Digital signage is more than just a shiny, electronic version of the standard foam core posters and easels outside your meeting rooms (though that’s a good start). Associations that are converting to digital displays are reaping the benefits of live updates, engaging video, interactive experiences, and new revenue opportunities at their meetings.

“The last year when we had printed signs, I think we had seven different meter boards outside each entrance of the expo hall talking about different things, which was obviously ridiculous. You can’t see anything with that many signs,” says Mark Bogdansky, vice president of exhibit operations at the National Retail Federation. Now NRF displays all the same information via a single digital sign that loops through multiple images.

People love to see themselves on the digital signs, so we do try to have as much social engagement as possible in as many locations as we can.

Evan Shubin, president and cofounder of Atlas Event Technologies, which provides NRF’s wayfinder kiosks, says they offer a step up over the paper map.

“An attendee can search on keywords or exhibitor name or session titles, and they can easily identify what they’re looking for. They not only get more information about it but get a very specific location and rough walking directions as to where that location is,” he says. Attendees can also search by product category and get directions to education session rooms.

What was once a novelty is now a popular tool, Bogdansky says. “We’ve found that over the years [attendees] get more and more comfortable using specific systems,” he says. “The first year that we did it we definitely didn’t get as much usage as we did the second year and so on.”
In the age of the selfie, social media integration is proving popular, too. Tweets, Instagram photos, and even competition leaderboards—for expo scavenger hunts or pedometer challenges, for instance—can all be streamed to digital signage. “People love to see themselves on the digital signs, so we do try to have as much social engagement as possible in as many locations as we can,” Bogdansky says.

Shubin says NRF’s wayfinder kiosks already track aggregate usage data, but badges with RFID
(radio-frequency identification) chips could let it track users on an individual level. “That data obviously can be valuable to the show and valuable to sponsors and exhibitors and give us a much stronger sense of exactly what people do and how they use the wayfinders,” he says.

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Evan Shubin, President and Co-Founder
Exhibitor Invites LLC and Atlas Event Technologies LLC
(301) 983-1200 direct ● (240) 426-5938 (cell)

A joint venture between Exhibitor Invites, Convention Strategy Group, and Scott Oser Associates.
Purchased all MarketArt software and products in October 2013.
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