Traffic on a baby sister site to 16:9 – called MeetingRoomSigns.biz – has grown steadily since its launch in early 2016, as have the leads that come in from a form and then get kicked to site sponsors.
The sheer growth in the number of available meeting room sign solutions – more than 5X growth in two years – suggested a lot of companies had sense marketplace demand, and were hoping to meet it. But I decided to validate that by asking a couple of sponsoring companies if building into this area has been worthwhile.
“Between 2015 and 2016, we saw more or less an 800% increase in sales,” says Simon Carp, senior product manager for UK-based ONELAN, which makes a product called Reserva Room Signage. “What’s great is that this is made up of run-rate business and larger projects, across multiple sectors and geographic regions.”
Sean Matthews, CEO of Atlanta-based Visix, was in early with both LCD and epaper signs. “Our room sign sales are up over 50% from the same period last year,” says Matthews. “Our last three room sign deployments integrated 135, 80 and 72 signs respectively. No one market or geographic area is dominating sales or requests for information.
Growth makes sense because small displays and supporting software – unless the scale is vast – are not big ticket items, and they so obviously solve a massive problem across just about any work or educational space that has meeting rooms, and resulting conflicts over who booked them and when they’re available.
Carp says one of the big reasons for momentum is cross pollination, with people from one company visiting another, seeing digital room signs, and going back to their own offices advocating for the solution.
“We have also seen a pattern emerging,” says Carp, “in that we often first engage with a customer as they are undertaking a new building programme, and as part of this they’re evaluating what technology should be included in the new facilities. Room signage is becoming more of a standard feature for a commercial fit-out and is no longer the reserve of premium agencies, law firms and enterprise institutions. These organizations are then reviewing the effectiveness of what has been installed in the new premises for potential retro-fit into existing facilities.”
“My sense is some of the growth is just organic,” says Matthews, “in that the more systems that get out there, the higher the overall awareness.”
“Unemployment rates are very low, which places more people in office settings,” adds Matthews. “There is a lot of investment in conference rooms and collaboration spaces and facilities are looking to maximize their investment. Remote booking and walk-up reservations help improve utilization and event management systems help visualize that utilization. Electronic room signs just make sense.”
“A lot of it is organic but, as we all collectively contemplated years back, room scheduling and signage is moving closer to being a standard component in corporate/government systems, rather than a novelty or afterthought,” adds Jonathan Stroum, CEO of Pacific Interactive. “People responsible within organizations are more frequently exposed to these types of systems and they’re understanding their inherent value. We’re getting more frequent interest from people who’ve seen one of our installations.”
Stroum says his company is finding more business coming from IT people than AV systems people, who aren’t thinking and pitching small things like room signs. “We’ve found a better fit with IT integrators, especially because we’re network savvy and speak the language, easily navigate and accommodate security concerns.”
As is often the case in digital signage, corporate buyers are restricting vendors from saying what systems are being used in their buildings. But the companies quietly note some big buyers, like major multinational insurance companies. I know from paying attention that I’m increasingly seeing digital door/meeting room signs visible in images and videos shot in office settings.
These signs just makes sense for offices, as anyone who’s stuck their head in a meeting room and said in one way or the other, “Ummm … get out!” will attest.
The other thing they do, and Carp verifies this, is get a foot in the door for signage vendors to then sell them other kinds of solutions – like directories, real-time dashboards and video walls – to the client. When working with larger companies, getting in as an approved vendor is an important moment, and often the start of something bigger. Onboarding new vendors is a pain in the ass for customers, so if they have an approved vendor that does what’s needed, beautiful!
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.