The International Centre is one of Canada’s largest privately owned conference venue facilities. With over one million square feet of property, the facility hosts more than 450 events a year from popular consumer shows like The Boat Show and many private industry-specific conferences and meetings.
With well over 50 years of history, and home to the original Avro Arrow, the facility was looking to remain competitive while addressing areas of business operations that were in need of technology retrofits and tactical problem-solving.
After initial consultations, a number of opportunities existed that originally seemed to be challenges. The first involved the use of large, backlit paper posters. The International Centre sold advertising space to outside businesses targeting the internal traffic flow. However, as the advertising expanded, the use of paper-backlit posters became a nuisance. There was no more wall space to continue installing the large backlit in addition to restricting the potential advertising income from future partners.
A second problem existed within the facility that involved WayFinding. All too often visitors would line up at security confused and looking for the correct entrance for their events. Due to the massive size of the building, orientation was a legitimate problem for many years, and a solid mapping program was needed to alleviate the confusion and stress of visitors.
The facility had some existing Digital Signage, which they used outside 17 conference rooms as meeting boards. However, these meeting screens were often out of order and required special attention. In addition, they lacked any kind of integration with the actual facility master meeting calendar. Therefore all the meeting staff were forced to do double entry data for all events. This meant sitting in the back offices at computers as opposed to being out front with their customers.
Solution and Results
This project was undertaken in three phases as each was independent of the other and had different priorities in terms of complexity and need.
First, we addressed the most critical of the three issues. The conference centre screen’s existing signage was not working well. It was a waste of time for the staff and did not provide the level of service the customers came to know and expect from The International Centre. L Squared retrofitted the existing Digital Signage screens with an upgraded media player to eliminate the constant downtime, then upgraded the software platform to a cloud-based solution that integrated with the backend meeting scheduling system (EBMS) and put the system on the managed service for remote monitoring and support. This drastically reduced technical problems and eliminated double entry saving the event management staff valuable time and improved customer service dramatically by allowing customers to use Logos and accepting changes to meeting information at the last minute.
The next phase was to replace the existing backlit advertising screens with Digital Signage to expand the number of advertising opportunities through a rotational system. This was a simple rollout of a Digital Signage network based on L Squared cloud software. This was implemented quickly and allowed the International Centre to immediately start generating additional revenue. It increased the revenue potential by providing up to 20 advertisers on the same screen.
The last phase of the project was to implement large format Interactive WayFinding kiosks in the heavily used entrances. The interactive WayFinding system shows a 2D rendered map of the International Centre with all the key areas and outlets. The user can easily understand the map and navigate their way to any show or designated hall. To make using the kiosk even easier, the software was integrated with the meeting engine. Every day, the events taking place were also displayed on WayFinding, and users had the option of selecting either the event by name or location and an animated path was drawn on the kiosk map from that location to the selected destination. QR codes were also integrated for mobile compatibility and takeaways.
Overall, the projects were completed with excellence with little disruption to workflow and at a very cost-effective price point within budget. L Squared remains the technology advisor to facility operation and is completing the Food and Beverage digital menu project in the summer of 2014.
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