The core of hospitality is to provide exceptional guest experiences. That journey begins well before your front door so to start off right, effective exterior wayfinding is a must.
WHAT IS WAYFINDING?
Wayfinding is a system of signs used to help visitors navigate a property. The signs are designed to provide important information while conforming to the property’s unique style. There are 3 main types of wayfinding signs – identification, directional and informational. You can learn more about them here.
HOW IS EXTERIOR WAYFINDING DIFFERENT?
The only difference between exterior and interior wayfinding signs is that exterior ones are located outside. This can affect the overall design, size, and materials used. Exterior wayfinding is mostly used for large properties like resorts and campuses.
WHY IS EXTERIOR WAYFINDING IMPORTANT?
Let’s think about your guest’s point of view. Their journey starts with actually locating your property followed immediately by trying to figure out where to go and where to park. From there, signs are needed to guide them to check-in, find their rooms, and other amenities like restaurants, for example. Most likely you also have separate buildings and features on the grounds that your guests will need to be able to find. As you can see, things can quickly get complicated depending on how large your property is. That’s why there are 2 very important aspects to a successful wayfinding program – planning and designing.
Planning may seem easy and straightforward. There’s a building over there. Let’s just slap a sign on it and go on our merry way. Next! Yes, you must identify the building, and, yes, it needs a sign. The truth in the matter is that you need to make sure people can see it now and ten years down the line. You have to consider angles and what the area is going to look like in the future. Countless times, signs are put up while trees and bushes are small. A few years down the road, those same trees and bushes have matured and blocked all visibility so guests cannot find you.
When it comes to directing guests, there’s a lot to factor in. First, how are guests seeing it? Are they in a car or on foot? Is it easy to read and understand? What direction are the guests coming from? Can they read it from that angle? Are the words large enough to read from a distance? Do the words fit on the sign or are they squished? Where are we even pointing our guests? Should we run electricity to the sign so it can be seen at night?
The list goes on and on. That’s why this is such a crucial aspect of the process.
As mentioned earlier, not only should your signs be functional, but they should also follow the aesthetic and narrative of your property. It’s important that they stay consistent with the overall style while providing vital information. It’s a balance of function and beauty. This can be accomplished using the correct material, color, construction, and design.
In addition, it should be designed in a way that can be made! Architectural design agencies are great at creating beautiful signs on paper. However, when it comes to being built, oftentimes the design needs to be redesigned to be constructed. This happens more often than you’d think.
Another factor is material. Whatever material you choose must be able to withstand the elements. This includes rain, UV, snow, wind, temperature changes, and, of course, time. Will that metal rust? Do you want it to rust? Will it stain or fall apart? Each material weathers differently and you need to know which suits your needs.
Whether you are starting a new exterior wayfinding program or refreshing an existing one, make sure to carefully plan it out and that it fits your property’s style. Better yet, give us a call or email us so we can help you through your own wayfinding journey.