Enhance Traveler Experience with Digital Signage

Oct. 13, 2016
Digital signage provides a unique opportunity to enhance the customer experience and operations.

Gone are the days of paper signs and delays in getting updated information out to travelers. We live in a real-time world and travelers expect real-time, relevant information at their fingertips. Visual communications using devices like digital signs and interactive kiosks can enhance the travel experience by helping people get to where they need to go safely, efficiently and effectively.

Arming your travelers with the right information, at the right time can ensure a positive experience in an environment that demands real-time sensitive information.

By implementing a digital signage platform, airports have the ability to:

  • Keep passengers safe; emergency notifications can interrupt regularly scheduled content
  • Improve operations by reducing the workload of employees
  • Deliver real-time location-based information, such as arrival/departure times, cancellations and delays, or service stoppage
  • Reduce environment footprint
  • Be a “travel guide” through interactive wayfinding kiosks

As advancing technology continues to enhance the many operational aspects of airports, implementing a digital signage platform still remains an important investment.

Improved Traveler Experience at John Glenn International Airport

Centrally located in Ohio with a diverse mix of air carriers, John Glenn International Airport is the airport of choice for millions of passengers each year. The airport is operated by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, which also oversees the operation of cargo-dedicated Rickenbacker International Airport and general aviation airport Bolton Field. John Glenn International Airport offers about 150 daily departures to 32 destinations and serves over 6 million passengers each year.

The airport launched an $80 million renovation in 2013. As part of that project the airport wanted to expand its digital signage network to improve passenger communications and experience. Included in the project was the addition of more video walls and signage over the ticket counters to provide airlines the flexibility to direct customers to particular counters for check-in priority and baggage management.

While hardware was important, the airport recognized software was critical and it wanted a single platform to manage its visual communications throughout the airport. Its installation is comprised of 44 x 14 foot LED video walls over the entries to Terminals A and C and 62 ticket counter screens in the renovated airport. The two video walls are comprised of single, high-resolution direct view LED screens and provide an outstanding graphics capability way beyond what the airport had previously deployed. Digital signage software allows the displays to be driven pixel-to-pixel, ensuring crisp text and images.

Each video wall features a mixture of real-time flight information as well as advertisements and other important community messaging and important information for travelers. The 62 ticket counter screens were designed to make updating the information easy with a simple touchscreen, graphical interface. Advertising revenues have also increased by over 50 percent with the new video walls and the outstanding quality of visuals they are able to present. Future plans include integrating information on checkpoint wait-times and social media content from the airport's social channels with the other content on the screens.

Interactive Wayfinding Kiosks: The New Way to get from point A to B

Some airports still hire people to stand in strategic locations to direct foot traffic, which can be a very expensive solution. Airport kiosks can include information on popular destinations, restaurants, shops and hotels, as well as timely information on local events and possibly the opportunity to buy attraction tickets. By allowing kiosks to be interactive, hungry travelers can use a digital wayfinding system to locate their gate, but also to see what food offerings are in that particular area. Since digital signage networks can be updated quickly in real-time, signs can dynamically change to direct travelers to their flights by the name of their destination, not just point to their intended gate. Automatic RSS feeds can keep the boards updated with features such as weather reports or breaking news.

By integrating interactive wayfinding in your airport, you also have the ability to handle key requirements such as:

1. Multifloor/Multiregion: Some locations may reside across multiple floors or multiple regions, such as another building or terminal. Transfer points, such as stairs, elevators and escalators (or trams, bridges and tunnels), need to be identified but may not be applicable to all viewers.

2. Conditional formatting: Some elevators may not operate at certain times of the day or escalators may change direction depending on the traffic requirements. The system should be able to decide the appropriate route based on current conditions and time of day.

3. Customizing for the viewer: For the physically impaired, wayfinding can be a challenge since certain routes may not be accessible depending upon the disability. For this audience the height of touchpoints on a screen must dynamically adjust to suit the reach of the viewer. On a large terminal map, it may be necessary to have both macro and micro views depending on the distance to the destination.

4. Auxiliary information: There is often information related to a wayfinding inquiry that can also assist the viewer. It could be a store description, details such as hours of operation or advertising about current promotions. Turn-by-turn directions may be provided by printing a map, or texting directions to a mobile device in the form of an SMS message.

5. Updates: Things change over time and one of the big advantages of digital displays is the speed at which updates can occur and the ease of distributing updates. The challenge for short-term changes such as an escalator closed for maintenance must also be accommodated. Be aware that many wayfinding solutions require coding to make changes, which are expensive and often laborious, and are not reflected on the screens in real time.

6. Emergency procedures: Emergency evacuation procedures should be built into an interactive wayfinding solution indicating the closest exit and automated triggers. In addition, the system should be able to direct traffic away from trouble, not towards it, so if a fire alarm is triggered near an exit, traffic should be directed to an alternate exit automatically.

Digital signage is a great way to modernize and enhance the airport environment and the traveler experience, while at the same time creating revenue opportunities in concert with on-site retailers while delivering relevant real-time location-based information.

Omnivex is a member of the Digital Signage Federation, the only independent, not-for-profit trade organization serving the digital signage industry. The DSF supports and promotes the common business interests of worldwide digital signage, interactive technologies and digital out-of-home network industries. To learn more, go to www.digitalsignagefederation.org

Doug Bannister is considered by many as a visionary in the digital signage space. In his role as CEO and CTO Doug is responsible for the long-term product architecture and the overall vision for Omnivex. He has always maintained direct responsibility for the architecture of the software to ensure the product remains at the forefront of the industry. Combined with his vision, leadership and experience as an entrepreneur in the LED sign market, Doug has used his understanding of customer requirements and knowledge of technology to create one of the leading software solutions for the digital signage industry.

About the Author

Doug Bannister | CEO & CTO