Hoteliers Ramp Up Interactive Digital Signage
Twenty years ago, before digital signage was even an industry, hoteliers were using electronic display technology to communicate meeting and event information in their conference centers. Primarily known as electronic readerboards, the application was simple and almost exclusively custom LED panels. Today, those custom LEDs have been replaced by standard digital signage displays and the digital signage industry has taken over the old world of electronic readerboards.
Over the last 10 years, our industry has pushed the envelope for what digital signage can do for hoteliers both inside and outside the conference center. Digital signage applications for hospitality have expanded to include interactive virtual concierge solutions, flight departure boards, interactive information kiosks, video art, digital menu boards, back of house communications, custom guest room TV channels, and more. Digital signage can now be found in all areas of hotel operations and in all types of hotels from select service to full service resorts, casinos, and cruise ships.
Digital signage has proven to make positive impact on guest satisfaction and overall experience. As we all know, the travel experience can be stressful. Digital signs help ease the stress of travel by offering the pertinent information that guests are looking for. From helping guests find their way to keeping them informed of events and property amenities, the versatility of digital signage allows you to communicate with your guests no matter what the message.
Land and Sea
Four Winds Interactive helped Royal Caribbean revolutionize digital signage in the cruise industry when they implemented a fully integrated digital signage network on its newest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas.
As an example, together with Marriott International, we helped the Courtyard by Marriott brand become a pioneer in hospitality digital signage with their interactive virtual concierge, the GoBoard. The GoBoard changed the game when it comes to guest communication with its 57-inch touchscreen as the technological centerpiece of Courtyard’s lobby redesign. Offering guests an interactive experience that helps them find local restaurants and attractions, check the weather forecast, glance at the news headlines, or check the local airports, the GoBoard has been a contributing factor in increased guest satisfaction scores and a jump in loyalty and intent to return scores. Currently installed in more than 260 Courtyards, the GoBoard will eventually be available in all Courtyard by Marriott locations worldwide.
Similarly, Four Winds helped Royal Caribbean revolutionize digital signage in the cruise industry when we implemented a fully integrated digital signage network on its newest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas. With multiple digital signage applications being used on more than 300 displays aboard each ship, the network includes interactive wayfinding, restaurant availability details, guest services kiosks, mustering integration, and daily activity listings, offering communication touch points for each guest throughout the ship.
Knowing that the ships play host to guests from around the world, the content was designed to assist passengers in their native language, whether it is English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, or Portuguese. On any one of 46 touchscreens, guests in search of stepby- step directions to their stateroom can access an interactive mapping feature, similar to the directions produced by popular online mapping solutions. Similarly, guests hoping to satisfy hunger cravings can reference menus for each of the restaurants aboard the ships as well as realtime occupancy rates shown through a color-coded thermometer, indicating seating availability. Passive signage has also operationally supported the ships informing guests of events, production show times, and shore excursions.
At the InformationWeek 500 Conference in the fall of 2010, Royal Caribbean was in the top 10 percent of a list of 500 companies for the most innovative uses of technology, as well as a spot on InformationWeek Magazine’s “20 Great Ideas to Steal” list for its innovative uses of digital signage aboard Oasis of the Seas.
Communication and Revenue
Behind the scenes, digital signage creates cost-savings efficiencies ranging from minimizing demand for guest services and concierge staff to streamlining restaurant operations. Sophisticated data integration between a hotel’s back-end systems (Delphi, Daylight, Opera, Agilysys, Micros, etc.) and your digital signage solutions can result in reduced lines and wait times and increased guest satisfaction.
The breadth of digital signage applications in the hospitality market continues to quickly expand, establishing digital signage as the centerpiece of guest communication. The continued evolution of features such as interactivity and data integration are acting as the catalyst for additional application development.
For example, mobile integration, whether it’s with a guest’s smartphone or tablet device, is gaining increased popularity. Being able to send information direct from a digital sign to a guest’s phone is becoming more and more common. Other features such as smart tag recognition allow directions and other information to be immediately downloaded to a guest’s mobile device from a digital sign.
Courtyard by Marriott’s interactive virtual concierge, the GoBoard, uses its 57-inch touchscreen as the technological centerpiece of Courtyard’s lobby redesign.
Additionally, hotels are beginning to recognize that their digital signs can be revenue generators and are allowing third parties to use the signs as advertising mediums. Built-in advertising tracking modules help hotels track media plays and impressions, giving the hotel the ability to create and track outside advertising opportunities for their property.
As one of the earliest adaptors of digital signage, hoteliers continue to push the envelope with new and exciting applications of the technology. Hoteliers have proven that digital signage can have a strong impact and ROI on enhancing the guest experience, and we look forward to ongoing growth and adoption within the industry.
David Levin is the President of Four Winds Interactive (www.fourwindsinteractive.com), a leader in digital signage solutions for the hospitality market.