If the last two years have taught us anything about modern business, it’s that the most successful organisations are ones that are best prepared to adapt to changing customer needs. For transportation hubs, including airports, train stations and bus depots, comprehensive digital signage networks have provided the means to quickly alter messaging and guidance for a variety of on-site priorities.
At the same time, DVLED (direct-view light-emitting diode) displays are becoming more cost-competitive with traditional LCD multi-panel video walls. As transportation hubs increasingly look to improve communications, efficiencies and customer experiences, robust digital signage networks that use the latest technologies and protocols to deliver timely messages in multiple languages are an extremely attractive replacement for static signage and even existing digital displays.
The modern customer experience
Wayfinding is one of the most important aspects of any transportation hub, and it can make or break the customers’ experience. The last thing any traveller wants is to be unsure where they need to go when they arrive. Whether they are trying to locate a security line, terminal, gate or concessions, the process should be stress-free and simple.
Digital messaging can be altered in real-time across an entire network of displays, enabling site operators to reduce or eliminate the need for staff to physically change static signage while providing customers with responsive information in a way that aligns with the many digital experiences present in modern daily life.
Intelligently located digital signage offers a multipurpose canvas to provide up-to-date information about wayfinding, departure and arrival times, gate changes, security wait times and reminders of health and TSA requirements. It extends to the exterior environment as well, with digital road signs helping direct customers and car services to the correct areas. At the same time, displays at entry points can remind customers of current rules and regulations before they enter.
The ability to run messaging in any language makes these displays even more valuable, as they can meet the needs of international travellers and provide a sense of equality among customers that have historically lacked representation. This is not only crucially important for wayfinding and security info, but also for status updates and even communications as simple as welcome messages that can improve brand reputation and encourage repeat business.
With DVLED technology, these benefits can be realised anywhere in virtually any shape or size, as evidenced by the growing number of airports using ultrawide, medium-resolution displays hung over walkways or security areas to highlight critical information.
Digital signage can also benefit internal operations and staff procedures by providing always-on guidance with the latest information. Baggage handlers, for instance, can benefit from bright, highly legible outdoor DVLED displays directing them to the proper baggage claim area. In the past, this would require static signage or a large LCD display that could be viewed from far away, but makers of modern DVLEDs offer a variety of pixel pitches and price points to address specific needs while increasing display lifespan to an estimated 10-15 years (compared with 5-7 years as the industry average for LCDs).
With DVLED, every display doesn’t have to be high-definition. For situations where operators need legibility at a distance, larger pixel pitches enable the use of larger displays with the potential to lower costs, simplify installation and maintenance, and reduce energy usage. That said, LCD displays with HD resolution still have a major role to play, as they are often ideal for up-close needs requiring sizes under 100 inches. This is most readily visible at baggage claims and destination/arrival boards, with many transportation hubs already utilising LCD technology.
The last thing any transportation hub needs is a property-wide digital display network that is difficult to use, maintain or update with new content.
Thankfully, the latest display and software products are enabling IT staff to control entire networks from a single interface where they can update content, check display status, cycle displays on and off and ensure consistent operation. Large DVLED displays, in particular, can simplify installation and maintenance compared to LCD video walls that require periodic calibration and updates to maintain colour and brightness consistency across multiple displays.
Intelligent design ensures satisfaction
Like any infrastructure upgrade, digital signage additions or replacements require thoughtful consideration and professional experience to maximise effectiveness, longevity and ease of use and maintenance. Outside consultants are equipped with the latest tools and practices to optimise the value of display investments and often have relationships with manufacturers that can provide additional insight and design support.
While not essential, locations that choose to use a single-supplier solution for entire digital signage networks can further simplify routine maintenance and daily use by eliminating cross-platform difficulties and empowering IT staff with software that is the same for every display. With more and more transit organisations using digital displays to generate revenue from advertisers, it’s valuable to have a combination of different-sized displays in various locations that can all be updated through the same software.
These concerns are just as relevant for small to mid-size airports and train stations as they are for major international hubs. Newer products such as all-in-one DVLED displays are ideal for these situations because they can be set up in less than a day. Some even offer mobile cart options to provide increased flexibility to deliver any kind of messaging wherever needed.
The future of travel
With infrastructure spending now at the heart of many national conversations, many expect transportation experiences to improve in the coming years. Businesses operating competitive transit locations are now considering cutting-edge technologies, including curved DVLED displays that can wrap around columns, DVLED floor panels that can be walked on, and DVLED displays built to custom size and shape specifications to make a visual statement. It’s not a stretch to imagine a proud US airport installing a large display in the shape of their state to welcome visitors with a friendly, eye-catching experience that promotes local culture and history.
As daily life continues to embrace the advantages of digital tools, transportation customers will expect greater integration and use of technology at transit hubs of all kinds. This movement toward digital displays has the capacity to eliminate negative interactions, reduce the need for person-to-person contacts and provide better service overall from arrival to departure. It’s exciting to see the industry leverage these new technologies and capabilities into new practices that improve the state of travel for everyone.
Dan Verbsky is senior key account manager at LG Business Solutions USA, a leading technology provider to the transportation industry.