RAI Live! demonstrates why all venues should adopt digital media
800 screens, multiple-content channels and screenspecific way-finding make RAI Live! one of Europe’s largest and most dynamic single location digital screen networks
A large multipurpose venue such as Amsterdam RAI must facilitate multiple events at the same time and provide clear information for visitors and exhibitors to help them navigate through the facility. Having spent years using paper and posters to provide visitors information and absorbing the costs associated with that approach, Amsterdam RAI turned to digital signage provider QYN to develop an enhanced way-finding system for visitors.
Amsterdam RAI is the largest event and conference center in the Netherlands, providing 11 interconnected halls, 25 conference rooms and 87,000 square meters (more than 900,000 square feet) of exhibition space for public and commercial use. Each year, Amsterdam RAI hosts more than 500 events, 120 trade shows and caters to upwards of two million visitors.
In order to help organizers, exhibitors and visitors navigate through this vast and ever-changing venue, RAI engaged with QYN, a subsidiary of KPN and leader in the creation of digital signage solutions in the Netherlands.
RAI’s challenge was to provide a total-site digital proposition that reduced operational costs and environmental impact, provided operational enhancements and delivered additional visitor value.
QYN provided a turnkey solution for Amsterdam RAI, designing and developing the network that would ultimately be maintained by RAI’s own network operations center using Scala as the content player/manager to deliver animated way-finding and commercial content to 800 screens.
The outcome of this program was to deliver a unique digital network that used a variety of output devices (fixed screens, mobile screens and LED lighting) to deliver a meaningful visitor experience from entry, throughout the walkways and halls to departure.
“After extensive research and a pilot, RAI concluded that digital media would add value to their primary process of hosting events and exhibitions and would help them in being the most innovative compact venue of Europe. In close cooperation with RAI, QYN designed and developed a unique digital way-finding system. In 2007, QYN and Scala entered into a strategic contract for the use of Scala. This fact and the belief of both QYN and RAI in the quality of Scala made us decide to migrate the complete platform to Scala.”
- Aart Nap, Operations Director, QYN
Four key visitor “journey points” influenced both the physical deployment of screens and also the type of content appropriate:
- Entry points
- Halls and walkways
- Conference areas and meeting rooms
1. Entry points
Amsterdam RAI has eight separate entrances to ensure each event has a dedicated access point for visitors. It is at this point that key decisions are made and therefore provides an excellent opportunity for the network, know as RAI Live!, to influence those decisions.
A network of permanent screens attached to ceilings and walls and freestanding dual-sided mobile screens (“flexible icons”) provide full coverage of each entry point.
Because each screen provides specific information, wayfinding and commercial messaging relating to a specific event, the RAI Live! network requires a sophisticated multi-channel system. Sub-channels ensure that visitors attending a particular event are shown only relevant information.
This enables RAI Live! to provide visitors fully tailored content for each event.
This is possible because each screen is fully independent and has an individual identity. Therefore, they can be grouped by the RAI Live! operations team to work together in many different ways. For example, flexible icons can be relocated throughout the day to reflect different visitor usage patterns.
This flexibility in message delivery and screen location provides considerable opportunities for RAI Live! to develop commercial revenues from event organizers, exhibitors and brands using the venue to promote their products and services. Advertising messages can also be scheduled to play on specific screens in specific locations at specific times based on the agreement each commercial partner has with RAI Live!.
This content is created as part of a commercial package for event advertisers and sponsors by RAI Live!’s internal design team, which is then scheduled, managed and broadcast using Scala.
This content is created using pre-designed templates. If specified, other information can be added from thirdparty sources such as news feeds, event updates, local weather and flight times.
Content varies in both design style and duration depending on its purpose. Way-finding messages are permanent with very little animation to distract from the core message, while commercial messages use animation and short duration (under 10 seconds) to capture viewers’ attention. Two very different types of content balance each other, enabling the viewer to glance between both quickly, identify the message and move on without causing confusion.
2. Halls and walkways
Across 11 halls and 87,000 square meters, RAI Live! provides visitors with screen-specific way-finding to help navigate them to their destination or to prompt them to visit a particular meeting, conference, stand or brand.
Each way-finding template is unique to each static and permanent screen depending on its location in the venue. Given that there are many elements that may change according to the needs of the event organizers (such a directions to a particular seminar or conference room), these templates can be updated in real time from RAI Live’s! network operations center.
At least two screens are deployed per screen position at any given time. On the freestanding flexible icons, each side contains two screens, one screen for way-finding and one for commercial messaging. On walkways and thoroughfares ceiling-mounted units of two or three screens ensure at least one screen delivers commercial messaging.
3. Conference areas and meeting rooms
Operating 25 individual conference rooms spread across the RAI venue, the RAI Live! system is also used to display conference-specific agendas and messaging to individual screens adjacent to the conference itself, usually located on screens embedded into the wall next to the conference entrance.
Because these screens are scheduled to play content at specific times, they can deliver welcome messages before the conference, agenda items during the conference and thank you or next step messages post-conference.
These screens provide up-to-date notifications. Organizers provide these details to the RAI Live! team who use QYN and Scala systems to schedule and send the right content to the right screen at the right time. Commercial messages from event or conference sponsors can also be added to these screens.
Similar to entrances, exits use both permanent and flexible icon screens to deliver a different set of messages when visitors leave the venue. These screens thank the attendees for visiting Amsterdam RAI, feature information on upcoming events at the venue, provide helpful information on train and flight times from Schipol Airport for business people and can provide recommendations on what to do in Amsterdam for those staying in the city. This information is programmed to appear on the system using text and RSS feeds from third-party providers and appear and update automatically as frequently as required.
The screen network is controlled centrally at Amsterdam RAI by a team of five full-time staff who manage the technical, content and commercial aspects of RAI Live! in close partnership with QYN, who provide ongoing software and maintenance services to RAI and who, with Scala, assist in the continual development of the service.
“The RAI Live! network provides a great case for multi-use venues and other large venues including malls, stadiums and leisure complexes to consider how digital signage can provide multiple benefits to the landlord in terms of providing a higher level of content value to customers, reducing operational costs on traditional marketing methods and generating incremental revenue.”
- Ton van Hout, Strategic Account Manager, Scala EMEA
For the visitor and viewer:
1. The enhanced way-finding capabilities of the system mean that information is always accurate and up to date regardless of whether the venue or the elements within have changed to accommodate different events to help move visitors around the venue quickly and effectively, reducing the need for staff.
2. Visitors are treated to customized messages. At each point throughout their visit, screen media provide helpful, relevant content to ensure their experience with RAI and that of the organizers who use the facility are as good as they can be and creates qualitative value and goodwill, especially through the use of complementary content such as flight updates, news and weather information.
3. The quality, clarity and relevancy of messages presented by RAI Live! ensure visitors use these screens for navigation and information. In doing so their propensity to look at the screen often throughout the course of their visit to RAI is high, which in itself creates an excellent opportunity to deliver relevant commercial messages.
4. Visitors to RAI can clearly see that the adoption of technology provides not only tangible navigation and information benefits but that it can be a net contributor to a reduction in Amsterdam RAI’s carbon footprint.
For Amsterdam RAI:
RAI Live! initially provided an opportunity to replace a high-maintenance, high-cost, low-value paper-based solution. However RAI Live! quickly developed into a platform capable of delivering much more value to the business, namely:
1. Increased operational functionality: Site-wide message delivery for health, safety and emergency messaging with flexibility to provide screen-specific messages at any time at any location within the venue through the flexible icon mobile units.
2. Increased message relevancy: Tailoring information and event content to screens deployed for specific events and specific stages in the visitor’s journey through that event provides message relevancy.
3. Enhanced brand value: To provide Amsterdam RAI with a competitive advantage over other venues in Europe, the RAI Live! system underpins RAI’s contemporary and technically competent brand values.
4. 100 percent compliance: Any content that is legally required to be broadcast at certain times or in certain locations can be scheduled in advance and verified by RAI Live! using QYN and Scala systems.
5. Commercial development: Message relevancy and accuracy elicits a positive response from viewers and provides the opportunity to place commercial messaging side by side with way-finding information. It is this ability to effectively target viewers by interest, event and location that provides a valuable commercial currency for advertisers who wish to use RAI Live! RAI Live! is packaged as part of the overall event marketing proposition, which means it is as easy for organizations or exhibitors to purchase airtime or content as it is for them to purchase stand space or flyers.
6. Reduction in operational costs: Automated wayfinding capabilities adapt to changing requirements and cater to changes in the use of the site without screens requiring physical maintenance or movement. While the service provision for digital is higher than paper alone, the additional functionality and benefits derived from such a system plus the long-term commercial value generated through media sales ensures that the net commercial benefit (ROI) to RAI is significant.
7. Ongoing development opportunities: Amsterdam RAI can choose to add more advanced services and functions through its existing RAI Live! network at comparably reduced costs because the infrastructure is already in place. This may include Bluetooth® technology, additional screens, channels, and other technologies.
8. Carbon impact reduction (and promotion): Amsterdam RAI can use the digital network to support its green credentials to visitors and in doing so, also offer organizers and exhibitors the opportunity to use this system rather than paper to lower their event’s carbon impact.
RAI Live! is delivering considerable operational, commercial and viewer value, and in time it is likely that other technologies, features and screens will be added to the service to provide an enhanced offering to visitors and commercial partners.
“RAI’s business, like most leisure and multi-use businesses, is an ideal candidate for digital media by virtue of their need to provide up-to-date information and messaging quickly, effectively and at a low operational cost. We’ve worked closely with QYN to provide a solution that enables RAI’s 800-screen network to work seamlessly and efficiently which we all are justly proud of.”
- Oscar Elizaga, VP EMEA, Scala
QYN, narrowcasting by KPN is the Dutch market leader in digital signage. In 2006, QYN originated from a merger between three prominent digital signage suppliers and Dutch telecom operator Royal KPN. QYN currently offers its services in Benelux and Germany. Providing turnkey solutions for digital signage networks in retail, corporate and public environments, QYN is the one-stop-shopping partner for its customers. More information is available at www.qyn.nl.