Sonora, Texas, Energizes Tourism with Visitor Kiosks

From Massachusetts to Washington, Advanced Kiosks clients are using tourism kiosks to promote their local attractions, historical sites, dining and accommodations. Now we’re pleased to announce we have a much more central tourism hub. Sonora, Texas, is exactly halfway between the Florida and California coastlines and exactly halfway across the State of Texas. It’s a small community of barely 3,000 people. Sonora didn’t even have a visitors’ center until the town banded together to make its heritage and natural wonders more accessible to the steady stream of Interstate 10 travelers passing by every day. Thanks to some creative collaboration, now Sonora doesn’t just have one visitor center; they have three. And thanks to custom user interface design, each visitor kiosk is a thing of beauty.

Planning an I-10 Exit Strategy

Caverns of Sonora

Caverns of Sonora

David Smith served on the board of the Sonora Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for years before he became manager of the business growth organization. He knew the town just couldn’t justify the resources to build and staff a traditional visitors center. He sat down with a map and a question, “What can I do to entice people off Interstate 10?” I-10 gets a lot of vacation traffic, especially families traveling to Big Bend National Park. Why wouldn’t folks want to take a day or two and explore Sonora’s Wild West history and natural beauty?

David just needed to find a cost-effective way to publicize Sonora’s attractions and assets. He identified three high-traffic areas around Sonora: the breathtaking Caverns of Sonora to the west, a Road Ranger Travel Center to the north, and a soon-to-be Love’s Travel Stop to the east. He took to the internet with a picture in his head of wood and fiberglass kiosks with glossy trifold brochures.


A Different Kind of Kiosk

Sonora Merchant MaxA quick Google search for “kiosks” brought David to our website. “When I saw the product line, I immediately abandoned the idea of a wooden or plastic structure and turned my mind to choosing an Advanced Kiosks unit.” The self-service, interactive kiosks were sure to grab attention.

Initially, David liked our Freestanding Kiosk. He figured its manageable size would make it easy to use. But in the end, he couldn’t resist the commanding presence of the Merchant Max. Standing at almost 6 feet with a brilliant 32” touchscreen, it provides a great bang for the buck. After all, the whole purpose of this project was to stop travelers dead in their tracks and wow them into taking that Sonora exit!

The Merchant Max boasts another eye-catching feature. Its frosted acrylic top is illuminated with a ring of LED lights. Preinstalled on every kiosk we ship, our Zamok kiosk management software offers LED Lighting Control. You can choose from 1.6 million different colors on the RGB spectrum and set the brightness of the lights to act as an accent piece or attention-getter.

Community Cooperation for Virtual Visitor Centers

Armed with the knowledge of what a tourism kiosk makes possible, the Sonora EDC and the Sonora Chamber of Commerce brought stakeholders together for the Energizing Sonora Tourism initiative. There were a lot of moving parts. First, the Sutton County Historical Society and Eaton Hill Nature Center & Preserve committed to building volunteer programs that would allow them to increase their hours and be open on the weekends. Previously, both small nonprofits received less than 5,000 visitors per year, while the Caverns of Sonora welcomed 25,000 sightseers a year. The goal was to get those other 20,000 people into Sonora proper, and it required more OPEN signs.

The three proposed kiosk locations readily signed on to host the visitor kiosks and even generously offered to provide internet service to the machines. The ranching family who owns the Caverns of Sonora has been a pillar of the community for years. They quickly agreed to help the other area attractions amp up by offering a joint discount ticket to all the sites, even hosting the ticket purchasing portal and handling the accounting (splitting and distributing ticket proceeds quarterly). Of course tickets may be purchased at each visitor kiosk. Credit card readers are one of our most popular options.

With the approval of the Sonora Tourism Committee, the kiosk installation was paid for by Sonora’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue. As David explains, “These funds can only be used for projects dedicated to promoting tourism. Nothing is more committed to promoting Sonora tourism than my kiosks!”


Custom Interface Design Brings Kiosks to Life

Sonora Kiosk Interface

The final piece of the Energizing Sonora Tourism puzzle was designing an attractive, user-friendly custom interface. Think of it as the face of the visitor kiosk. David hired a local company, Frey Creative Media, and they hit it out of the park with a fixed-resolution interface designed specifically for the kiosk touchscreen.

Advanced Kiosks gives you lots of options when it comes to creating your kiosk’s user interface. If you already have digital content, Zamok Homepage Solution offers templates that make it easy for you to create buttons pointing to that content. Zamok’s lockdown kiosk software keeps your kiosk secure by keeping users exactly where you want them. No surfing unsavory sites.

We also offer custom interface design. We will work with you to design content specially made for your kiosks. A custom interface can really bring your tourism kiosk to life with exactly the look and feel you want. Vibrant images and bold text draw people in, while fixed-resolution design minimizes scrolling for the most natural user experience possible.

Give us a call to determine which kiosk interface design is best for your project.

See You in Sonora!

We really enjoyed getting to know the people of Sonora, Texas, and we’re happy to report the feeling is mutual. David says, “Advanced Kiosks so neatly satisfied my requirements. I really have enjoyed working with them. They’ve done a great job for me!”

So next time you’re traveling through, pay attention to where Hill Country meets West Texas. Watch for signs to Sonora. Stop at a conveniently located visitor kiosk to appreciate the custom user interface and plan your visit. For goodness’ sake, get off the highway!


Written by Amy Robison, contributing author

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