May 24, 2006

Case Study: Tourism Kiosks for Information

wyoming-kt110-100pix.jpgState tourism officials unveiled a system of interpretive kiosks Friday designed to snag some of those highly focused vacationers and help shake loose a little of their pocket change at local businesses.

Showcasing Wyoming

By JARED MILLER
Star-Tribune capital bureau
Source Article

CHEYENNE -- It's common for Wyoming visitors to lapse into a kind of tourist tunnel vision as they rocket down long stretches of prairie highways.

The allure of, say, Yellowstone National Park or Devils Tower up ahead can blind them to other worthy attractions right outside their minivan windows.

State tourism officials unveiled a system of interpretive kiosks Friday designed to snag some of those highly focused vacationers and help shake loose a little of their pocket change at local businesses.
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The state travel agency and local tourism groups bought 31 of the sleek, touch-screen kiosks and plunked them down at high-traffic sites in every Wyoming county.

The state Legislature appropriated funding for the $333,400 project during the 2004 budget session. Natrona, Sheridan, Sublette and Sweetwater counties bought additional kiosks for a reduced price.

“These are a great interpretive way to showcase Wyoming,” said Diane Shober, director of Wyoming Travel and Tourism.

Will Kerbo from Oklahoma was one of the first to lay hands on the new kiosk at the Summit Visitor Center on Interstate 80 near Laramie Friday. Kerbo sampled the list of 10 local attractions and took a virtual aerial tour of the state's rugged backcountry.

“It gives you the opportunity to find out what's going on and what the place is like without having to rely on someone's memory,” said Kerbo, who was traveling with his wife to Idaho.

Cheryl Zimlich of Fort Collins, Colo., took a DVD tour of regional attractions on the kiosk, which she called “cool.”

“It's like a narrative that talks about Wyoming,” Zimlich said.

A company called KIOSK Information Systems Inc. of Louisville, Colo., created the machines, which feature high-resolution video, adjustable audio and a warm voice interpreting Wyoming's lesser-known parts.

JoAnn B. Davis, CEO of the Albany County Tourism Board, said tourists don't always have a tightly drawn itinerary when they reach Wyoming, and the kiosks can help fill in the gaps.

“Something like this can keep people longer in the area,” said Davis, noting that 144,000 travelers pass through the Summit Visitor Center during a three-month stretch each summer.

Officials said all the units include information on at least 10 local attractions and are easy to update. They expect them to be particularly popular with the tech-smart generations, but insisted they are simple enough for everyone.

Leila Singleton of Kelly Rizley Advertising in Cheyenne said the kiosks' interactive touch-screen style gives them a leg up on traditional brochures and magazines.

“You get a different perspective,” Singleton said.

Reach capital bureau reporter Jared Miller at (307) 632-1244 or at [email protected]

Posted by keefner at May 24, 2006 03:18 PM