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Keep Six Characteristics in Mind When Deciding on Digital Signage


When updating a hotel, digital signage is often a hot topic. However, with so many products to choose from, it can be overwhelming for hoteliers to decide on what type of signage to include within the hotel.

To begin the process of selecting digital signage, hoteliers must decide what purpose their digital signage will serve. For instance, will the digital signage be used as a Meeting Information Display System (MID) or for promotion of hotel amenities? Will it be used as an information board or digital concierge?

Once an hotelier has determined how the digital signage will be used, he or she can then consider the following six characteristics to help determine which type of signage will work best in which area of his or her hotel.

1.   Will It Be Readable?
For digital displays to be effective, their viewing surfaces must fully support their purpose as a sign: to be readable. Therefore, hoteliers must keep in mind the difference between glossy and anti-glare displays.  A glossy display creates glare and reflects light and images beyond the actual display image. Unfortunately, when larger direct-view displays came on the market, it coincided with the iPhone and iPad which offered glossy display surfaces. Thus, it became fashionable for the early flat panel displays to have glossy display surfaces.

However, glossy display surfaces are not practical as they force hotel guests to physically move around to avoid the glare and reflections. For this reason, glossy displays are never used on any professional video monitors and there is a big business in third-party anti-glare display coverings. If a hotel should also avoid mounting a high-quality anti-glare display behind glass as that would defeat the purpose of the anti-glare treatment.

2.    Interaction Isn't Always Best

Many hotels might think that offering interactive meeting information and wayfinding display systems is the best route to take for digital signage. However, they only serve one guest as a time. Meeting Information Display Systems and Way-finding systems are intended and must serve many guests, sometimes in clusters/groups and sometimes in rapid succession. One guest exploring with an interactive display takes it out of service for all the other guests.

However, interactive displays are terrific for amenity promotion, digital concierge services, etc.

3.    Keep in Mind Special Events

There are times when a single group books the hotel and wants to use the displays throughout the lobby and event spaces to promote their event. This is a potential revenue opportunity for the hotel to consider. If the hotel wants to take advantage of this opportunity, it must make sure its digital signage system is designed to accept content and rout to specific displays.

Additionally, there may be a program sound track associated with the content that the meeting planner wants to feature. In this case, a small localizer speaker and/or an overhead focused pattern speaker might be designed into the installation for this purpose.

4.    Pick the Right Grade

To save money, some hoteliers might consider installing consumer grade displays. However, there are large differences between the grades, even from the same manufacturer. For example, a commercial display will have a more robust power supply and display driver board and will have commercial control circuitry. Consumer displays should be turned on when used and off when not in use, while commercial displays can be turned on and remain on 24 hours/day. Plus, commercial displays can outlast consumer products by three to four times longer service life.

5.    Be Flexible with Sizing

When planning digital signage, hoteliers would do well to consider how the sign is integrated into the interior architecture. MIDS and wayfinding signs are often integrated into the room name signs using frames around the digital display. Sometimes shadowboxes are designed around the displays. Don't stick the display on the wall as if it was an afterthought. And keep in mind that the display will need to be replaced. Likely, that exact model/size will not be available. Therefore, hoteliers should make sure that they can accommodate a smaller or larger display wherever it was originally placed.

6.    Position It Properly

When mounting a display, keep in mind its purpose and which guests will be using it. If it is installed at eye-height, a small group of guests standing in front of the display will block the view of all others. Better to locate the display higher so that it can be seen and read by many people at the same time. Interactive displays are best positioned at standing height, for ease of use. While these displays need to be easily noticed from circulation and activity paths, they do not want to block the path of guests on their journeys. This applies to ALL displays:  NEVER locate any kind of digital sign at the bottom of an escalator.
About Jeff Loether

Jeff Loether is president and founder of Electro-Media Design, Ltd., an audiovisual systems design and acoustical consultation group with expertise in audio, video, control, and related presentation, entertainment, and communications technologies. As independent consultants for 25 years, EMD has provided consulting services for more than 800 projects globally.
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