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How to… make the most of digital signage

24 January 2014
How to… make the most of digital signage

Randy Dearborn of MGM Resorts says instant guest communication works on every level

It's no secret that in today's hospitality landscape, digital signage technology is one of the most effective and eye-catching communications mediums on the market.

Encompassing everything from tablets and in-room displays to Twitter screens, way-finding systems, digital menu boards and more, digital signage technology may be the best way to communicate with guests and completely revolutionise your bottom line.

Having spent upwards of 20 years at MGM Resorts, I've had the luxury of seeing first-hand the possibilities that digital signage can offer. With 42,000 hotel rooms and 50,000 digital screens under my remit, I've seen time and time again how simple digital signs and displays can drive revenue, increase sales and enhance the guest experience.

Take the dynamic Twitter wall above the concierge desk at our flagship property, the 5,000-room MGM Grand. Its original purpose was to distract people while they were waiting to check in. But as soon as we put it up, the hits were incredible. People were posting pictures, asking questions, and we also use it to do polls or promote what's going on in the hotel.

Some of our in-house nightclubs and bars have started to catch on and are using it for instant promotions like two for one drink offers. And the analytical data we get back from it is truly amazing.

Randy Dearborn is vice-president multimedia and guest technology, MGM Resorts. He is the keynote speaker at Hospitality Technology Europe 2014

FOUR WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF DIGITAL SIGNAGE TECHNOLOGY

HAVE A CONTENT PLAN
When it comes to digital signage, content is king. Quite often the biggest challenge when making the initial investment is how to populate the device with good content and keep it coming. Digital signage works best when there is fresh content to push out, but big organisations inherently have multiple levels of approval that can slow things up.
If you can templatise your content and get it signed off by the higher-ups beforehand, then that's half the battle.

For instance, at MGM, all our Starbucks have multiple digital displays and, depending on how warm or cold it is outside, the screens will automatically either show an image of a piping hot latte or an ice-cool frappuccino.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND WHAT THEIR NEEDS ARE
With most displays it's very easy to drive your public depending on a number of different factors, so hoteliers should strive to use this to their advantage as much as possible. For instance, at MGM, one of our night-time acts is Cirque du Soleil. When the show ends, we immediately switch all of our displays to profile nightclubs and drink specials in our bars, because we know our guests are looking for those types of suggestions.

Similarly, with our dynamic way-finding systems, at certain times of the day we direct people to breakfast or lunch buffets.

LEVERAGE OTHER ASSETS AND TEAMS WITHIN YOUR PROPERTY People happy with the status quo are the biggest barrier to the successful deployment of digital signage technology, so it's extremely important to sell the project internally and get people on-side from the get-go. At MGM we even keep track of what's happening within the property from a renovations standpoint, as if there are physical or structural changes on the cards, that is the perfect opportunity for us to make the case for baking technology into the design, be it a screen, device or user-controlled console.

GO PAPERLESS There are upwards of 350 restaurants in the MGM portfolio and if I could eliminate every last paper menu I'd be a happy man.
With digital menus on devices like tablets you have the freedom to adjust your prices at the drop of a hat without having to worry about reprinting a single menu. You can also easily see what's selling and what's not, and then adjust accordingly.

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