Wayfinding 104: Beyond Navigation

Wayfinding 104: Beyond Navigation

In our earlier articles in this wayfinding series, we focused on navigating in your community and creating a sense of place in traditional ways. At its core, wayfinding is about user experiences. Technology has become so portable. It’s time to consider how destination marketers can bring more usable information to their guests where they are, and when they need it. Here are a few things to consider doing to assist visitors outside of the visitor center.

Utilize Interactive Kiosks as Pop-Up Virtual Visitor Centers

Delivering rich and ever-changing content on maps makes an investment in interactive kiosks one possible option for creating seamless visitor experiences. Touch screen technology can not only deliver directions to a theater or concert venue, but also deliver showtimes, upcoming events and make it easy to book tickets. Kiosk users can sync their smartphones to the kiosk with a mobile app to save and share the information THEY want. With the growing popularity of pop-up shops, food truck events and local festivals, promoting these sought-after tourist magnets, on the fly and with directions, is marketing gold.

Place your kiosk in heavily visited areas, or partner with hospitality stakeholders. Your kiosk can act as a virtual concierge and extend your help to visitors outside of the welcome center.

Voice technology is here. Explore the many ways you can use it.

Forbes’ writer Steve Olenski reports, “…brands need to make sure they provide instrumental value through voice technology consumer touchpoints. For example, pairing voice with visual platforms, such as smart displays, will help elevate usage.”

Imagine a voice-enabled kiosk that could respond to a question a French speaking visitor asks in their native tongue. Hospitality delivered via artificial intelligence could be mainstream in the near future. Then, interactive technology would help to remove communication barriers with language selection features and ADA compliant design. All of this is increasingly important as wayfinding, by nature, is successful when it helps all visitors feel more at home. It stands to reason that well-managed visitor experiences lead to a better trip, and hopefully return visits.

Conversational interfaces, like Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are part of everyday life for many people — especially millennials. How can the travel industry harness this technology to not only create a more graceful query and response at kiosks, but to shape and inform the trip planning process?

The hotel industry has begun its foray into the adoption of voice technology services. According to this Skift article and Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality program, voice technology in hotel rooms is a helpful assistant for hotel staff, is always available and can ease the process of assisting guests with their needs outside the hotel.

As voice-based Internet of Things continues to become more widespread, developers are writing Alexa Skills and comparable data-driven Human Interface devices for a variety of industries. At its simplest, interacting with Siri and Alexa is comparable to using the power of web search engines. You, as marketer of your destination and curator of the visitor experience, are to understand what tourists are looking for and make sure the data is in place to provide appropriate answers to visitor questions. Work with your stakeholders to educate them on the importance of keeping their online presence up to date. Their accurate data is key to your collective success.

Chatbots are being built with the traveler in mind.

Chatbots can provide visitors with one-stop answers on demand. From functions such as reservation management, customer care, travel planning, and expense management, developers are building technology with very specific abilities that can be aligned with visitors’ needs. Your understanding of what people staying in your community want to do and how best to get them there is important, and your standing as a trusted source of information can be enhanced through the use of a good chatbot. For example, a bot for Uber, Marsbot from Foursquare, and Assist allow travelers to experience cities through local reviews and recommendations. These chatbots take their content from nearby locations and provide options as if a traveler was a resident. There are many options for use of chatbots on your web site — Facebook Messenger, SMS, and Slack are just a few avenues to consider. It can be a notification platform or a comfortable way to share someone’s location. As with all your methods of communication, chatbot conversation and tone should support your brand. Even artificial intelligence should seem human.

Employ Geo Fencing Technology to Assist Your Wayfinding Efforts

Geofencing is defined as “a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area.” A geo-fence can be dynamically generated, as in a radius around a store or point location, or it can be a predefined set of boundaries, like district or neighborhood boundaries. One example of geo-fencing involves a location-aware device of a location-based service (LBS) user, like a mobile phone, entering or exiting a virtual line, perimeter or fence.. This activity triggers communications options designed to be delivered to that user, as well as important data back to the geo-fence operator.

One of the most widely known uses for geofencing comes in the form of popular social networking apps. Location-based filters, stickers and other shareable content are all made possible with geofencing. SnapChat — and recently released SnapMap — have capitalized on the desire to share activities based on location. Many communities and neighborhoods have designed filters that mark user photos with their promoted event. There’s an Around Me tab in Stories where geofencing enables users to see stories posted in the area fenced. There’s also Geo Story, where Snapchatters can add to stories within Geofenced areas. Stakeholders in areas frequently hosting younger visitors should consider strategically utilizing this tool.

Sponsored interaction has been moderate, but user-generated imagery and stories can build positive buzz for your destination. And much like light pole banners, geofilters can bring brand recognition to your area.

As the lead marketer for your community, geofencing points of interest, districts and event venues could be a strategy for engaging groups at conventions and meetings, as well as leisure travelers in market. Geo-located communication is great for cross-promoting nearby activities or delivering information about an upcoming event in that venue.

The beauty of technology-assisted wayfinding is, that in addition to directing visitors to desired locations, it has the ability to reveal all your community has to offer on the journey, on-demand.

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