Hospitality establishments and entertainment venues are in a unique position today. Because the bulk of the customer experience exists in the real world for hospitality companies, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, bars and similar venues can make use of their physical spaces to attract, inform and entertain consumers. The key to engaging customers lies in the following digital display technologies: direct-view LED (dvLED) and LCD screens, as well as projectors.
Hospitality companies have traditionally used poster-board products to share promotions and announcements with their customers. Although large paper signs might have sufficed when they were the only option available, large-format screens and laser projectors now provide solutions that are more versatile and more engaging. The guide to digital signage presented here explains how these technologies are changing the game for hospitality businesses.
dvLED And LCD Screens
Whether due to manual wear and tear, the elements or the information on them rapidly becoming outdated, paper signs aren’t always a reliable or practical way to communicate with hospitality patrons. Digital signage in the form of commercial dvLED and LCD displays is offering a better alternative.
Improvements in dvLED and LCD technologies have allowed hospitality businesses to use digital signage in many new ways. Among the deployments hospitality venues can take advantage of, across entertainment, promotional and customer-service purposes, are the following: hotel room or over-the-bar TV screens; wayfinding screens; self-service kiosk screens; drive-thru or counter-side digital menu boards; videowalls; indoor and outdoor display panels; and large-screen displays for conferences, quiz nights and other group gatherings.
Digital signage enables hospitality establishments to transform wall space into something that’s larger and much more engaging and informative. They can present a wide variety of content on the screens, ranging from branded promotions and interactive social-media challenges to instant travel alerts, up-to-date menu content and upcoming specials. And, because they sit on a digital display, rather than a piece of paper, messages can be posted, updated and added to in real time.
The interior and exterior of hospitality venues are filled with surfaces suitable for projected images. Projectors can transform those surfaces, creating an eye-catching, captivating and customizable experience for customers. And projection has become an even more attractive option for many businesses with the advent of laser projectors, which are a smarter choice than traditional, lamp-based projectors. They’re brighter, quieter, longer lasting and easier to maintain.
One imaging technique that is gaining a lot of attention is projection mapping. It enables hospitality establishments to go far beyond standard projection, thereby transforming spaces into something much more engaging. Laser projectors are well suited to map colors, images, videos and even 3D content onto irregular surfaces, such as building exteriors and indoor spaces.
Some creative ways that hospitality businesses can use projection to boost customer engagement include the following: displaying branded images or video content onto any wall for signage purposes; changing the texture of a surface (for example, from transparent to opaque); sharing a broadcast of an event to keep visitors or customers entertained while they wait; shading a certain space with color by mounting a projector at an odd angle; converting a lobby from a daytime atmosphere to one that more befits nightlife; and using edge blending to combine more than one projected image into a larger image.
Before adopting any new technology for a hospitality venue, business owners should take some time to weigh their needs against what they get in return. What follows are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when thinking about display devices:
- Cost: When considering cost, don’t look only at the price tag of the display device, because they’re not all created equal. Consider what your total cost of ownership (TCO) will be if you invest in something less expensive now. Standard maintenance, repairs and earlier replacement of the signage could cost you much more over time. Installation and energy costs must also be weighed.
- Warranty: When it comes to commercial technology, you’ll likely see warranties that range from one to three years, although you can find them up to five years. If you want to protect your investment, look for longer warranty terms, as well as speedy repair or replacement guarantees. That’ll help to minimize downtime.
- Durability: You have a choice of where to place your digital signage, but indoor and outdoor placements can lead to undesirable circumstances if your technology isn’t made specifically for those utilizations. Consider investing in rugged, commercial-grade technology that can withstand heat (for kitchens), resist water (for outdoor placements) and fight glare.
- Purpose: Give some thought to what you need, what content you want to create and to whom you aim to deliver it. Does immersive projection or engaging signage make more sense?
- Surfaces: Once you’ve sorted out the purpose of your signage, think about where it will go in terms of surfaces and mounts. Laser projections can display images over much larger spaces, so keep that in mind. They can also be less physically intrusive than digital signage, because projectors sit out of harm’s way even as the projected image can be found on almost any surface.
- Runtimes: In some cases, digital signage won’t be needed all day; in other cases, you might need extended runtimes (think about venues in Times Square or Las Vegas NV that are open all day and all night).
- Your Establishment: When new signage is installed in or around your establishment, someone will be affected by it. Suppose you’re driving new promotions on an external display—will your kitchen be prepared to handle the influx of traffic? Suppose you’re shining a spotlight on a new act performing at the club—have you worked out the kinks in your sound system? Think ahead to ensure your new digital signage complements your capabilities and workflows.
The Future Of Signage
Hospitality venues stand to gain a lot from using new digital display technologies. This engaging style of marketing does all of the following: provides a more welcoming and engaging ambience; draws attention to new or special features, events and offers; updates content and venue information in real time; increases customer dwell times and spend; improves the speed and accuracy of the ordering experience; and boosts customer engagement through interactivity, which helps improve revenue in a retail environment.
Because of the highly unique way in which digital signage can be used, hospitality establishments can change typical, everyday images and videos into something truly engaging and extraordinary.