hotel image

How can I make sure my signage works?

10 tips to help keep your guests informed

Good signage is invisible

As you prepare to welcome visitors back into your business, it's important to plan how your guests will know how to behave and how their actions can help prevent the spread of infection.

Your signage will keep guests informed and can help your property run efficiently by gently aiding people as they move through your establishment. Good signage helps both guests and staff do the right things at the right time. If you get it right, it can almost seem as if it isn't there at all.

The following recommendations will be useful for most hospitality businesses.

1. Create a signage plan

Use a floorplan of your property to mark out where and how many signs you’ll need. Mark all the different types of sign you might use, including wall signs, banners, desk signs or floor markers.

2. Be clear and be friendly

There is a temptation to be too direct when writing a sign. Try to be friendly in your messaging. For example, ‘Keep 2-metres apart’ could be softened by saying ‘Welcome to [your property’s name] Please keep 2-metres apart’.

Consider whether the instruction could be misinterpreted; you could try to deliberately misunderstand it as a test of its effectiveness. If you are making the signs yourself, use a clear font (such as Helvetica or Garamond) and avoid ‘shouty’ capitalisation. Get the spelling and grammar right – run a spellcheck if you're not sure.

3. Don’t make your sign do too much

Your sign’s message doesn’t need to be long and shouldn’t carry more than two instructions (ideally, only one). Most people will hesitate to read lengthy messages, and many may not read them at all.

Remember, the aim of a sign is to encourage specific behaviours. By all means, remind them to wash their hands but further detail can be left to other communication methods.

4. Position is key

Think carefully about what you’re asking the reader to do. Stand in the space where the sign will be positioned. Is it in the right place (too low/too high or too far away or easily overlooked)?

Think about how someone moves through the space and what they may be doing as they enter. For example, a guest might not see a front entrance sign if they have only just arrived – it may be better to place this at reception. Similarly, too many signs in one area may be overloading the reader with too much information, so keep them to where they are really needed.

5. Use your brand

Using your logo on signage is a great way to be both friendly and authoritative in equal measure.

6. Be flexible

Be attentive to how people are behaving when they see your signs. Rewrite them if they are causing the wrong behaviour. Reposition them if are in the wrong place and then adjust your signage floorplan accordingly. Remember, as the hospitality industry adjusts to new measures, everyone is learning new ways to encourage specific behaviours in their establishments.

7. Think about other languages 

If you know that you regularly have guests from specific parts of the world, then prepare signs in dual languages or use well-known symbols to communicate.

8. Think about guests with disabilities

Consider how you will communicate with guests who cannot see your signage. For example, you should always make reasonable adjustments to help visually impaired visitors, such being prepared to read out specific signage. Are your signs positoned so they can be read by someone in a wheelchair?

9. Show appreciation

You can use signs to thank both your guests and your staff. Be careful here though – you don’t want to come across as condescending.

10. Does it need to be a sign at all?

For example, you don’t need a sign to tell guests what items they may no longer find in their room. This can be covered in a welcoming email you send before they arrive.

Find out more

Health and Safety Executive: for specific advice around safety signage.

Red17: This signage company recommends good fonts for signs

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