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As the world and the hotel industry start to see the first green shoots of recovery from the COVID lockdowns, there is no shortage of new technologies emerging to try to address the new realities. As I sat down to write this week’s column, I found a list of more than 30 new or significantly modified products that had hit my radar I the past few weeks, all of them innovations somehow related to COVID.

The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need, and an intelligent response, to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and COVID-19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down. 

As millions across America practice social distancing, hotels and Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) are faced with the overall challenge of supporting their community and planning for the post-COVID-19 rebound. In addition to working directly with meeting planners, CVBs often report and forecast tourism for the entire community. CVBs play an integral role in the education and knowledge of upcoming events and trends in their community.

Shine is that light within you. It motivates us and it brightens our path. When we are down, afraid or experiencing unknown territory, it is what you say to yourself (your beliefs and thoughts) that determines if your light will stay bright or fade. 

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced last Wednesday during a press conference to industry media that the organization will consolidate its three major annual events to one location over a four-day period in October, and will call it, “The Best of HFTP.” 



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Digital Signage: If You Are Deciding to Invest There Is No Better Time than Now

11/25/2013
by Randy Dearborn
Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts
In the past, implementing a digital signage solution was either a financial (what are my current cost for graphic, print and installation), and/or a marketing decision (what opportunities am I missing by not having a dynamic digital infrastructure.) However, if you have not yet adapted and are still trying to determine if you should go digital, know that bus has already left the station. While you’d be late to the table, admittedly you have missed the growing pains of early adoption, including the initial high cost of investing in a system that didn’t fit your business needs or selling your soul to a vendor that is no longer around.
   If you have just come to the conclusion that you must finally jump into the digital display pool, the first thing you should ask yourself is what am I trying to achieve? (i.e. dynamic offers, social engagement, creating a mood/environment, cutting costs, etc.)
   Before you proceed, ensure that you have full support from all involved entities within the company, which without a doubt will be your biggest hurdle. Keep everyone focused on their specific involvement, or you will soon find that a food and beverage manager is making decisions on fonts and financial analyst is critiquing photography. In order to prevent this from happening, create a thorough roadmap, which will also encourage buy-in commitments because all team members will be able to visualize the process.
   Identify your strength and more importantly, your weaknesses. The following is intended as a helpful guideline for such an evaluation.
 
Content
Do you now create content internally or externally? Is your source versed in positive forms of media RGB and not locked into subtractive forms of media CMYK? Remember, the mindset for producing print and video are different. Serif fonts may work in print but do not translate well on screens. Develop the habit of planning your calendar in advance. This will not only help avoid last minute labor costs from layout specific campaigns for events, holidays, annual offers, but if created with enough forethought, graphic elements can be used over and over again, necessitating the change of only dates, times and offers.
 
Software
To ensure yourself a semi normal life away from work, you need to hold each of the team members responsible for their component of your ecosystem. To do that, determine who will approve, upload, meta tag, schedule and remove the content. If you’re in a 24/7 operation, also identify who will be responsible for each shift. Make sure that you have the necessary support in place to spot bad or expired content, or react when the system goes down on a busy weekend.  You can see why building an approval hierarchy is invaluable.
 
Hardware
If engineering doesn’t supply the power and IT hasn’t heated up the network, your black screens aren’t going to impress anyone. You may spec, purchase and install the hardware as our group does, but, if you have not coordinated with external groups in the planning stages to better understand the challenges required by the physical installation, you run the risk of forfeiting the best locations and sight lines, knowing how and where audio can be accommodated, what is required due to ADA guidelines, and so on. Because some external support groups require longer lead times, to accommodate multiple installations simultaneously, it’s helpful to shift jobs based on power and network delays.
 
   Although it might seem daunting if starting from scratch, know that there has never been a better time to get started. By leveraging the wealth of knowledge that now exists, particularly within organizations such Digital Signage Expo and the Digital Signage Federation, it is easier to identify what specific content, software and hardware will not only work best for what you’re trying to accomplish, but also fit well within your business model. Research and planning are keys to expediting your process and making it possible for you to leapfrog those who have done nothing to improve their systems since the day they were installed.
About The Author
Randy Dearborn
Vice President, Multimedia & Guest Technology
MGM Resorts International


Randy Dearborn is vice president, multimedia and guest technology, MGM Resorts International, a board member of the Digital Signage Federation and serves on the Digital Signage Expo 2014 Advisory Board. He will be presenting a roundtable discussion entitled, “How a GM or CIO of a Hotel can Benefit or Better Serve their Guests with Digital Signage Technology,” at Digital Signage Expo 2014 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, which runs February 12-13. For more information about DSE or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn about digital signage go to www.dse2014.com

 
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