Digital Wayfinding

Digital Wayfinding: Dynamically Changing the Airport Industry

Anyone on a time crunch when traveling can relate to that feeling of panic that sets in when you realize you don’t know where you are going. With little time to waste, especially in airports, there is nothing more frustrating than getting lost in a sea of people and luggage.

Once relying on static signs, customer service booths, or following the crowd, customers now have the opportunity to navigate through airports like never before. Airports are renovating with more modern designs, higher ceilings, and most importantly, with digital signage.

Static to Digital Signage

While static signage may always be part of the airport landscape when it comes to wayfinding, digital signage offers opportunities that static simply cannot. Printed maps and static signage can be helpful in times of power outages or electronic failures, however content can easily become outdated or not offer enough detailed information to help travelers find their way.

Even if no other digital signage is present, almost every airport has some form of digital signage through its Flight Information Display System (FIDS). This system shares flight information for passengers to offer real-time updates on arrivals and departures, and is typically displayed on TV screens or computer system controlled mechanical boards.

Beyond FIDS, digital signage is often strategically placed throughout airports to help passengers navigate as well as encourage on-site purchasing decisions by displaying nearby stores and restaurants.

There are variations in the interactive nature of digital signage throughout airports, as well. For instance, dynamic digital signage can offer passengers general directions or identify major points of destination. With digital signage, airports are able to readily change information, but most often do not provide personalized routes that would be most helpful. Some airports, however, employ interactive displays, which can provide step-by-step instructions from the passenger’s starting point to their destination and in some cases access the information on a smartphone to take that information with them. The extent of the wayfinding is typically determined by the complexity of the airport’s landscape.

Overall, both interactive and non-interactive digital signage is designed to improve the passenger experience by providing up-to-date and accurate information.

Enhance the Passenger Experience

During heavy travel periods, there are an increased number of people in airports, contributing to more opportunities for passengers to get lost and frustrated. Non-frequent fliers, like those visiting family or the college spring-breakers, are not going to be as familiar with an airport layout as frequent business travelers and will have a more difficult time finding their way.

Interactive digital signage can help alleviate some of this struggle by providing route options. For example, to accommodate the more than 45 million passengers annually, San Francisco International Airport installed interactive touchscreens to provide passengers with search options to find the best route to their desired destination. As part of a way-finding search, passengers are able to include various categories like airline locations, dining, shopping, ground transportation, and things to do. Passengers are provided different options, along with the time it takes to navigate each suggested route.

Another benefit to airports using digital displays is the opportunity to change display information in real-time. For instance, if there is construction blocking traffic in one corridor of the airport, directions can be displayed to help reroute passengers. Further, digital signage can help facilitate passengers during emergencies – one of the most important features of digital signage. Whether it’s a fire, or a serious evacuation situation, airport security can utilize digital signage to direct passengers on what to do, where to go, and where to find the nearest exit.

Better for Business

Digital signage for wayfinding is not only of help to passengers, but it is also a benefit for the airport’s business, as well as the businesses within the facility. Airport employees are no longer a primary resource for providing directions; passengers can turn to interactive displays for accurate mapping – allowing for employees to maximize their time by focusing on their assigned responsibilities. Wayfinding tools can also relieve onsite security officers from providing directions, ensuring their primary focus remains on keeping everyone safe.

Onsite businesses also benefit highly from digital signage for wayfinding. The displays can direct customers to stores and restaurants within the airport, share product and promotional information, and provide coupons. Interactive displays offer a wide range of opportunity for businesses – making table wait times at restaurants, menu options, reservations, and much more readily available. Digital signage also reduces any costs needed to update, print, or replace static signage.

Evolution of the Industry

Digital signage is transforming the airport experience in part by alleviating the usual overwhelming stress of navigating such immense spaces. From static to dynamic to interactive – wayfinding within the airport industry is continually changing. As passengers’ needs change and evolve, so do wayfinding solutions.


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