NEWTON, NC — If you are headed to Myrtle Beach for a vacation this summer, you might notice something new in one of the many hotels along the Grand Strand.
More than 40 hotels in the Myrtle Beach area now have large touch-screen kiosk, or concierge service, that allows vacationers to find a place to eat, get a break on the cost of that food, print boarding passes for the flight home or get the latest fishing conditions.
What you may not know is a company in downtown Newton, One Source Solutions, came up with and supplied those machines. And while there might be other companies offering the touch-screen concierge service, One Source Solutions officials say they’re the first to offer a way to print out coupons or get them on a smart phone.
And they think the company offers a superior and larger product. The ones the company is providing in Myrtle Beach are called “Grand Strand Information Station.”
Don Essary, president and an owner of One Source Solutions, said he thinks before it’s all said and done, his company’s touch-screen kiosk could be in every vacation destination in the world.
The company supplies the normally 46-inch touch-screen kiosk to hotels for free. But it’s not free for the company to produce. Each one costs One Source Solutions $12,500. Advertisers, in turn, pay to be on the kiosk.
In addition to showing weather with live Doppler radar, news, sports and scores and high and low tides, golf enthusiasts can research golf courses and see the score card and signature card of a particular course, Essary said. Or you can look up arrivals and departures at the airports or see the menu of your favorite restaurant. You also can see schedules of local events, local medical and spa facilities, nightclubs and even auto care businesses.
The company’s information stations are in more than 40 hotels in the Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Surfside Beach and Garden City areas.
Some of the hotels where the company’s information stations are located include Tilghman Beach & Golf Resort and the Ashworth in North Myrtle Beach; Sandcastle Resort at the Pavilion, Fairfield Inn at Broadway at the Beach; Surfside Beach Resort; Royal Garden Resort in Garden City; and the Holiday Inn Express at Murrells Inlet.
Todd Leventis, general manager of Ashworth in North Myrtle Beach, wrote to one of the company owners, Toby Dietz, in early May about how the information station worked for a man who was looking for a different property to rent during the summer.
Leventis said the man wanted to look at what rentals they had in person. Since the property was booked, Leventis couldn’t show any of the units in person but was able to show the man photos of the units on the information station. The man booked a place before he left.
Leventis said in the e-mail to Dietz that he’s sure the man would not have booked a place if they didn’t have the ability to show him the photos.
Essary said hotels and rental spots, including campgrounds, also could use the stands to show customer amenities.
So far, the stations have worked like a charm.
“It’s a lot of money. We’ve spent a lot of money on this project,” Essary said. “We’re either going to be broke or rich.”
Essary and his partners — his brother Scott Essary, Dennis Crawford, Todd Hardin and Dietz — are betting on the latter.
Essary said it has taken a year and a half to get to this point.
Businesses are looking for a new way to get people’s attention, Essary said.
Essary said he hopes the business booms in the Myrtle Beach area. They attracted a lot of attention at the Myrtle Beach Hotel Trade Show in the spring, where the company unveiled the information stands.
Company officials are hoping the information stands will be in 100 locations by the end of next year. They’re hoping the information stands boom in Myrtle Beach, and they can move on to other vacation destinations.
Essary wants the company’s product in every vacation destination in the world. He and his partners have talked about franchising the business, which would create hundreds of jobs locally, Essary said, including jobs for ad builders.
But finding the needed money in the current economy is a challenge. Banks have not been eager to lend money. Essary said the information stand portion of the company could grow a lot faster than it currently is if the money was available. He said the information stations have to pay for themselves.
It’s not just vacation spots where Essary and his partners believe their product could be used.
Two of the other possibilities for their product are way finding for hospitals and shopping outlet complexes.
“The ideas are endless,” Essary said.
One Source Solutions has three businesses under its umbrella. In addition to the information stands, the company includes credit/debit card and check processing, servicing and processing ATMs, as well as rapid exposure digital advertising.