Interactive digital signage deployments are flourishing in the hotel and hospitality industry. But it's important that the still-growing adoption of the technology be done right, right now, to prove the case for continued future growth.
So what are some key considerations to doing hotel interactive digital signage right? Digital Signage Today, a Kiosk Marketplace sister site, recently spoke with two industry experts with a wealth of experience putting interactive digital signage into hotels, resorts, spas and casinos, one from the hardware side, one from the software side.
First, the hardware perspective:
"First of all, with digital signage, regardless of the vertical market, you want to drive the business agenda with the customer, the end-user," said Dan Smith, director of signage sales for digital signage display provider LG Electronics USA Inc.
So whether that business agenda is getting hotel guests to enroll in a loyalty program or offering virtual concierge services as a brand differentiator, that's what the solution is there to do, he said.
"A big part of it is not thinking of the technology but just using the technology to deliver your business agenda," he said.
And to achieve that business agenda there are a few key things to keep in mind, top among them making sure the content on the solution is relevant, and making sure the signage is in the right place.
That content can be hyperlocal-specific content, such as what's on the menu at the nearest restaurants, or venue-specific content, such as the cost of the jet skis for rent at a beachfront resort.
"Our most successful installations have been the ones that are by the front desk check-in," Smith said. "So basically it's becoming an electronic concierge almost; plus it can do things a concierge can't do in terms of information that's available."
And the information has to be kept up-to-date, he said. "Putting the technology there isn't really the point; the point's the communication, and if the communication isn't timely, relevant and updated it's not going to help."
Finally, as in so many other things in life, what's important in hotel digital signage kiosks? Location, location, location. "If you go to the lobby and you go in and see the digital signage off to the side somewhere, the exposure rate is going to be extremely low," Smith said.
And now the software perspective:
Ross Bernstein, the vice president of hospitality and gaming sales at digital signage software provider Four Winds Interactive, broke down five key elements of a successful hospitality deployment.
"I think the No. 1 thing you want to take into consideration if you're an owner/operator (of a hotel) is somehow enhancing the guest experience," he said, essentially rephrasing Smith's first point. "Their goal is to maintain a loyal following of business travelers and recreational travelers, and enhancing their experience not only from a technology perspective but certainly from an information-provided perspective I think is really important these days."
No. 2, Bernstein said, is making certain that the appropriate applications are running on the digital signage. Whether it's an app to provide flight updates or entrainment possibilities or wayfinding for a conference, hotel digital signage should make sure that guests have the information they need or want at their fingertips
No. 3, he said, is simple. "It's got to look good; it absolutely has to look good — and when I say it has to look good, it can't be the same exact thing every time a customer walks in."
Most interactive digital signage offerings have the capability to change backgrounds or change presentation formats, so use that capability, Bernstein said. Too often end-users have a tendency to "set it and forget it," he said, sometimes for years. "The good news is, it's still chugging along, works just fine; the bad news is, after the guest's about fourth time they don't even pay attention to it anymore. So it's using the tool as it was meant to be used."
No. 4, the signage has to not only look good, but look right. The content on the solution in a Sheraton or Hilton or Marriott should fit the right brand, and not be inconsistent with it, he said.
And No. 5, "the solution has to be easy to use," he said. Typically, personnel in the hospitality industry tend to be somewhat transient, so if a hotel's designated digital signage manager picks up and leaves for another hotel, "you've got to be able to get someone slotted in there quickly and easily," Bernstein said.
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