Hotel Wayfinding Interacts with Smartphones

New Integrations Add Interactivity for Guests

Wayfinding screens in hotels are becoming widely accepted as the preferred method of showing floor plans, guiding guests to destinations on the property, revealing session locations for conferences and opening new avenues of engaging guests. But until recently, guests still had to rely on memory as they walked away from the maps on digital displays toward their destination within the property.

Sure, the screens are a huge improvement in navigation, but some still lack the portability that guests might desire ─ especially those guests without a photographic memory. As long as hotels are investing in digital wayfinding, it’s worth exploring ways to make the medium more effective and create a “WOW!” moment for guests relying on today’s mobile technology to get around.

Access to content that a guest saw on a digital sign can be transferred to a smartphone, or provided via an automatic printout direct from the display, so the information travels with the guest as they walk away. Printing functionality is becoming increasingly popular as an easy way to immediately provide guests with a paper printout of walking or driving directions via a printer connected directly or built into the display. However, one of the more technologically innovative ways of transferring directional content is by integrating tag graphics directly into the content that can be read by a tag reader application, a free app that can be quickly downloaded on to a guest’s smartphone.

Here is how it works: The hotel adds a tag to the digital signage content system, which consists of a small square graphic that sits within the content on the screen. A guest can then point their smartphone camera at the tag graphic, capture the image and the phone’s browser is directed to a custom webpage with all the directional details they need. In a world where people increasingly rely on cell phones for information and wayfinding, this is a natural fit.

When the tag directs the phone’s browser to a webpage, the content can be something as simple as a map. However, hotels are also testing more advanced uses for tags to impart additional information, creating a better guest experience and driving awareness of revenue-generating hotel assets.

For example, some hotels are currently doing pilots where tags are displayed alongside on-site restaurants. This enables guests to grab details on menus or entertainment, and even get a digital coupon for a free appetizer or other promotional item. This is a compelling way to engage the guest, deliver some value and promote attractions on the property. Also underway are pilot programs where conference attendees can use a smartphone to capture a tag that loads the conference agenda, meeting room details and even the guest’s itinerary for an event.

Many guests are already accustomed to using tags since they appear in places like the cover of USA TODAY, which has been a popular newspaper in hotels for years, so guests often already have the app downloaded on their phones. Since the guest experience is everything, the key is quick and easy usability, and the tag reader app is ideal for that very reason. Over three billion tags were printed in the past six months alone, so use of the technology is growing fast.

As you look for innovative upgrades in your properties, adding new capabilities to wayfinding screens, like tags and printing options, can help reinforce the value of your brand and drive repeat business. Coupled with technologies like virtual concierge applications, innovative technology continues to make a palpable difference in the guest experience.

David Levin is president and founder of Four Winds Interactive, a Denver-based company focused on digital communication for hotels, higher education and other markets where interactive digital signage transforms the visitor experience. David can be reached at dlevin@fourwindsinteractive.com

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