Blair Hotels Cody: Streamlining Events

Many hotels want to show events for their guests and visitors, and may cobble together a solution that seems to work well enough, only to find that the system’s limitations put undue strain on their staff and don’t give the public what they really want. This was the situation at one high-end resort hotel in Cody, Wyoming.

The Holiday Inn Cody, part of the Buffalo Bill Village Resort, is the largest of Blair’s three properties that serve the northwest of the state. It’s used as a home base by travelers visiting Yellowstone National Park, the Shoshone National Forest and the Grand Tetons, as well as local attractions like the Plains Indian Museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Whitney Gallery of Western Art and the Draper Museum of Natural History. Family-oriented attractions and events, like rodeos and tours, round out a comprehensive tourism offering. The hotel’s facilities are also used for meetings of all kinds, from the local snowmobile club to local business operators and the Chamber of Commerce. This range of experiences means a varied and everchanging clientele taking advantage of “the best rest out West”.

The hotel wanted to share upcoming events with guests, so they placed a large digital sign above the brochure rack and ATM, where people could easily see it. They had been using a custom webpage that showed messages in a browser on a smart TV, but this solution was not very user friendly and had limited capabilities. Staff had to manually input information by editing script through a web UI using information they had already entered on an Excel spreadsheet, doubling the work. There was no scheduling capability, so all changes had to be made as they occurred, which was a huge time burden on employees.

Having no control over the design of event listings on screen meant a lack of consistency, and longer events automatically reduced the font size and even sometimes changed font colors. The UI was locked into a default six-day display, Monday through Saturday, and the current day would not shift to the left for easy viewing. This meant that they couldn’t show events happening on Sundays, and if on a Friday guests wanted to know what was happening on Monday, they’d have to ask hotel staff, who then had to look it up elsewhere.

Adding more pain to the process, each day the smart TV browser required a reboot, which then meant the display had to be reformatted in order to properly display event schedules. The whole system only showed events, with no other audience attractors like date, time or weather feeds.

In short, a less-then-ideal situation. But it did enable them to display events in the area and on site (like tours, presentations and club meetings), and seemed fairly affordable at first. But once they factored in the work hours spent each week modifying their listings and supplying upcoming information for the following week, it soon became clear they needed a more streamlined solution.

Blair Hotels' Holiday Inn Cody uses Visix digital signage software to show event listings, weather and more
Custom screen layout with digital events listing for Blair Hotels' Holiday Inn Codi from Visix digital signage

They found the answer in AxisTV Signage Suite software running on an all-in-one media player from Visix. Now they simply enter their event information once into an Excel spreadsheet, save it, and the event listing is updated automatically on the lobby display. The software’s easy data integration options also means that staff are no longer stuck inputting events on Sundays but can schedule events whenever they like.

The on-screen schedule automatically shifts to the left as events drop off, so only current and upcoming events are listed. Visitors can see the schedule for the current day and the following six days at a glance. AM and PM events are clearly delineated with a colored line, which makes planning even easier. And, of course, Sunday’s events can now be displayed.

The screen layout was created for the client by Visix, and is branded with the Blair Hotels logo, colors and fonts. In addition to event listings, the screen now shows date, time and the day’s weather, as well as forecasts for the following three days – crucial information for people planning outdoor activities.

Another benefit of the new system is that it didn’t increase costs. They already had the screen and infrastructure, and the software subscription includes the cost of the media player, future software and hardware updates, and priority support. This means they’ve streamlined both processes and payments.

With their digital signage solution from Visix, Holiday Inn Cody at Buffalo Bill Village offers a better visitor experience for their clientele while freeing up their staff to provide more personalized, one-on-one service for those that feel the call of the trail.