“Window cards are a tired format and not very 21st century,” says Keith Guppy, chairman at digital solutions provider, the Big Media Group.
Guppy is running a trial of interactive shop-front screens with eight travel agents to replace the more traditional late booking cards. “Agents are facing the biggest challenge they have ever faced – the Internet,” continues Guppy. “So they have to interact in a more technological fashion.”
The eight shop fronts display interactive screens showing information about late bookings, travel services and promotions. A five-minute loop of information plays over and over again.
“People spend between three and six minutes in front of windows,” says Guppy. “We timed how long people were standing there and designed the five minute loop on that.”
The idea is to attract people to the screens and then into the store. “We needed to change from the old window cards and posters,” says Tony Mann, manager at Bradford-based Idle Travel. “It gives us a more professional look, and it will hopefully convert to improved sales.”
Idle Travel is one of many stores in a shopping mall and Mann says the screen distinguishes them from other shops. “We are much more noticeable now. We can see people watching it and coming over,” he says.
The screens are mainly intended as a replacement for the late bookings cards and therefore concentrate on destinations and special offers. The software is designed so that local staff are able to choose and upload the content themselves and can scan in pictures using an intranet picture library site provided by the Big Media Group.
On top of that, the screens display other information that is uploaded by the Big Media Group. “We can show scheduled screenings for tourist boards and tour operators when they pay for a slot, just as they would pay for an advertisement to appear on television,” says Guppy. “There could also be other related products showing on the screen, such as insurance products.”
The plan is for agents to take the technology further in the future, offering features such as text to win competitions and flashing stars showing how many places are left on a particular deal.
According to Guppy, his company is the only one offering interactive screens to the travel industry at the moment, although he has come across a couple of agents that are doing it under their own steam. “An interactive screen is the way forward,” says Mann.
We took part in the trial for interactive shop front screens because we hoped it would attract more attention and interest from passers-by.
Our shop is at one end of the high street and people don’t always get to where we are, but having this interactive screen in place gives us much more visibility. Cards can look very tacky and this gives us more impact.
The screens have only been in place since mid-October, but we do see people stop and stare at them in the street. Sometimes they come inside and that’s great.
Although we’ve had a limited response so far, we’ve had some enquiries. Staff think it’s brilliant. We wouldn’t go back to window cards now.
Roy Wills, business development manager at independent travel agent, Rydale, in Knaresborough, near Harrogate
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