged, and whether they are in the same area as the client. The latter relies on POIs to inform the user.

That's just one example; let's dive into industry use-cases that frequently rely on points of interest.

Retail Industry

Personalized Shopping Experience

POIs play a significant role in the retail industry, enhancing the shopping experience by offering personalized information. Customers receive details about products, promotions, and events specific to a particular store location. Attributes unique to a store, such as size and type, are crucial for customers seeking information before visiting. For instance, in the Netherlands, the supermarket chain Albert Heijn has "AH To-Go" store locations near train stations, with different product ranges and opening times compared to regular franchise stores.

Improved Customer Engagement

Within physical retail stores, POIs create interactive and engaging experiences. Retailers use them to notify and reach customers about in-store events, limited-time promotions, or exclusive deals. Geofencing technology is incorporated to send targeted messages based on customers' proximity to a store. POI data serves as the foundation for creating targeted messages and personalized promotions, essentially the data behind personalized information.

Hospitality Industry

Local Attractions and Activities

Dad’s and Mom’s rely on hotels and vacation rental services to provide them travel recommendations, local attractions, and general guest information. They need to entertain the kids somehow, without an iPad. Within the hospitality industry, POIs assist travelers in all of this, by providing the information guests need about places within the vicinity of where they are staying. For example, if a family were to stay at a hotel in Bend, Oregon, surely they would want to know that the last known Blockbuster is nearby, and worth visiting. 

Facilitating Tourist Exploration

So, how to help dad’s and mom’s keep the kids entertained? Interactive travel guides are a good place to start. Mobile apps use POIs to create interactive guides offering real-time information on nearby attractions, landmarks, and other points of interest. Tourists gain access to detailed descriptions, reviews, and images related to each POI, enhancing their understanding of the destination.

Apps can achieve this through location-based notifications. They alert tourists about noteworthy attractions or events in the vicinity - Like this one:

Tourists receive timely and relevant info as they travel through different areas, enhancing their overall exploration experience.

Apps like Tripit and Wanderlog utilize POIs to assist tourists in creating customized itineraries based on their preferences, interests, and general travel routes. This is achieved through their route planning feature, suggesting optimized routes, interesting destination points, and even scenic views.

It is also crucial that these apps provide user-generated content such as reviews, ratings, and tips. This way, tourists can have a better idea of what to expect when visiting a place, or decide not to go based on reviews by other users.

Last but definitely not least, offline access is essential to keep tourists informed about a place they are visiting, especially in remote areas. This gives them the opportunity to download relevant data before exploring, ensuring that they can stay "connected" even when not online.

Transportation Industry

Effective navigation for Drivers

Transportation and logistics mobile applications not only need to provide accurate and efficient navigation but also must utilize points of interest for drivers. Drivers want to be informed about specific locations such as petrol stations and rest areas along their long journeys. Having as much information as possible allows them to optimally plan their routes.

The same holds true for ride-hailing drivers who could leverage POIs to select optimal drop-off points for their passengers' destinations. This is particularly useful when the destination is unfamiliar to the driver, but they can identify nearby parking and drop-off points.

Integration with Public Transportation

Mobile apps equipped with POIs significantly enhance the overall commuting experience for passengers. Users should be able to retrieve information related to their travels between two or more locations, including details like bus stops, train stations, and the transit route they'll need to take. In plain terms, it's the backbone for any public transportation app to function effectively.

Challenges in the World of POIs

Data Accuracy and Completeness

Obtaining accurate and complete data for POIs poses a challenge, especially in areas where information is not readily available or frequently updated. It requires accessing multiple databases, public records, and sometimes user-generated content.

Categorization, Standardization, and Quality Assurance

POIs are dynamic. They’re information about businesses, landmarks, or events, and that means they are constantly changing. The dynamic nature of points of interest necessitates continuous monitoring to ensure data consistency over time, highlighting why quality control and maintenance are essential.

The POI dataset needs continuous validation to ensure it's up to date, providing end-users with the latest and most relevant information. As POIs vary from restaurants to gas stations and even the last known Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon, standardizing categorization becomes an equally important challenge.

I'm sorry

User-Generated Content Reliability 

While user-generated content, such as reviews and ratings, can enhance POI information, it introduces drawbacks in terms of quality and reliability due to individual biases. Verifying and validating user-contributed content is crucial for maintaining a trustworthy database. Instances of biased reviews or misinformation can arise, requiring diligent moderation.

As a mobile app developer, it's important to have a deep understanding of the third-party sources used for POI data and how they manage that data. To create a comprehensive dataset of POIs, multiple sources are necessary, each categorized, standardized, quality-maintained, and filtered to ensure the best results for users.

The Future of POIs

By the end of 2024, Google and its Chrome browser will be parting ways with third-party data and cookies. This means that the third-party data companies gather to segment and build user profiles will be limited. In the wake of this change, physical location data will play a crucial role.

User movement can be employed to assign and segment customers, providing a deeper understanding of user behavior. There will be a growing importance and need for mobile apps to use POIs to further personalize experiences and connect businesses with consumers.

Unlike web browsing data, location data offers more insight into a user's actual interest in a company and its products. While some people browse the web and webstores out of curiosity, visits to physical stores serve as a stronger indicator of interest. Mobile app developers aiming to create a better user experience should carefully consider the role that points of interest will play in the future.

The Role of POIs at Roam

At Roam, we're well-acquainted with POIs thanks to our Insights API (that's two too many three-letter acronyms in one sentence).

The Insights API is a product that developers can utilize to uncover a broad spectrum of insights into their users. This encompasses their home and work locations, as well as their points of interest.

For instance, a delivery company can identify new frequently visited restaurants through user behavior. They can observe which restaurants users are patronizing that aren't yet on their delivery platform. Armed with these insights, they can reach out to the restaurant and negotiate a deal—unless they're Andy "The Nard Dog" Bernard from The Office US, renowned for his historical track record of botching up even the best deals.

The Insights API is designed to empower businesses to make data-driven decisions through location intelligence and enhance the customer experience of the app.


That’s your 2024 guide to POIs, thank you for reading. Whether you’re a developer, product manager, or a founder, contact our team or sign up to our dashboard and discover how to build your app with our Location SDK and APIs. 

Unlock Location Technology

Marc Kranendonk
Marc Kranendonk
Content Manager
December 13, 2023