4 Steps to Turning Digital Displays into Dollars

Historically the term “room scheduling signage” was primarily limited to the meeting and convention space. For MGM Resorts this all began with small format displays outside of meeting rooms with a direct feed to scheduling software that would display the group’s name along with meeting start and stop times. When these rooms were not being utilized these screens would default to displaying internal marketing content.
At that time this was a huge step forward from the old green dot matrix message boards that most facilities were showing. Fast forward to the present and these screens have become more than just a “room information” device. Due to our large footprint of OSX and IOS software we are beginning to leverage the BLE technology that is in Apple hardware. We have begun implementing triggers that push out dynamic offers based on inventory at the specific time that a meeting is ending based on the scheduling software.
A simple example would be if an all-day meeting is scheduled to wrap up at 5 p.m. and we know that several hundred attendees will be headed back to their rooms, that is the time to message coordinated amenities, such as drinks, dinner or entertainment offers that are not only displayed on specific screens, but can be pushed wirelessly and tracked via blue dot technology. 
If you are considering the implementation of room scheduling signage, here are four considerations to take into account for a seamless installation. 
  1. Appropriate Hardware
At the heart of any digital signage installation is the hardware, most notably a playback device and display.  When scheduling system implementation there is the potential for use of both large format and small format displays, either of which may have touch functionality.  It is important to pick a display that is durable and reliable as these screens are the lifelines to guide each and every one of your guests to their proper location during an event.  It is equally important that the device not only be reliable but also compact in size, as individual room signs are typically small form factors and require the playback devices to be hidden behind them.
  1. Consider Infrastructure
Infrastructure not only takes into account space and aesthetics (to secure and hide the equipment), but also includes the “plumbing” that supplies power and connectivity, which is really the make or break portion of a project. If there are power constraints or physical plant requirements that force a choice of screen installation locations in areas that are not as aesthetically pleasing, or require having to core drilled through block walls, or run external mounted conduit everywhere; just stop now. These are the types of unforeseen obstacles that are never included in the original budget, which usually includes only the price of a screen, player and software – all of which tend to be the cheapest components of most digital signage budgets.
  1. Selecting Software
Software is the magic that takes your screen, playback device, power and data and turns it into a full-blown scheduling system. You may have an existing software platform or have picked one recently, but need to confirm that it will interface with an existing sales system such as Daylight or Delphi. To ensure the system operates properly someone on staff must be directly responsible for the interface, maintenance, and system upgrades that will be required going forward. To maximize your system’s effectiveness, you will need to pull all scheduling information on a real-time basis because scheduling can become an ongoing operating expense that never ends and may require 24/7 monitoring.
  1. Finding Opportunities for Revenue Generation
If you have clearly defined what can be monetized and have a dedicated sales force that is well versed in ancillary revenue opportunities, this can result in incremental revenue that will justify the entire capital expense of the project IF the footprint of the system is large enough. Our sales groups now include this as part of their initial sales package when booking everything from a wedding to a large convention.
At MGM Resorts we have converted this opportunity into a steady revenue stream through our convention sales department by pushing specific graphic images such as company logos to meeting room displays, the registration desk, and convention wayfinding displays along with in-room TV systems. In summary what started out as a simple display implementation has now become a dynamic integrated ecosystem that will continue to evolve over the life of the product.
Adam Feldman is executive director of guest technology for MGM Resorts International. He currently oversees the team responsible for AV systems design, implementation and support as well as distribution of digital content.  Feldman will be a panelist on the Digital Signage Federation’s November “Hangout” discussion entitled, “Implementing Room Scheduling Signage,” on November 10 at 2 pm EST.
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