Do you remember walking into a restaurant just to slam into the back of a crowded line? What about snagging a paper ticket and waiting in a folding chair until a clerk called your number?
Or — as confusing as it was — grabbing a fistful of brochures when you arrived at a hotel just so you’d know where the heck you were?
Well, we do. Kids these days will never know the stress of following a hastily scribbled map to the college admin building.
Thankfully, digital wayfinding signage is everywhere, and its use keeps growing. You’ll see digital wayfinding in restaurants, hotels, airports, campuses and more.
Forget the tickets, brochures, wait lines and constant phone calls. Digital wayfinding signage is here to stay — and if your business doesn’t keep up, you just might be left in the dust.
[Related: Why You Should Work With a Contractor and Architect Early on in Your AV Project]
What Is Digital Wayfinding Signage?
As a term, it’s a bit of a mouthful. But digital wayfinding signage is pretty much what it sounds like.
In a nutshell, “digital wayfinding signage” means digital screens that help you find information. If you’ve ever spotted a screen that displays locations or products (say, zoomable maps or scrollable items), you’ve likely encountered digital wayfinding signage.
In terms of wayfinding, digital signage is invaluable. But its possibilities go far beyond wayfinding.
Digital signage and wayfinding systems may include digital screens, apps, tablets, touchscreens and kiosks (often interactive). These systems show you where you are and what you can do — and let you take action.
Paired with Internet of Things (IoT) tech and networking, digital signage wayfinding software takes all the sweat out of finding information and, well, getting around. Multiple functions work together to make a digital wayfinding system smooth.
Wayfinding Digital Signage: A Few Examples
Think of a digital wayfinding kiosk in the middle of an airport. Travelers might use the touchscreen and software to make their visit incredibly easy. For example, they might:
- Select their native language.
- View maps of the building and region.
- Find a restaurant.
- Book a table and place an order at that restaurant.
- Check nearby lodging options.
- Secure a room.
- Pay for their food and room.
- Summon transportation.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With digital wayfinding signage, you can gain immense insight, reduce waste and communicate seamlessly — whether you’re a guest or business owner. For example, here are a few benefits a digital wayfinding system can offer you as a business owner:
- Display your building’s layout, menu, services and more.
- Allow guests to view high-definition digital maps and navigate your building.
- Monitor how guests order, pay and check in and out.
- Contact staff instantly.
- Give guests the ability to request service from their room or table.
- Manage inventory with detailed reports of what guests frequently purchase.
- Get micro and macro views of your assets and your guests’ habits.
And that’s still a pretty brief rundown of what digital wayfinding signage can do.
If you’re a business owner, digital wayfinding signage isn’t just impressive … although it’s definitely impressive to guests. Who wouldn’t want to see smooth, integrated screens tastefully displaying a business’s menu, services and floor plan? Even if you’re going for a rustic aesthetic, the right audiovisual (AV) company can work with your decor to make digital wayfinding look natural.
Plus, a digital wayfinder can work as both a practical tool and a marketing device. Guests might become aware of services they didn’t know you offered, and your business blossoms as they spread the word.
And when digital signage involves smart tech, it’s really smart for your bottom line and reputation.
[Related: What to Look for in AV Installation Companies]
How Digital Wayfinding Signage Helps Your Business
Like we mentioned, you’ll see digital wayfinding signage all over the place once you become aware of it. But it holds particular promise for two industries: restaurants and hospitality.
By now, you’ve likely got a solid idea of how digital wayfinding signage can make running your restaurant or hotel extraordinarily easy.
Let’s look a little closer at how digital wayfinding simplifies operations for each sector.
Digital Wayfinding Signage for Restaurants
If you run a restaurant, you undoubtedly know how much time your staff spends dashing back and forth. Guests deserve the attention they pay for, but there has to be a way to streamline the process.
That’s where digital wayfinding signage for restaurants comes in.
For starters, guests can sign in remotely from an app or in-house via touchscreen panel. Maybe they’d like a corner booth or outside table — they can view your restaurant’s floor plan. You could use a digital wayfinding kiosk that lets guests stroll in, make their selections and wait for service.
This simple process eliminates long wait lines and lost business from frustrated (and hungry) folks. And it saves staff the hassle of answering phones, listening for rings and registering guests manually.
You can still do all that, of course, but digital wayfinding solutions give you an excellent alternative to the old-fashioned way. After all, digital wayfinding is a major restaurant upgrade.
Next, you can place tablets loaded with digital wayfinding software at each table. From the table, guests can scroll through your specials, prices and full menu. Then, with a few taps, they can order, pay and get digital receipts (most systems accommodate tipping, too).
Staff can monitor orders from centralized hubs, prepare food and serve it without interrupting guests’ dining experience. If guests find they’d like something else, they can use the tablet, app or touchscreen to request staff assistance or place another order.
For Business Owners
As a business owner, you can view digital wayfinding software to get broad and narrow views of what items guests order most. For example, if guests rarely order your expensive shrimp scampi, you can strike it from the menu or make it a once-weekly special.
And those seemingly minor matters add up to not only saved money but also saved energy. Guests have a frictionless and more pleasant experience. Staff have more time and space, and they can zero in on guests’ precise needs.
Business owners get the best of both worlds — happier staff and more satisfied guests. And that means less turnover and greater business. With beautiful digital wayfinding design, you’ll likely garner social media mentions and word of mouth.
It doesn’t have to be pricey, either. An AV installation company will work with your budget, layout and vision.
[Related: 8 Restaurant Tech Trends on the Rise]
Digital Wayfinding Signage for Hospitality
All in all, digital wayfinding signage offers much of the same benefits to hospitality businesses as it does to restaurants. Of course, there are perks unique to hotels and rental properties.
The same basic systems apply: wall-mounted touchscreen panels, kiosks and/or apps take all your business’s amenities and make them available at guests’ fingertips. From check-in to check-out, guests can view their location, search for services, contact staff and more.
And that’s no small benefit — a sense of control and cohesion elevates any guest’s stay. Plus, they’ll see your business offers the latest in smart tech and cares about their convenience.
On a practical level, both guests and staff have much less footwork to do with the help of digital wayfinding signage. For example, instead of staff juggling calls or knocking on doors, guests themselves can request what they need. They get not only privacy but also instant, unobtrusive service.
With an in-room digital wayfinding system, guests can also view the surrounding area, check where they are in your building and book appointments. For example, perhaps they want a personal night at your exclusive spa or the best table at your in-house restaurant.
For Business Owners
As a business owner, you can cut efforts in areas that might not be in demand. With digital wayfinding software, you can view trends and regularly update your services. Say, if your spa is particularly popular, you might expand its hours or adjust pricing.
Like with restaurants, hospitality business owners can work with AV consultants to integrate digital wayfinding design. If you want your lobby to be ultra-modern and bright, AV specialists can make it happen. But if you want a more down-to-earth look, they’ll work to make your touchscreens, displays and tablets in line with your aesthetic.
And of course, interactive digital wayfinding makes your establishment a cutting-edge destination for travelers. You’ll probably spot hashtags with your hotel’s name on more than a few social media accounts. If you regularly host international travelers, digital wayfinding signage can help you carve out a particularly profitable market niche.
Note: Whether you run a restaurant or hospitality business, we recommend always keeping hand sanitizer nearby. Devices using interactive digital wayfinding software become smudged with use, and cleanliness is paramount. It’s also wise to have staff regularly wipe down touchscreens, tablets and any other public devices that guests use.
[Related: Smart Hotel Benefits for Owners and Guests Alike]
Find Your Ideal Digital Wayfinding System With AV Smart Solutions
At AV Smart Solutions, we specialize in optimizing commercial environments with the latest in smart tech. We’ll work with you to boost business, stun guests and make your AV systems all-around efficient — and gorgeous.
We’ll artfully place your AV equipment, leave no clutter and integrate smart tech with your current decor. You’ll control your systems from one discreet hub, and guests will see only crisp digital wayfinding signage.
Give us a call to streamline your restaurant or hospitality business. If you decide you’d like to expand and add any of our other systems, we’re happy to help.
You can reach us at (425) 655-5052 or fill out our Inquiry Form. One of our AV specialists will be in touch!
Featured image via PxHere