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Get Confidence Outdoors

Tom Harrison Maps publishes full-color, shaded-relief topographic maps for hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking in parks, forests, and wilderness areas of California.

Since 1976, Tom and Barbara Harrison have been the duo behind Tom Harrison Maps. Both perform all of the research, map production, and business operations while competing successfully in a very tough outdoor map retail market. Their success is due to not only producing great looking maps, but also a genuine focus on increasing the confidence of hikers and backpackers by providing as much information as possible on their maps and making them available in both paper and digital form. They want their customers to have a pleasant, trouble-free outdoor experience so that they will buy more maps and visit new places.

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10,000 app maps downloaded
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Specializes in California Market
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4 years of steady sales increase
San Rafael, CA, USA
"The Map Store does all the marketing work for me and I don't have to deal with the details of sales, distribution, updates, etc. My customers get what they want."
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Tom Harrison
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The Challenges

Tom Harrison Maps faced several challenges as mapping technology evolved. The business was based on a print-only model and considerations for digital maps like georeferencing and accuracy wasn't the highest priority. A printed map can be relatively accurate and sufficient for the average hiker, but a digital map has to be georeferenced accurately so that users can track their location when used in map applications. Another big challenge was learning to actually use the GIS tools to produce maps efficiently and properly.

Tom and Barbara realized that the third-party contractors who originally made the digital maps didn't have the time to also deal with on-going updates and changes. So Tom and Barbara needed the right software and tools to not only produce reliable maps but also a simple way to convert map documents to a mobile format without learning how to write code.

The solution

On the map production side, MAPublisher for Adobe Illustrator was the perfect fit - not only for it's ease of use, but because it was also the industry-standard digital illustration environment with a dedicated cartographic toolkit. The many geospatial data sources imported using MAPublisher allowed the team to create accurate georeferenced maps while Adobe Illustrator provided many of the styling tools to create the appearance that their customers know and love.

In 2013, Tom and Barbara realized that the future of cartography relied on the growing mobile device market. By being dedicated MAPublisher users, they learned about the Avenza Maps app and the Avenza Map Store and decided to invest in the platform because it had the potential to grow and become a viable sales channel.

To further add to the quality of their maps, they spend a significant amount of time ground-truthing maps to check for accuracy using the Avenza Maps app, gathering feedback from their customers, and use the information to iterate on updates

The results

The sales of their digital maps on the Map Store quickly became an additional and significant revenue source. Since 2013, after thousands and thousands of digital map downloads, their revenue on map sales on the Map Store has increased more than 200% year over year. The sales have been a testament to the quality of their map products but also the demand by outdoor recreationers.

Tom and Barbara say their customers have a real fear of getting lost and they want to be as prepared as possible. Their customers who want both a hardcopy and digital version can now get them and add it as part of their gear for the outdoors. With the Avenza Maps app, users are able to locate themselves on their maps with their device's GPS and can navigate trails and reach points of interest along the way. Tom Harrison Maps has increased the confidence of hikers, backpackers and for people who simply like to enjoy the outdoors.

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A hiker checking her phone in the forest