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9th February 2015

Is good quality Information Bay Signage important for destination marketing?

How important is Information Bay Signage to the overall mix in a locality or regional destination marketing strategy? Is it crucial to the visitors decision making or is it something that may influence a few passing motorists who have decided to come to your destination anyway. There is very little research on the importance of good tourism signage so there few hard facts but a lot of common sense assumptions.

In relation to information bay signage there are a number of factors that it is assumed influence the visitor or potential visitor. These are:

  • location
  • quality and accuracy of information
  • quality of the structure
  • layout and design

It is essential that information bay signs are located at or ideally just before decision making points, which are usually road junctions. This might seem obvious but there are many examples of these signs being located off a main road and up a road leading to a destination. The people stopping here have already made their decision to visit your destination so you have missed potential visitors.

Having the information bay on the main road is even more essential when there is a long drive from the main road to your destination such as the turn-off for Shark Bay at the Overlander Roadhouse and the turn-off for Kalbarri at the North West Coastal Highway.

It is also important that both approaches to the junction are covered unless you have the research to suggest that all tourist traffic approaches from one particular direction.

There should also be ample space for a number of cars and caravans to pull in at any one time. Approximately 500 metres before the information bay should be a sign indicating that the driver is approaching the information bay and giving them enough time to slow down and stop.

Who’s responsible for the upkeep and accuracy of the the information?

Quality & Accuracy

I don’t know how many information bay signs I have looked at and known that the information was out of date. This is particularly true where there is no designated organisation responsible for maintaining the sign and updating the content.

Many information bay signs have been paid for by offering local businesses the opportunity to advertise on the sign. This approach is only works if the organisation that comissioned the sign and sold advertising space (say the local Rotary or Lions Club as a fundraiser) remains committed and active in maintaining and updating the contents of the sign. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen as priorities change.

Another issue is that the design of the sign must allow business to be removed if necessary. There are many examples of local businesses appearing on these signs long after they have gone out of business. Most signs contain a map of the local town highlighting main tourist attractions, accommodation etc. While the street layout may remain unchanged some of the other information can quickly become dated.

The responsibility for management and upkeep of the sign is an important but often neglected aspect of information bay signs. Quality and accuracy should be the responsibility of the Local Government who should allocate sufficient funds in their annual budget to cover the costs.

It is also important that the local destination website is quoted on any signage and possibly a QR code. Research has shown that increasingly visitors are booking accommodation and tours using their mobile devices, having a web address on the sign will lead them to explore online.

Quality of the structure

You don’t have to drive very far in Western Australia to come across an information bay sign that is badly maintained and if anything will detract from the destination that it relates to. With every destination vying for the tourism dollar, every area should think about the impression a poor quality and poorly maintained sign gives.

Ask yourself – how many potential visitors have stopped at an information bay and taken one look at the sign and decided that its poor quality must be a reflection of the quality of the destination and just driven off?

Layout and design

What worked in terms of design 10 years ago will not be appropriate today. It may be that the destination has developed a new brand since the information bay was erected but that is not reflected on the sign. As previously mentioned the layout should include reference to websites that could entice the visitor. The incorporation of QR tags is a great way for potential visitors to quickly find your website and see what your region/community has to offer.

If your visitor information bay incorporates paid advertising (see Kununurra information bay below) make sure that all advertising conforms to a set of guidelines that are supplied as part of the package. These guidelines should include overall size of the sign (they should all be a standard size), the duration of the contract, the understanding that any information will be updated each year and that signage will be replaced if damaged or faded. Suggest to advertisers the correct grade of vinyl and UV laminate they should use to get the maximum life out their advertising. Nothing detracts more than a poorly thoughout advertising policy.

If you would like advice on developing an information bay policy, design of wayfinding signage or a comprehensive signage audit of your town or shire contact Wayfound today. In addition to our signage strategy and design expertise, we bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of tourism and economic development to every project.