Friday , July 20 2018
Hotel signage

Signage: what’s the big deal?

Imagine an accommodation property without signage…How would it be identified from the road?

Once found, how would visitors know where to park or find their way around? Chaos would ensue! It would be confusing, annoying, stressful, not to mention potentially unsafe and without safety signs it could also be illegal.

As accommodation managers, you are constantly updating, renewing, and improving guest facilities but when was the last time that you cast an objective eye over the signage in your property? Does the signage at the front of your property do it justice? Does it stand out, locate and sell your accommodation?

What about the signage in and around your accommodation property? Take a walk through your property as though you are a visitor, does it make sense, is everything easily found, are you attracted to important areas of the property, are you informed, and are risks properly highlighted?

Most importantly, do your signs clearly highlight dangers and prevent incidents per mandatory health and safety legislation? Safety signage requirements should be considered a priority in any accommodation, business, or public area and if neglected you leave yourself wide open to litigation.

Remember that there are signs that law requires you to have – high risk and duty of care.


Top tips for great signage…

First impressions

A well designed sign, clearly visible at the front of your property is a great way to landmark your property and allow visitors to easily locate you. It can also promote your brand.

When visitors arrive, perhaps after a long journey, signage is their first point of contact with you and a well located, handsome sign will set up expectations for the quality of their guest experience.


Once a visitor enters your world, they must be able to easily orientate, as whether they are on business or vacation they do not want to think too hard. So assistance with a quick and easy mental map is essential.

Make your environment user-friendly, show your guests where to go, create some order, stop confusion, and promote relaxation. Directional signs can mark destinations, identify buildings, locations, and public facilities. A well located sign pole to orientate your guests may also work well.

Information share

Signs are a way to share essential information with your visitors. This might include rules and regulations or safety requirements, it may also inform them of risks.


Communication is an essential part of human experience: the need to connect, to understand and be understood. Therefore, the most important element of signage is not necessarily how it is designed but how the sign is received.

For instance, it may be important to you to have a list of do not rules. No running; No smoking, No jumping; No parties… But how are these signs perceived?

Do not signs may come across as petty, at a time when your guests most want to have fun and relax, these signs may be received as too directive, too bossy, or even bullying. You might feel strongly that these signs are simple and straight shooting but if your guests don’t speak English they may not comprehend the directives anyway.

There might be a more effective way to communicate simple, well designed signs that use diagrams, simple symbols and pictures that tend to be better received and cross language barriers.


Use signs to attract people to places, either within your direct environment such as the restaurant or within your locale, i.e, ‘this way to the beach’.


Promote your business and upcoming events, specials, gift incentives, your business or staff achievements and awards or the history of your property if relevant.

Show off your brand

Be creative with your signs; highlight your identity, compliment your décor and brand while also complying with health and safety legislation.


Yes, signage is essentially functional but it can also be fun, distinctive, and innovative.


Your signage should flow naturally from the front entrance throughout the property and compliment the environment. All the signage must make sense, harmonise and work together like a grid.

Don’t overdo it

It is important to have enough signs in and around your environment but don’t go crazy – having too many is off putting and unappealing, you must prioritise and be objective.

Lawful compliance

Make sure that your signs comply with the law, this is especially important around your pool and spa. Emergency exit signs, no smoking and fire safety signage should also be carefully enforced on every premise.

High risk

Help protect your visitors and staff from potentially dangerous situations or damage and protect yourself from prosecution and liability. In addition to pool and spa, these signs might include barbecue rules, maximum height bars in carparks and slippery when wet signs.

Duty of care:

Create signage that warns of potential dangers to prevent accidents/incidents. Warning signage may include property protection and operating hours.


Signs of the future?

Technology – will continue to dictate the future of signage. LED and programmable signage is becoming more talked about and may feature more in accommodation establishments.

Language – with more non-English-speaking visitors heading our way, language-use in signs will need to evolve and symbols or pictures that cross-over every language barrier will likely need to be used.

Emoticons and emojis – right now, you possibly consider their use unprofessional or a bad fit for your business, but everyone uses emojis and recognises what they mean online. This form of communication is not just a craze, emojis are how most people communicate on social media, in texts and even via email. It will be interesting to see if, and how, this way of communicating grows and develops.

Communication – the increased use of iPhones, iPads and handheld electronics may influence how future generations are alerted to signage. Could environmental signs eventually be superseded by NFC push notifications that emit safety alerts?

Litigation – you must risk assess and then risk assess again to keep yourself covered and your property safe.


About Mandy Clarke, Industry Reporter

Mandy Clarke, is an industry reporter for

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