The hospitality industry is one of the biggest and most diverse industries in the world today. Encompassing anything from hotels to restaurants, museums to historical sites, it can build on a variety of messaging points and emphases to attract tourists and drive revenue.
Non-profit or for-profit, large or small, it's also increasingly difficult for any of these attractions and businesses to stand out. You're likely not the only hotel on that beach, just as there are other museums in that city. Differentiation is a core requirement for any organization that wants to survive and thrive long-term.
That's a difficult proposition, but one that is far from impossible. In fact, in an age of rapidly expanding technological capabilities, new opportunities begin to appear almost every day. As it relates to the tourism industry, one is particularly relevant and intriguing: indoor mapping.
The idea of using maps to show your guests the way or promote your venue is nothing new. As they have moved into the digital space, however, the opportunities have expanded immensely. Let's take a quick look at the hospitality industry and the core need for maps before diving into the potential use cases of indoor mapping in hospitality.
The Power and Potential of the Hospitality Industry
Many consider the combined travel, hotel, and hospitality industry the biggest industry in the world. That makes sense once you break down the numbers: the United States Hotel Industry alone, for instance, raises more than $200 billion every year. This is an industry full of power players ready to flex their muscles.
Alongside that power is a customer base with increasing discretionary funds and an increasing desire for experiences over physical goods. Recognizing the potential for rising interest, organizations across the industry are putting money into attracting new guests. eMarketer, for instance, estimates that digital marketing spend in this industry alone will approach or even surpass $10 billion this year.
That's hospitality in a nutshell. On the one hand, you have an industry full of players looking to put themselves or keep themselves on the map. On the other, you have an audience ready to partake in experiences and just looking for the right venue to do so.
Why Indoor Maps Matter in Tourism
A powerful industry needs a powerful tool to satisfy the increasingly high expectations of the general population. Let's dig into two hypothetical, but all-to-real scenarios:
- I've just arrived at a museum. I've been here before, but heard about a cool new exhibit. How can I find my way there quickly, without standing in the way of other visitors?
- I am a guest at a beach hotel, and need to find the pool area to be with my family. I'm currently in the fitness studio. Can I get there without needing to go to my room for a map?
These scenarios illustrate why hotel guests (and tourists in general) now expect instant access to any information they deem relevant. Simply put, they don't have the patience for a paper map to find their way. Adding more marketing possibilities to a formerly pure wayfinding tool only increases opportunities.
Going Beyond Wayfinding to More Comprehensive Mapping Use Cases
Yes, indoor maps are great for wayfinding. It's the reason they've been used for that purpose as long as paper has existed. That doesn't mean the use of this tool is limited, especially in the digital realm.
As Hotel Business Magazine pointed out in a recent article, we expect to have a map in our hands — and that expectation can be leveraged by smart hospitality firms in a variety of ways. Wayfinding can be enhanced through more accurate, real-time information. Data can be gathered to improve operations and marketing. The use cases continue.
The key here is to not limit yourself by the core purpose of maps. Sure, they will never not be wayfinding tools. At the same time, and without much extra effort, they can become so much more. That thought alone deserves some digging into.
How Hospitality Firms and Tourist Attractions can Leverage Indoor Maps
The possibilities are there. Specific use cases, of course, are what's needed to make them a reality. It's easy to say that maps are taking on new and unprecedented importance in the tourism industry. Let's dive deeper into just how they are actually accomplishing that feat.
Building New Marketing Strategies
Indoor maps have long moved into the marketing realm. Hotels, museums, and any other type of organization within this industry can use them to showcase space, particularly through a variety of additional features:
- Virtual tours through the indoor space to showcase it.
- 360 degree videos and photos to make the experience more immersive.
- Location specific messaging to draw attention to revenue generators.
Each of these have become a core part of indoor maps. They allow you to push more immersive, visual, interactive spaces that draw your users towards the visit. We have come to value virtual experiences almost as much as the real deal. Your maps, therefore, can become the perfect platform to draw attention, spark audience interest, and entice the visit.
Part of that potential is realized through the integrations with other media most modern indoor maps now possess. They are mobile-friendly, accounting for the majority of internet users today. They can be optimized for search engines, and shared directly to your social media channels. In other words, your maps can become the hub for a wide variety of digital strategies designed to drive visitors to your attraction or hotel.
Live Data for Better Wayfinding and Marketing Potential
Live data feeds and integrations have become a core part of indoor mapping as we know it today. We're only beginning to realize the potential of what it might mean. Imagine, for instance, feeding in live data on how busy or warm the pool is before your guests enter. Weather info might be interesting on an app in an otherwise enclosed location. And of course, that's just the introductory stuff.
In his book Hospitality Marketing and Consumer Behavior, industry expert Vinnie Jauhari describes a case study of a hotel taking live data to new heights:
The hotel also uses real-time personalized location-based indoor map messaging to entice the guests with contextual offers based on guests' interests and current location in the hotel. Such applications also ensure that the guests can shop from anywhere and anytime within the hotel, change their itinerary or order room service.
Naturally, this type of application behavior can increase the amount guests spend at the hotel based on more targeted offers and calls to action. The benefits, though, are also more basic. Simply being able to route and re-route your guests through your space based on its current condition can be immensely valuable.
The same is true for other organizations within the space, as well. A museum, for instance, can leverage the live data to show foot traffic — that way, visitors can self-correct to make sure they optimize their time and experience.
Augmented Reality and VR Potential to Experience and Preview Your Space
The above use cases are still largely based on static maps with some interactive possibilities. It doesn't have to be restricted to that. The beauty of online maps is just how far technology has come to carry them through to maximize experiences.
Think about the potential of augmented reality. In a museum, someone viewing the app may see the creator of the piece of art or a survivor of that time period actually talk about it on their screen, with some of the scene re-invigorated and brought to life around them. It's a great opportunity for current visitors looking to build a better experience.
In the hotel industry, the potential of AR and VR lies closer to potential visitors. Here, the indoor maps can serve as perfect opportunities to preview the space and make decisions. Imagine having to choose between two similarly-priced hotels that are a similar distance to the beach. Who wouldn't choose the one that allows you to imagine and visualize exactly what your stay will be like?
We tend to associate AR and VR with virtual tours, simply because they're a vital part of those experiences. That doesn't mean indoor mapping doesn't matter. In fact, you need exact maps of the space to make either of these two opportunities even possible. The map, in that case, is the underlying technology and foundation that allows the space to come to life for your potential and current visitors.
Improving Operational Efficiency
All of the above possibilities point towards improving guest experiences and building revenue on the front end. Of course, you can also increase your profits by reducing costs, which in turn is accomplished through improving operational efficiencies. Would you be surprised to learn that indoor mapping can play a crucial role in that process?
It might be surprising, but it's absolutely true. Through indoor maps, you can improve the way your staff moves through the building. You can even integrate live data to analyze patterns and adjust accordingly. These organizational efficiencies tend to be incremental improvements, but can add up to significant savings in the long run.
If your organization runs on lean principles, you might be familiar with the principles of muda and muri: organizational waste due to over-complicated processes and overburdened employees. Reduction in these types of processes tends to lead to significant improvements once it takes on strategic importance. With the right strategy, that's exactly what indoor mapping can achieve.
Imagine a large hotel in which your maintenance staff has to go through every floor every day. That's a common problem. The right indoor map allows you to map out the most efficient schedule and layout possible. Your cleaning staff can more effectively manage their time, reducing issues for both themselves, management, and your customers.
Intelligent Data Analysis
Finally, the data-gathering potential of digital indoor maps is difficult to overstate. Hospitality Technology Magazine explains how hotels can leverage the data gathered through everyday map use by guests:
Hoteliers could discover that their guests prefer certain restaurants over others. Using this information, they can create an affiliate relationship with these restaurants that could result in small, incremental revenue. While this may not seem like a lot of money, this revenue alone could pay for the foundational mapping service.
There are several other possibilities here, as well. For instance, tourist attractions can build live feedback mechanisms that allow their guests to rate and leave comments on the attraction as they're experiencing it. Closer to the action, these guests will be more likely to accurately recount their experience and offer honest feedback.
This data, finally, can help any organization in the hospitality industry build more accurate audience profiles. Again, we're talking about an industry that prioritizes experiences, which means guests will use the maps in extremely interactive fashion. Every action they take is track-able, and attachable to their current location. As a result, your organization can learn when they need what, and better serve them in the future as a result.
Building Indoor Maps With a Comprehensive Wayfinding Solution
Of course, you can only accomplish these ambitious goals if you have the right solution in hand. You need a platform designed to help the hospitality industry, building not just static maps but truly interactive experiences. That includes live data, AR, VR, and analytics capabilities beyond the basics.
Concept3D has worked with a variety of industries on just these solutions for years. You can find our indoor maps in colleges, hospitals, and more. That experience magnifies onto the hospitality industry, tailor-made but just catching up to indoor mapping as a wayfinding, marketing, and managerial tool. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how they might enhance your tourist attraction or hotel, as well.