Leading the Way

Oct. 5, 2001
Interactive Media changes how we find our way

Interactive kiosks are useful in almost every industry - commercial real estate is no different. While information kiosks were once limited to museums and automated tellers, they now offer a wide range of possibilities for every sector of the commercial real estate industry, including office buildings, hotels/resorts, educational facilities, hospitals/healthcare facilities, and government buildings.

Once extremely limited in capacity and usefulness, the scope of these information kiosks is expanding rapidly to provide interactive information and services to consumers. The Internet and online services are reaching the private sector through DSL and handheld computers, and interactive kiosks. Technology-savvy consumers are demanding access to information that is more detailed and complex than static signage, opening the door for property owners to step into the next wave: interactive digital systems.

Interactive digital systems are unique, touch-screen information kiosks placed within your facility, strategically located in the highest-traffic locations. These systems can be set up using a variety of equipment - from 12-inch monitors to 50-inch plasma screens - with a touch screen overlay. Some of these directories also come equipped with sound systems that can provide an assortment of enhancements.

Each kiosk enables users to search for specific information, such as company name, maps, local merchant information, weather, traffic or stock reports, directions, and more. Systems are customized to accommodate the particular needs of the facility and its customers. Perhaps a customer would like to search by floor or industry type? No problem! Do you want to offer "Space for Lease" information with details on the many benefits of your facility? How about customized floor maps and directions to specific areas within the facility? All these things are possible with an interactive digital system.

Hotel and resort systems, for example, can be set up to offer everything from room descriptions and reservations to picking up text messages and ordering room service. You may have as many or as few services as you feel your property needs.

Most digital directory companies use Internet web browsers to host the information that will appear in your directory. However, while that type of system works, if and when the browser goes down your system becomes disabled. One company uses a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as a secure way to manage a directory system, which is independent of any web browser. Most updates on any of these systems can be made in-house, and are almost instantaneous.

The costs of these systems can vary widely, depending on the types of equipment and features you choose. One company offers a way to offset some of the expense by allowing you to display television-quality commercials - rather than static ads or graphics - which run in conjunction with your directory services.

Interactive digital systems have almost limitless possibilities for enhancing your customers' experiences while visiting your facility. They can quickly provide up-to-date information in a simple, very user-friendly way that allows a customer to select anything from search criteria to the format of the results. These directories require only a small effort to maintain, and offer an unprecedented advantage over conventional, static signage.

Jill Henry is director of marketing for Dallas-based NuTouch Media Inc. (www.nutouch.com), a digital directory company serving the commercial real estate industry.

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