AV Integration spoke to the Creative Studio team at Emperors Palace, who worked closely with local digital signage experts PVision to achieve the goal of transforming the company’s in-venue marketing into a simple, slick digital solution that saves both time and money.

Peermont’s Emperors Palace Hotel, Casino, Convention and Entertainment Resort has recently undertaken a modernisation programme that has resulted in the successful deployment of a comprehensive digital signage solution at its flagship resort, soon to be extended across the company’s impressive portfolio of properties in sub-Saharan Africa.

Digital signage at the Emporium at Emperors Palace, Gauteng

Conveniently situated alongside O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Emperors Palace brings together timeless classical elegance and entertainment. No expense or detail has been spared in the pursuit of pleasure and opulence at the resort, which is evident in the sweeping facades, tasteful designs and up-market atmosphere that permeates every corner of the establishment.

Emperors Palace offers guests luxurious accommodation in four unique hotels, a health and beauty spa, a state-of-the-art casino with multiple gaming spaces, as well as the finest in dining options and entertainment choices, including an ultra-modern cinema complex and world-class conference facilities.

Leading gaming and hospitality group, Peermont successfully operates 12 properties across South Africa and Botswana.  The company is renowned for its excellence in design, development, management, ownership and operation of multi-faceted hospitality, conferencing and gaming facilities and is committed to maintaining international standards and offering guests world-class experiences.

EMBRACING CHANGE

Installation of large-format LED screen at Emperors Palace, Gauteng

In 2017 Emperors Palace embarked on a new strategy to improve the resort’s communication channels.
“Two years ago we were relying heavily on printed content, including mounted posters and pop-up banners to engage with guests and promote events, products and campaigns on offer,” explains Sharon de Leur, Emperors Palace marketing manager. “Static signage has several shortcomings. Firstly, to service a property of this size, we appointed a team whose sole responsibility was to dismount and remount posters and banners. This was a very labour-intensive and arduous process. The second factor to consider is the cost of printing. While we can do a lot of our printing internally, it is still prohibitively expensive – and despite carrying the cost of a high-level printing facility, we were still dependant on outside contractors for more specialised printing jobs. Lastly, and most importantly, it was vital for us to improve our greening footprint.”

This made the shift to a digital signage model for their in-venue marketing campaigns an easy decision and Clive Tavener, the resort’s Operations Executive was quickly on board. “When the idea was first proposed, we installed a single large-format screen in the Entertainment Emporium. We immediately saw the value in digital signage, most significant being the rapid return on investment – not only revenue-wise but also in terms of enhancing the guest experience,” Tavener comments.

“One of the biggest motivating factors for the upgrade to digital signage at Emperors Palace was the cost comparison between our annual print spend versus the once-off cost of a screen – which we were able to pay off within a year.”
 – Clive Tavener, Emperors Palace Operations Executive


THE RIGHT TEAM

Large-format LED screen at Emperors Palace

Drawing on years of experience in the field, Scott MacLellan, Creative Studio Manager at Emperors Palace, boasts a solid understanding of both the benefits and risks of digital signage solutions and was a driving force behind the change. “While digital signage has the potential to engage guests, generate additional advertising revenue and save on costs, when done badly it can look very amateurish, or fail to work completely, defeating the whole object of the investment,” he points out.

With this in mind, MacLellan and his team undertook an extensive tendering process to ensure that he contracted an installer that would be able to provide a professional, robust, well-supported and cost-effective solution. “We wanted to be sure that the company we contracted to undertake the installation would be able to pull off a professional installation despite the challenges presented by the environment. Taking into consideration the delicate nature of the décor and the limited hours during which an installation team could work on-site due to the 24/7 nature of the resort. Finally, we needed to be sure that the contractor in question would be able to provide the after-sales support needed to ensure that maintenance and technical glitches would be carried out swiftly and effectively. The wealth of experience and expertise that Pvision brought – as well as their comprehensive and highly flexible product offering played a large role in our decision to award them the contract – and we have not been disappointed,” MacLellan mentions.

PICTURE PERFECT

The heart of the digital signage installation, achieved by PVision, is located in the Entertainment Emporium at Emperors Palace. The area features a replica Statue of David, surrounded by an array of restaurants. An inspiring domed ceiling encapsulates the space, which has been hand-painted to provide the impression of an expansive Mediterranean summer sky, which provides a light and airy ambience for diners. Several walkways lead off to the casino floor, retail outlets and cinema complex.

The Entertainment Emporium provides a perfect space for an effective digital signage deployment, as many guests enjoy dining among well-placed screens that offer an engaging montage of content while being highly visible to foot traffic at the same time. “In the past, the area was filled with hanging and pop-up banners, which contrasted the polished, luxurious look and feel of the resort,” MacLellan points out. Three large-format double-sided LED screens were suspended from the arched ceilings of the three main passageways leading off the Entertainment Emporium, taking maximum advantage of the architecture to ensure maximum visibility to diners and those passing through. 

The primary challenge, however, was that the area proved a very delicate site, which demanded a very subtle and highly experienced hand. Stefan Swanepoel of PVision explains, “To start off with, the hand-painted ceiling is 12m from the ground, and the steal i-beams in the roof above are a further three to four meters above the ceiling. We had to construct a solid structure in the ceiling to hold the dual LED in place with steel ropes that were thin enough to ensure that we only made the smallest holes in the hand-painted ceiling. This was handled with absolute care by Paul Bouwling and his team.”

“One of our biggest considerations was to ensure that we on-boarded a service provider that would be able to install the screens in the Emporium without damaging the hand-painted mural on the domed ceiling,”
Scott MacLellan Head of DTP Studio – Emperors Palace

Swanepoel and the consultants at PVision specified an LED screen for the installation “The Entertainment Emporium is a big, open space with lots of light. We, therefore, had to come up with a large-format screen that was light enough to be hung from the 12m high ceiling and bright enough to compete with the ambient light levels in the space. The double-sided LED screen was the most fit-for-purpose solution that we could come up with at an affordable price.”

In addition to the ceiling-mounted displays, PVision installed several 49” standing LCD Signage Displays, which are arrayed in circumference around the central water feature at the Emporium. Specially designed for advertisement, the units’ portrait standing design, high-quality tempered glass and commercial-grade LG IPS panel make them a perfect fit for this environment – especially as the screen is designed for long-term 24/7 operation. The standing LCDs have been mounted in stands that have been custom-designed by PVision to compliment the surrounding décor. “The restaurant owners are very pleased with the installation of the standing panels in front of their establishments, as it provides a very sleek and engaging platform for them to advertise their brands and communicate specials on offer to guests,” states MacLellan.

“It immediately became clear that much of the static signage that we were spending so much money on faded into ‘wallpaper’ for our guests, while the video content on the screens added a level of interaction and engagement not easily achieved with more traditional models of advertising.”
– Scott MacLellan Head of DTP Studio – Emperors Palace

PULLING IT TOGETHER

Paul Bouwling and his team installing the large-format LED screen at Emperors Palace

As PVision director, Jacques Landsberg points out, “A screen without a content management solution is like a big black canvas with all the potential in the world but essentially blank.”

Understanding the importance of providing the right hardware to enable a well-managed digital signage solution, PVision installed the BrightSign operating system on all of the screens deployed at Emperors Palace.

MacLellan explains that the Peermont group relies on two content management systems to oversee all of the displays throughout its chain of hotels and casinos. “We have two content scheduling systems that work in tandem at present,” says MacLellan. “We use a cloud-based solution called Infinity on all of the standard displays in our hotels, at till points and on the gaming floor. Stefan [Swanepoel] provided BrightSign to manage the content that we run on our in-venue marketing screens, and I have found the solution to be very efficient and user-friendly.”

MacLellan goes on to explain that much of their content is developed in-house by an in-house digital design team, while larger campaigns are outsourced to specialised agencies. Once the content has been developed and approved, it can be scheduled to run on screens throughout the complex at strategic times and can be updated almost instantly. Also, the content can be scheduled to display on screens at other properties operated by Peermont. “At present, I can schedule content at Khoroni Hotel and Casino and Thaba Moshate Casino and Convention Centre in Limpopo and the Frontier Inn and Casino in Bethlehem,” MacLellan says.

 “The benefit of developing and scheduling content centrally for all of our properties is that we can achieve brand consistency across our various establishments. We are also able to support our smaller venues by scheduling content on their displays for them – negating the need to have a marketing specialist at each site. As such, Peermont is planning to expand its digital signage campaign to most of its properties in the years ahead,” MacLellan concludes.