Long gone are the days of static digital signs as hoteliers are getting creative with how, where and what information is displayed on media screens.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Tech-forward hoteliers are introducing more creative ways to display digital signage in their properties, with the goal of not just sharing information but also emphasizing guest engagement, sources said.
Robert Hill, GM of the InterContinental Miami, said he recognized the emergence of new supply in Miami’s market over the last five to 10 years, which in 2012 prompted a $30-million renovation of the property that was built in the early 1980s.
Part of that renovation included infusing new technology, including digital media walls, to better capture the energy and excitement of the city, he said.
Placement equals engagement
Digital walls have largely become beacons both inside and outside of hotels, sources said.
On the exterior of the InterContinental Miami, there are two, 19-story digital canvases that light up the building with silhouettes of Miami dancers, Hill said. Inside the lobby, there are seven art walls—each including two LED screens—which are used to share information like community events and local history.
Every morning at 5 a.m., a “good morning” message also goes up on the 19-story digital exteriors to welcome guests to the city, Hill said. And during certain sporting events, celebration messages will scroll across the signs.
“(It) became a beacon on the city skyline,” he said, adding that the signs have been well-received by guests and locals.
The Aloft Philadelphia Downtown features a digital ticker in the lobby archway. (Photo: Aloft Philadelphia Downtown)
The Aloft Philadelphia Downtown opened in August 2017 and features two unique pieces of digital signage: a ticker that runs the length of the arch of one of its lobby doorways and a digital “hello there” sign on the wall behind it. The purpose of the digital ticker is to flash quick news headlines, like the Philadelphia Eagles winning Super Bowl LII, said GM Evan Evans.
Everyone passes through that doorway, he said, and it serves as more than just a source for news.
“When you’re waiting to check in to any hotel (or) waiting to check out … everyone understands that occupied time goes much faster than unoccupied time … when you’ve got something that can engage you, then it seems to go quicker,” he said. “It’s something that you can observe; it’s entertaining for most.”
It also serves as a directional guide, Evans said. Instead of giving verbal directions like “three doors down on your right,” staff members will direct arriving guests toward the digital ticker—which is centrally located in the middle of the Aloft Philadelphia Downtown lobby—to find key spots like the elevator.
The media walls in the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in Coronado, California, provide a social gathering place for guests and especially draw guests to the Cays Lounge, said managing director Sean Clancy.
“The media wall allows us to entertain and communicate with our guests in a big and exciting way,” he said.
Kris Umstattd, Loews Coronado Bay Resort’s director of sales and marketing, said not only are media walls centrally placed in the lobby, but they are also located by one of the hotel’s retail outlets to encourage guests to purchase items.
Beneficial for group meetings
Hill said while business and group travelers are at the hotel for meetings, they can create branding messages to display on the digital art walls.
“A lot of groups will use it. They’ll recognize their sponsors, and they’ll give their sponsors a certain amount of coverage, (giving) them additional opportunities to get exposure, which allows them to be at a higher level of sponsorship,” he said.
The InterContinental Miami also uses the digital walls when meeting planners come for a site inspection and will display a custom, animated welcome message, Hill said, which creates a lasting impression.
Hill said the digital walls have also been key in encouraging business guests to gather in the bar and dining areas during night hours instead of going off-site.
Think multipurpose, not static
Sources said when infusing digital walls, they should serve multiple purposes instead of just displaying a static message.
Umstattd said in peak off-hours the digital walls are used for internal marketing to encourage guests to take advantage of what services the resort offers. They are also used to welcome group meetings, he said.
Evans said the arch design of the Aloft Philadelphia’s digital ticker was intentional because the digital signage in earlier Aloft hotels used to be a flat element that stood in the lobby, a brand standard at the time.
Having digital signage is no longer an Aloft standard, Evans said, but it was important for the Philadelphia property to continue a nonverbal way of telling the brand’s story, so architecture and interior design firm Stonehill Taylor decided to get creative with it, he said.
“We modified the technology from a static hardboard. We applied it at a curve and installed (it) inside the arch, and that’s really special and unique,” Evans said.
Hill said the investment in these tech features is worth it—and they aren’t too expensive—because it enhances the guest experience throughout, outweighing the cost.
All in all, Umstattd said he’s seen digital signage features increase throughout hotels.