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Digital Signage Offers Hoteliers a Way to Serve Guests Better

Aug 17, 2007
Frequent hotel guests are becoming more familiar with the growing presence of digital signs in lobbies, near hotel restaurants and bars and even outside meeting rooms.

That's not too surprising. A recent forecast from market researcher iSuppli Corp. indicated the indoor-venue market for digital signs, which includes hotels, will reach 683,000 units this year and increase at a 26 percent compounded annual growth rate to 1.7 million units in 2010.

According iSuppli, a good deal of the growth will come as hoteliers continue to transition from guest room TVs to flat panel displays, like plasma and LCD screens, and target guests with customized information and entertainment. With the ability to deliver the same information displayed in lobbies to in-room displays, hoteliers can offer guests quick access to what's happening in their facilities from the comfort and privacy of guest rooms.

"How guests perceive their rooms can be more powerful than any other factors in terms of the way they view a hotel's overall value," said Sanju Khatri, principal analyst for projection and large-screen displays at iSuppli. "Delivering a variety of in-room entertainment options may promote greater guest satisfaction, leading to repeat business."

While technology can't replace the human dimension of effective customer service, it has a place in equation, reported The Wall Street Journal. A recent article discussed the use of interactive directories by the Westfield Group designed to replace the traditional static mall map.

While the application centers on a retail use, lessons learned from the rollout of 19 such directories at the Westfield San Francisco Centre are appropriate for hoteliers as well. The directories, along with 11 concierges, guide shoppers to the right store, display bus and train schedules and can be used to make reservations for shoppers at local restaurants.

That same sort of interactivity and convenience, both in-room and in public areas like lobbies, can help to create customer loyalty among guests, attracting repeat business from road weary travelers who know that guest services, reservations and other helpful information is a remote click or screen touch away.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the hotel market in the United States currently is experiencing a boom. Quoting figures from Smith Travel Research, the newspaper reported that the occupancy rate for the first nine months of 2006 was 65.2 percent.

Boosting occupancy rates further may in large part depend on how well guests are treated. A recent article in The International Herald Tribune, pointed out that personalized services -everything from nursing ill business travelers' back to health to delivering guest-requested once-over fashion inspections- offer the industry a way to connect on a personal level with its guests and induce them to return on their next trip.

The appeal of such services to guests is self-evident. What might not be so apparent is how hotel managers looking to minimize costs can deliver them without increasing staff. Based on the success of the Westfield Group with its interactive mall directories, digital signage might be the key.

When properly designed in-room and out-of-room digital signage can transparently collect data from hotel computer management systems, automatically display that information and even connect guests interactively to hotel services and those of preferred vendors. In the process, it can relieve hotel staff from some of their traditional tasks, allowing them to focus on delivering the personalized services that ingratiate the hotel with its guests and create customer loyalty.

While forecasts like iSuppli Corp.'s envision strong growth for digital signage in hotels over the next few years, those predictions will only come to fruition if the technology can help hoteliers succeed in attracting and building a loyal customer base. With the ability to serve up the information guests need and free existing staff to take even better care of hotel guests, the use of digital signage at hotels is likely to achieve its growth projections.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media . Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.
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