Improving visitor information

By | Category: Travel rumblings
the new Orlando Eye

the new Orlando Eye

Readers may remember that I have often written of the importance of tourism information centres. They perform an important role in guiding visitors and as such, have an economic benefit to the local area as well. Some have closed; some are volunteer-manned (which is no means a bad thing is some instances) and some are just static signs at beauty sports and other places where visitors might go. Few new ones open in our countries.

In Florida however, Visit Orlando, has increased facilities for visitors by opening interactive information kiosks along the Florida Turnpike. (The Florida Turnpike runs north-south for more than 300 miles through the state from Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, is a tollway so you pay and is also called Ronald Reagan Turnpike or state road 91.)

Three kiosks will be manned by staff and an additional four will be self-service, the agency said. All will be located at Florida Turnpike service centres, which see about 20 million motorists every year. “It helps expand our reach to visitors not just in our immediate backyard, but beyond our borders in a very nice way,” said George Aguel, chief executive of Visit Orlando. The non-staffed kiosks will have interactive touch screens with video and photo content showcasing Orlando area scenes.

I’m not convinced of the benefit of interactive, unmanned systems because quite often a human being can introduce an attraction or accommodation source to a visitor which the visitor may not have known about or even considered before. A machine may not be able to second-guess what a visitor wants. But I am being churlish; some information is better than none.

A couple of questions come to mind. The first is why Visit Florida isn’t coordinating and introducing this so that the information centres provide information about the whole of the state and, secondly, why we don’t see more over here.

Interactive machines are used in airports – supposedly to measure customer satisfaction – within tourist information centres in some places to reduce queue times and at some railway stations. Couldn’t we have them at motorway service areas instead of those rather tired stands of brochures which invariably have some from the year before? And at most manned railway stations rather than the few? Can’t we have an expansion of the system operating in a few places whereby major retailers have machines? Imagine the increased number of people that might go into shops as a result?


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