I read with alerted interest your article titled "Knoxville Tourism Info Kiosks Fall Short" [Shot of Urban by Michael Haynes] which appeared in your March 19 issue, and on behalf of the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation (KTSC) I'd like to respond to your critique of the "TouchKnow&Go" (TKG) kiosks.
You implied that one can't teach an old dog new tricks. However, the KTSC started this process knowing that once Knoxville's "Data Dog" was sent out on his own, he might encounter a few hiccups along the way. Therefore, we consider your article our puppy's first trip to the veterinarian's office and appreciate your comments and suggestions as it's our goal to train the Data Dog so that it can perform to the best of its abilities and be valued as a true service to our visitors and Knoxvillians alike. While your critique was helpful and provided us with valuable insight, some of your criticisms were misleading.
More than a year ago when the KTSC began designing the TKG database, we decided that it was important not to show favoritism to any particular area of Knox County. It would be all-inclusive and there would be overall search categories (restaurants, hotels, attractions, shopping, camping, etc.). When it came to searching by location (downtown, north, east, south, west), we decided it would be fair to list those entries within those particular search parameters randomly. After all, it is the mission of the KTSC to be the preeminent marketing organization for all of Knoxville/Knox County—not just downtown. Even though we are all very proud of our historic and popular downtown area, the KTSC must feature all areas of our community equally.
You mentioned that "the navigation is inconsistent." We were aware of this challenge and were already working to correct the technological coding issue that warranted the inconsistencies. We hope this issue in its entirety will soon be resolved. You mentioned that our listing was "incomplete" in that we had not included downtown's Dazzo's pizzeria. However, in the developmental stages of the TKG database, Dazzo's was included and unfortunately, it fell victim to the technological coding issue I mentioned above. But, the problem specific to the Dazzo's entry has now been remedied and we apologize for any inconvenience.
You wrote we had not included Downtown Grill & Brewery, the "Art Mart" and J's Mega Mart. However, Downtown Grill & Brewery has always been in our database and the "Art Mart" doesn't exist. The "Art Market Gallery" does though (perhaps that's what you meant) and it is listed in our database. J's Mega Mart is considered a convenience store and we do not include convenience stores in our database.
Finally, we were confused by your statement about the TKG's kiosk mapping system. You mentioned that when you pulled up the map, it didn't show you where you were or how to get to your destination. But, the mapping system was designed to do just that–give you directions to a destination with the kiosk being your starting point. Your article prompted us to test the mapping system out and we didn't encounter any problems.
We 100 percent admit to the fact that our TKG system is in its puppy stage and we are adamantly working to correct any complications. With that said, we appreciate your article and felt it was important to inform your readership that the TouchKnow&Go's Data Dog isn't quite the mutt you made it out to be.
Erin Burns Freeman, KTSC Director of Communications