a-room-with-a-viewDigital signage is fast becoming the industry standard for trade show booth design, and digital wayfinding menu boards are the new way that conventions and trade shows tell potential customers that “you are here”. These boards are made possible by cheap large screen TVs as well as increasingly inexpensive touch screens that attendees can interact with. Trade show booths are not cheap to set up and run, so optimally exploiting digital wayfinding boards will allow you to optimise your ROI by getting as much foot traffic as possible to your booth. Here’s a few things to think about to help you to do just that.

Finding Your Way

Wayfinding on digital signage ranges from general, i.e., highlighting major destinations, to personalized, i.e., showing a GPS-like view plus step by step directions. The type of wayfinder your trade show uses will very much depend on the show, and will depend on its budget as well as the complexity of the environment and how much information the organizers feel that people need, but you should be aware of how attendees will be presented with show information in order to maximize your impact. There are various different wayfinding map types:

  • Static, where only a map and associated information are displayed. This does not allow attendee interaction, but colour, graphics, feeds, and animations can make it more eye-
  • Dynamic non-interactive, where information may change depending on triggers like database updates for events, evacuation directions, etc. Individuals cannot however    query the display.
  • Dynamic interactive, which allows users to select various options to select their destination and get paths and directions, typically using a touch-based display, although          older systems may still use physical buttons or a mouse/trackball.

Depending on the type of wayfinder, communicating with the show organizers can pay dividends here, as you can then customize your signage appropriately (for example, using an animated logo instead of a booth number for a dynamic wayfinder).

Taking Advantage

It’s important to understand the various features of digital wayfinders so that you can take advantage of what they can do to maximize your foot traffic. Wayfinder kiosks typically have multiple language options as well as disabled access features, to ensure that all customers can be catered for. However, for some people with disabilities, or who have an aversion to technology, a member of the venue staff will have to be available to give assistance. In these case, make sure that the staff know where you’re located so that they can guide the person appropriately.

Sometimes, wayfinder systems may have the ability to show adverts or information as a graphic or animation, so even if the attendee isn’t specifically looking for your booth you may be able to point them in the right direction anyway! It may eat into your advertising budget somewhat, but you might find that this approach pays dividends. Also, if the wayfinder has the opportunity for dynamic interaction, you may be able to highlight your company and guide people to your booth after they use various search terms.

Besides trade shows, digital wayfinding systems are useful for various other locations. You’ve probably seen and interacted with them yourself. Take some time to explore different systems and become familiar with them. You can find them in some of the following places:

  • Conventions (Comic-Con, etc.)
  • Office Buildings
  • Tourist Information Centres
  • Supermarkets
  • Mall Guides
  • Airports
  • City Centres
  • Hospitals
  • Theme Parks
  • Bus Routes

Once you have a good idea about what these systems can do, you will have a better idea about how to use them to your advantage.

Alternative Directions

No solution is perfect for every eventuality, and there’s always the possibility that the wayfinder just isn’t set up in a useful way, or that technical problems cause it to stop working for some reason. It’s good to be prepared for every eventuality, so consider leaving strategically placed printed maps, or designing portable device navigation where users can download a smartphone app that gives them directions straight to your booth. The possibilities are manifold, so make sure you’ve covered every angle and you’ll have a steady stream of traffic from the minute the show opens!


Robert Gombos

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