At the heart of most accommodation businesses is the lobby.
It’s where guests become oriented and where they wander and linger, searching out food, friends, charging stations and a social space in which to work. It’s where they make up their mind about return visits – research showing guests form their impression of a hotel within the first ten minutes of being there.
If your lobby provides dynamic movement through digital displays, it shows consumers you understand their digital world and provides a sense of connection.
Digital signs establish communication and share information with guests quickly and effectively; but just as importantly, they allow businesses to deliver marketing and informational campaigns efficiently to a targeted audience.
They allow interaction and, with the addition of a sensor, can even gather audience analytics which track factors such as how many people viewed the screen, their age and their gender to allow content delivery based on demographics.
As technology becomes prevalent in architectural design, digital signage used in ever-more-inventive ways will become key to the customer experience.
A 2017 report by Digital Signage Today found some 60 percent of retailers surveyed listed ‘improved customer service’ as a key benefit of digital signage, and almost half chose ‘branding’ as the top reason companies will invest in digital signage in the next two years.
Which means digital signage may be useful for consumers, but it also improves accom’s ability to sell itself.
What works best where?
There are many different ways digital signage can improve the guest experience while enhancing your business.
Readerboards, wayfinding screens, video walls and virtual concierges all provide access to important information.
While signs can be anything from small digital door mounts to large multi-screen displays, the most common found in accommodation are large-scale wall-mounted screens used to attract and brand, and medium-sized standalone or wall-mounted units which promote, navigate, educate and assist.
Readerboards are used to convey large amounts of information that people can easily consume on the go. In the lobby, they can present important information to guests like check-out times, weather and traffic news.
They can also be used to direct guests to the various revenue-generating areas around a property, including conference rooms. They allow the display of localised information like meeting times and company descriptions. And the screen can be customised into multiple zones for different events or provision of additional content.
Targeted messages can steer guests to specific areas you want to promote. For example, a Thursday night ‘special’ offered at your restaurant.
In the event of an emergency, readerboards can provide up-to-the-minute communication to minimise confusion.
Wayfinding screens with navigation software can guide guests through your accommodation. Hotel lobbies can be a confusing hive of activity; digital signage that directs people relieves pressure on a busy front desk.
In addition to the lobby, they can be placed strategically around lifts, common areas and hallways and can again be used to guide guests to areas that increase revenue – bars and casinos, for example.
Video walls provide a real wow factor in open areas. Their large-scale size and placement is designed to capture guests’ attention. A video wall can be a unique piece of art that promotes the hotel brand, sets a tone for the space or displays revenue-generating advertisements.
Uniqueness is a key factor for many providers, and video walls provide ultimate flexibility through traditional, grid or mosaic-style displays.
They also offer value as a large-scale educational space promoting events and attractions, welcoming conference guests, inviting social media interaction or displaying prices to upsell rooms.
Virtual concierges are another form of interactive touchscreen effective in directing guests through travel-related information (like how to find shopping hubs). They can allow promotion through the use of QR codes to unlock hotel packages and can plug specials, coupons and vouchers. External advertisers such as tour operators can also advertise through them to promote themselves, proving additional revenue for your hotel.
Scalable and flexible
Whether you’re a multi-million-dollar Gold Coast hotel or a motel in Maroubra, digital signage is flexible and scalable, allowing for a single standalone sign all the way through to an integrated system to guide guests around.
Quality manufacturers will design and deliver custom solutions and offer comprehensive content planning, design and management support services.
Of course, you can get creative with signage.
Just like lighting, foliage and furniture, latest digital signage solutions can be used to define spaces, create style and direct guests’ gaze to certain areas.
One American style-setter, the Aloft Philadelphia Downtown, features a narrow curved sign that follows the shape of an arch over one of its lobby doorways. While it flashes news headlines and keeps waiting guests entertained, it also draws them to the centre of the lobby so they can then find key spots, such as the lifts.
Travis Anderson of Corporate Initiatives told us: “Something that is often asked by accommodation managers is how to get better communication with guests. Hoteliers and moteliers are aware that guests want to be engaged by their accommodation with the latest in information, and this information needs to be relevant to their stay whilst at the property.
“Accommodation managers also needs to be able to provide their own staff with good strong communication as well. Overall, digital signage needs to be able to empower the relationship between guests and staff.
“Whilst digital signage has been part of the industry for years, it has only recently ventured further than the accommodation televisions we see in the rooms.
“General use of digital signage was limited to ideas of promoting restaurants and in-room movies. But there is a trend for accommodation to meet the next generation of guests who are interested in real communication and this is where there is a new revolution.
“There are numerous and various ways in which digital signage can transform the way of communication to guests and increase their experience.
“They include promotion; informing your guests about opportunities, specials and other types of promotions within the accommodation or even through the vicinity of the property. This can create new and additional return on investment with affiliates.
“And information about hotel amenities; having guests interact and explore within the accommodation by showcasing other amenities throughout the property such as fitness gyms, restaurants, gift shops, spas and conference rooms.”