There are clearly a lot of challenges for the tourism industry at the moment. With travel restrictions in place and a limit on social interactions, some of the basic elements of tourism have been severely strained.
However, while international tourism has been limited, local tourism has seen a big spike. Where travel bans have affected people’s holidays, they have adjusted their plans and found alternatives and this has helped business weather this past summer.
While the winter will no doubt see greater restrictions in place again, the simple fact is that people still need a break and the ability to get away (perhaps more than ever.) This means that businesses that have invested in their COVID protocols could be in a position to make the most out of a difficult situation.
However, at Meridian, we believe that investing in your COVID protocols shouldn’t just be a short-term investment while the pandemic is here. When you invest in technology such as digital signage and Wayfinding, you’re investing in something that’s going to benefit your business both during these difficulties and after the pandemic has gone.
Responding to COVID
As we mentioned in our recent article about Wayfinding in education, it’s difficult to write an article in 2020 without starting with COVID-19.
For businesses in every sector, the pandemic represents one of the biggest challenges since the Second World War. This is particularly true in tourism, which has been particularly affected by regulations, however, challenges are there to be overcome, and there are lots of businesses that are doing just that.
Digital signage and Wayfinding can help with your business’s response to COVID and make sure you're best prepared to overcome this unique challenge.
As the last eight or so months have proven, there’s no magic bullet for the problem of Coronavirus. Instead, the best approach we have found so far is a series of social regulations that change based on the proliferation of the virus.
This means that the guidance your business needs to be following evolves rapidly. If you’ve got a strong COVID protocol, then adapting to these changes is very possible, however, an added challenge is being able to communicate these measures effectively to your customers.
It’s one thing having protocols in place, but if you can’t get people to follow them, then they’re not going to be effective.
Digital signage gives you the ability to take control of your messaging, instantly giving people the updated information they need to stay safe. As soon as Coronavirus policies change, you update your protocols, and you can immediately convey the new guidance to your customers.
Control Flows of People
One of the key aspects of the social restrictions is “space.” Whether it’s 2m or 1m, we’ve had social distancing measures in place since early on in the pandemic and this has had a big impact on the way businesses in the tourism industry operate.
The thing is, you can put one way systems in place, and encourage social distancing, but if you’ve got a big crowd of people turning up all at once these protocols become impossible to enforce. This means that businesses and local authorities have to become very good at controlling flows of people.
One example of how you can do this is through digital signage at beaches. If one beach has become too busy, then digital signage throughout the local area can direct people to alternative beaches through Wayfinding.
People don’t want to be in crowds, but if they don’t have enough information at their disposal, then they sometimes end up in them anyway. By giving people the information they need, and guiding them to alternatives, you can control the flow of people and greatly increase safety.
If people are paying to stay at your hotel, or have made the effort to visit your attraction, then they want to have fair access to the resources that are available. People understand that there’s limited access to things like swimming pools, theme park rides, beaches, etc. but they want to feel like they have a fair opportunity to access those resources.
One of the ways you can achieve this is by allowing people to book important resources through digital signage.
This allows you to control the number of people using your facilities whilst at the same time giving people an easy way to access the attractions they’re there to enjoy. Digital signage is an excellent way of showcasing all of your attractions and allowing people to book in and make the most of them.
We’re always learning about COVID-19 and how to deal with it. Likewise, as businesses, we’re always looking for ways to improve our services during these challenging times.
To do this, you need to be asking the people that really matter about what you’re offering.
Digital signage gives you an easy way to ask the questions you need to ask whilst making it convenient for your customers to give you the answers you need. You might find your customers have some amazing insights that can help improve your COVID protocols and make the experience even better.
Not Just a Solution for COVID
Although COVID-19 is something businesses will be dealing with for the foreseeable future, there will be a time when this pandemic comes to an end. If you’re investing lots of money in your COVID protocols, then ideally you want to see some value from them even after things get back to “normal.”
Most businesses in tourism have lots of different revenue streams. For example, an adventure playground might also have a mini-golf course, a fishing lake, and a bar.
Rather than continually increasing revenue by attracting more people who visit one of your attractions, a better option can be cross-selling and making sure more customers visit multiple attractions. Once you’ve got a customer to one of your attractions, then you’ve got a great opportunity to encourage them to visit another one, but you need to have the right messaging to do this.
Digital signage puts the messaging in your hands, allowing you to show the right message to the right people. With the ability to showcase special offers, and guide people between your attractions, you can ensure you’re boosting the average spend and earning a return on your investment.
Work with the Local Community
Tourism isn’t always welcomed by local people, and this can be a cause of tension with some businesses. However, digital signage can help ensure tourism fits into the community and maximizes the positive aspects whilst limiting potentially negative aspects.
For example, it’s quite likely that not everyone in Somerset loves the fact that the Glastonbury Festival is held locally. However, the festival really pushes initiatives such as "leave no trace” which aim to limit the impact of the event on the local area.
Digital signage is perfect for pushing these important messages and making sure tourists are bringing benefits to local communities while limiting negative aspects.
Just because COVID’s gone won’t mean that emergencies don’t happen. In these moments, you need to be able to get quick, accurate messages to your customers and digital signage is the perfect way to do this.
With digital signs throughout your premises, you can allow people to raise an alarm, receive vital emergency messages, and help guide first aid and emergency teams to the right location. This can make a huge difference to your customers and help to create a safer environment.
Digital signage and Wayfinding can play an important part in helping tourism through this difficult time, but the benefits don’t end there. Kiosks have been designed to bring lasting benefits to businesses and are particularly effective in the tourism industry.
COVID-19 will eventually be a thing of the past, and when it is you want to continue to see a return on your investment. At Meridian, we’re here to help you get the most out of your technology, so we will work with you to ensure your digital signage fits your needs during the pandemic and continues to earn you a return on investment when it’s gone.