How to Choose the Best Library Door Counter

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  2. 2018

Library door counter - people counting at the library

Libraries are essential resources in many communities. They serve as gathering spaces, a place to take classes and learn new skills, and a refuge for students who need a quiet place to study and pursue school projects. Libraries often operate on tight budgets, however, and must find the most efficient ways to deliver the best service for patrons. That’s where people counting technology comes in — and one tech asset that can make a significant impact is a library door counter.

A library door counter tallies each patron who comes through your library doors to help you understand traffic patterns, justify funding requests, and adjust staffing needs accordingly. These counters are designed in various ways, so take a good look at your library’s architecture to determine which door counter is right for you.

Why Do Libraries Need People Counters?

Libraries make books, resources, technology, and information available to everyone, including people who might not otherwise be able to afford access. But they are perpetually in need of funding to supplement the meager revenue they generate. College libraries, for example, receive less than 3% of the money spent on higher education, despite studies that link student achievement with having use of a well-staffed and well-funded library.

Funding requests are most successful when backed by hard facts that clearly demonstrate the need. Circulation information, such as the number of books checked out in a given period, does not provide an accurate or complete picture of library usage. Many people visit the library for other reasons, such as using the computers to do research, or bringing kids in for story time in the children’s section. Counting the number of patrons is a better measure than counting books checked out.

Benefits of People Counters

Library door counters offer several benefits. First, they can help libraries make better business decisions. Budget cuts are an all-too-frequent occurrence, and they can reduce funding not only for materials but also for staffing and hours of operation. People counters provide data on which entrances and areas of the library get the heaviest use, and which times and days are the busiest. Knowing which areas experience the most traffic is helpful in deciding how to arrange resources such as exhibits, kiosks, or guest speakers. And seeing which resources are used most frequently can assist in deciding which lesser-used resources can be pruned when it’s time to tighten the belt.

Second, people counters can help libraries stay in compliance with state standards that govern such factors as labor percentages and technology usage. Library door counters provide the best detailed statistics to report so that state governments and taxpayers know how the money they provide is being spent.

Third, library door counters can help libraries make cases to administration to gain more funding. Across the country, public libraries have been enduring reductions in their operating revenue, even though circulation, program attendance, and computer use have all been on the rise. When they need to make a strong case for funding to continue providing those resources, libraries can use the data from their people counters as evidence of the demand.

Armed with traffic statistics, libraries can make appeals for additional resources and technology, such as an expanded computer lab with faster, high-capacity broadband Internet access to best meet patrons’ needs. Libraries can also petition for additional staffing and hours of operation by providing the numbers of patrons using the facility on a daily basis. The ability to clearly demonstrate necessity is the key to a successful funding proposal — and that’s what a people counter can do.

Horizontal vs. Overhead Counters

The type of doorway will influence the kind of people counter that best fits your needs. For narrow entrances, a door-mounted horizontal door counter will suffice. The horizontal door counter is the simplest of all people-counting systems. It functions by tallying every person who interrupts the infrared sensor beam by walking through the doorway. Generally speaking, only one person at a time can enter through a narrow, standard-size doorway, making the horizontal library door counter a suitable choice.

For larger entrances where multiple people can come and go at once, however, a horizontal door counter would provide an inaccurate traffic count, as two people entering and interrupting the sensor beam simultaneously would likely only be counted as one. For these wider doorways, a library door counter that’s mounted overhead would be a better option.

Overhead library door counters can use either thermal sensors — to pick up each entrant’s body heat — or video recording to count people entering the library. When deciding between the two types of overhead counters, it’s important to remember that video recording carries with it some surveillance and privacy concerns, as some of your patrons may feel entitled to have their privacy preserved.

Where to Put Your People Counters

Depending on the size of your library, you may benefit from having people counters distributed throughout your facility. For example, you might want to install people counters in the children’s reading section, the audio book area, or other spaces that experience high traffic. This will help you to determine when the highest volume of patrons visit these areas and schedule your library staff as needed.

You’ll also need to decide which type of people counter is best suited for each individual area. While your main entrance may only need a horizontal door counter, you might find overhead thermal sensors give you the best results in the children area or computer lab.

By evaluating the data provided by your library door counters, you’ll be able to understand which areas of your library need more or fewer staff members to manage and monitor patrons as well as the best placement for promotional book displays and other important materials.

How Software Can Help

Your library door counter is only as useful as the software that compiles and makes sense of all the data it collects. This user-friendly software gives you access — virtually in real time — to your traffic data via any internet-connected computer or mobile device. Use your software platform to generate reports that offer critical insights about your library traffic that can influence and inform your decision-making.

Door counters are becoming an important feature of the modern library facility. In choosing the library door counter that’s right for your institution, you’re poised to make objective, data-driven decisions on how best to serve your patrons and create the space your community needs. Contact a Traf-Sys representative today to learn how you can add people counting capabilities to your library.

How to Use Your Gift Shop as a Tool to Drive Foot Traffic

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  2. 2018

Gift shops. You may consider them as a way to gain a little extra revenue from guests who come to “ooh” and “aah” at the fascinating exhibits in your museum, check books out of your library or to purchase university branded items from you student store but if you think like a retailer when it comes to what you stock and how you display it, you may just notice your gift shop becoming one of your most popular sources of extra revenue. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Swag

Have you considered that your gift shop could be a shopping destination on its own? You may not think that people are visiting your museum, college or library just to see the gift shop, but if you offer unique gift options that visitors find valuable, they may just make you’re their go to spot the next time they need to buy a great present for someone. Most people who visit you are already fans, so use that to your advantage and offer artistic décor and functional products that fit with your themes. For example, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC offers unique bookshelves inspired by art exhibits, and the Metropolitan Museum carries book ends modeled after the divine guardians of the Assyrian palace at Nimrud. Offering functional décor not only drives foot traffic, but it allows visitors to create their own artistic displays within their homes.

Flow

The popular and mysterious graffiti artist known as “Banksy” released a documentary titled “Exit through the Gift Shop” in 2010. While his documentary focused on the inauthenticity of one man’s street art, the title came from a common practice within museums and theme parks. It’s not hard to see why this practice is so common. Control the flow of foot traffic within your space and make the gift shop the natural final destination of your visitors. If you place your shop at the end of your tour, circulation desk or museum experience, you encourage additional purchases because the souvenirs and products you offer reinforce their visitor experience in their minds, making them likely to remember you for their next shopping trip.

Local Artists and Vendors

What better way to drive foot traffic and promote talent than to showcase and sell the work of local artists, craftsmen and small businesses in your gift shop? Featuring products locally made and sourced is a great way to invest in your own community. Many small vendors are happy to have their products featured in your gift shop as a way to showcase their products, especially small online merchants who may not have a brick and mortar presence.

eCommerce

In season 2 of the hit show “Stranger Things,” one of the characters dons a purple hoodie from the Science Museum of Minnesota, complete with a brontosaurus skeleton on the front and the words “Thunder Lizard.” Fans of the show were eager to get their hands on the shirt, and the science museum saw an increase in foot traffic because of it, but many weren’t able to make it all the way to Minnesota. Luckily, they had an eCommerce site (which subsequently crashed from all the online traffic after the episode aired). By showcasing your best-selling souvenirs online, out-of-town fans will be able to purchase them. Not only that, but you can do cross promotions on your online store with specials you are running in your physical gift shop to drive traffic to your location.

People Counters

Measuring foot traffic gives you valuable data so you can determine how many of your visitors make it to the gift shop. This provides valuable insight when making data driven business decisions. Putting people counting solutions in the entrance and in different areas around your gift shop can tell you what the natural flow of foot traffic is within your gift shop, and where your most popular displays are. Use this data to create new display areas, order inventory, and re-vamp your current souvenirs. If the data reveals that you aren’t getting as much traffic in your gift shop as you would like, you can determine what needs to be changed and measure the progress.

You are probably fantastic at creating memorable experiences for your visitors that keep them coming back, but if your gift shop isn’t putting its best foot forward, your visitors may be left with nothing to show for their trip. By thinking like a retailer and using your gift shop as a tool to drive foot traffic, you can give your visitors a way to commemorate their visit and bring in new visitors with who may have never made the trip otherwise.

If you are looking to increase your foot traffic to your museum, library or university and are ready to start gaining valuable data to aid you in your business decisions, contact us today to discuss the ways we can help.

Clicks and Bricks: 3 Reasons Omnichannel is Important in the Retail World

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  2. 2018

We’ve all read the headlines. Millennials are killing industries left and right. Currently on the chopping block: brick-and-mortar stores. Regardless of whether you believe the hype or you feel like these stories are just sensational pieces made to move papers, it is worth considering what current shopping behaviors are relevant now. Online is becoming more and more popular, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the death of brick-and-mortar stores. Smart retailers are using an omnichannel approach to their stores, and are able to leverage their online sites to gain foot traffic at their physical locations.

What is omnichannel? In short, it boils down to meeting your customers where they are, both online and offline. Utilizing an approach like this means that you have to know who your customers are and where they are doing their shopping before you can successfully gain visibility. But why is this important? Let’s get into the main points.

  1. It makes it easy to please.

Shoppers want convenience. In a world of instant gratification and in-your-face ads from every store, if you aren’t as available and efficient as your competition, you are likely to be left out. According to bigcommerce.com, almost 100% of Americans have shopped online before, and 80% have done so just in the last month. It’s no secret that an online channel is important, especially with millennials and Gen-Xers. However, in-store shoppers account for about half of all purchases, and are still popular with older generations and those who don’t want to wait for shipping, so an omnichannel approach is the best way to reach your audience using their preferred shopping methods.

  1. It drives in-store traffic.

As great as it is, online shopping isn’t always the preferable way to get products for some shoppers.  Some consumers don’t want to pay shipping costs or risk having a package stolen or a missed delivery if they don’t have a secure drop-off location.  And having to wait for standard ground shipping can cause a customer to abandon their online cart before checkout. With omnichannel retail, buy-online/pickup-in-store (BOPIS) is a favorable option many shoppers prefer. Customers can purchase an item online and pick it up at their convenience, often times with the speed of expedited shipping sans costs.  This drives foot traffic to your store, which you can then measure with your people-counting solution. By combining the convenience of online shopping with the security and affordability of shopping in-store, you create a win/win situation in the eyes of the customer.

  1. Data, data, and more data.

When it comes to making business decisions, never go in blindly. Instead, you should always rely on hard numbers to inform you and fuel those decisions, so you can be sure that you’re doing what’s best for your business. Combining omnichannel data from online shopping, social interactions, and in-store purchase histories gives you a holistic, large-scale view of shoppers, so that you know what to stock for inventory, and how to create the best targeted marketing campaigns. Utilizing this data alongside data from your people counting solutions can provide you with all of the information you need to make successful, knowledgeable decisions that better your business.

Omnichannel is becoming omnipresent. Position yourself for success by making sure you offer all the shopping channels your customers demand. Then, contact us to discuss your people counting solution options and see how our technology can compliment your omnichannel solution.

How Counting Students Can Help Overcome Challenges Faced by Universities

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  2. 2018

Once hailed as “the great equalizer,” higher education is now under more scrutiny than ever. Promoting the value of a college degree remains the most difficult university challenge faced by higher education establishments. It’s no surprise, when rising tuition costs and fewer high-paying job opportunities are a growing concern.

Every area of the budget must be tightened up to combat the increased cost and reduced funding. Universities know that accurate data is crucial to overcoming budgeting challenges, and student and visitor traffic trends are no exception.  There are three key challenges that can be met by utilizing this data harnessed by a people counting technology solution.

  1. Managing Operating Costs.

It’s always a struggle when you’re asked to do more with less. If you aren’t looking at foot traffic patterns, you may be missing a critical area where you could be saving. Facility management can be expensive, and you may be spending money keeping facilities open during hours they aren’t likely to be used. If your budget has been slashed and gutted in every area possible, yet you’re still being asked to further reduce expenses, you’re not alone. Many schools are facing this same university challenge. People counting data can help pin point areas of waste, so that the staff and equipment needed for a student union, library, or recreational center can fit into to allotted budget.

  1. Finding Funding.

Non-profit universities especially rely on funding and donations to stay afloat, but without presenting comprehensive data in grant proposals and funding requests, how can you successfully secure the funds you need?  Providing the facts and figures is a crucial step to justifying any request for funding.  If you want to expand and grow programs and facilities on campus, you must first show how these are currently being utilized. Finding funding for projects like these can be a tough university challenge to overcome, but hard data is difficult to ignore.

  1. Showing Value.

With arts, clubs, and athletics on the chopping block, it is vital that proof be given for which programs are valuable to students. People counting sensors gauge the success of events and programs to determine the popularity of each, so that decision makers understand the tastes and interests of their students. If proving your school’s worth both as a learning and a cultural center has become a major university challenge for you, foot traffic data can be used as hard evidence to support your claim.

A Path to Success

Running a university and ensuring its success will never be easy. As an administrator, you have to work extra hard under immense pressure to make sure your students are learning and thriving, and that the university itself continues to secure the funding it needs while remaining affordable enough for prospective new students. With an ever-diminishing budget and a surge in tuition rates it is increasingly difficult to make changes that don’t negatively impact the quality of the education and experiences you offer. Campus foot traffic data will play a large part in helping you meet your university’s challenges head-on.

If you are ready to start counting people that traffic your college or university to aid your budgeting and funding requests, contact us today to discuss the unique challenges faced by higher education and how we can help.

3 Signs it’s Time to Upgrade the Way You Measure Foot Traffic

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  2. 2018

Imagine a busy Saturday at your store, library or museum. You’ve known for a while that these afternoons always have the most foot traffic, and you’ve done what you think is necessary to prepare for the surplus. It started off as a great day with customers and patrons flowing in and out, but then an hour into your most hectic afternoon of the week, you begin to notice that your staff or volunteers are really struggling to keep up with demands, and people are getting upset at increased wait times. You remember this happening before, but you learned your lesson, and took steps to prevent it from happening again by comparing the numbers week to week and making sure you had the staff. What happened?

The problem lies in the numbers themselves. Most likely, your past counts were off, resulting in inadequate staffing. If foot traffic isn’t recorded accurately, you can only guess how many employees you’ll actually need on any given day. Everyone who runs a business effectively knows they need to accurately measure foot traffic. The benefits to this practice are numerous:

Think you might need to upgrade your current people counting methods? Here’s how you can know for sure:

  1. You are doing manual counts.

We feel your pain if you still use this outdated people counting method and have to rely on pen and paper to count people. If you’re currently in this situation, do yourself a favor and switch to an automated system to measure foot traffic. You and all of your staff have much better, more profitable ways you could be spending your time. Not only that, it’s really difficult for humans to get an accurate measure when a place is busy. Nowadays, you can even find thermal sensors that can use body heat to track customer movements around your store, so you don’t just know how many people are coming in, but which sections they’re more likely to go to.

  1. You are using horizontal cross beam sensors.

Cross beams aren’t as tired as manual counts, but they’re still less accurate and less efficient than overhead sensors. If people often arrive in groups, horizontal sensors are more likely to give you false foot traffic recordings. While they may be okay in small doorways that don’t leave room for more than one person to enter at a time, you might be better off switching to a thermal or video sensor that can give you spot-on counts no matter the size of the group coming in.

  1. Your current solution cannot distinguish between adults and children.

This is a big one if you operate a library, museum, casino, or any business where you would benefit from distinguishing between adults, children, — even service animals. Horizontal sensors and thermal sensors by themselves are unable to analyze the type of foot traffic entering your place of business; they can only measure the overall volume, and sometimes not very accurately at that. If you need to know more than a head count, a combination of a thermal and video sensor will be your best bet at categorizing patronage.

Keep your bases covered.

If your palms got sweaty just from imagining the stress of the scenario at the beginning of this post, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, this pops up all too often, making customers wonder why the owners aren’t staffing their business the way they should. Worse yet, customers generally aren’t very understanding when it happens. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you in the future is to have an accurate, efficient way to measure your foot traffic with a modern people counting solution, so you can stay ahead of the game.

5 Components of a Memorable Museum Visitor Experience

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  2. 2018

First-time visitors to your museum will leave with new knowledge and stunning visual memories that will inspire them to learn and create. Challenge: create museum visitor experiences that will also inspire them to return.  A visit to your museum should leave a lasting impression that may also spark conversations with friends and family or on social media, which can help direct even more people to your door.

So how do you turn your museum into a must-see attraction with regular visitors? Here are five ideas you can use to orchestrate museum visitor experiences that help you achieve that goal and how you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts with people counting technology.

Make your space welcoming

You need more than an entrance point and “Welcome” sign. From the moment your guests cross the threshold of your museum, they should be engaged and have a clear idea of what you have to offer. Some ways to achieve this are:

  • Have well-trained and friendly docents available to greet your visitors and provide information and enhance the museum visitor experience.
  • Provide clear signage or video monitors that display the highlights of what you have to offer. Strategically place easy-to-read floor plans and suggested starting points to give visitors the choice of how they want their experience to unfold.
  • Become a center for discussion by providing floor space or meeting rooms to promote educational topics, community diversity support, or quiet meditative environments.
  • Vary museums hours to make it accessible to a wider variety of people. Many potential visitors may work during the day, so providing an evening opportunity can open the way for more foot traffic at your facility.

Make your space interactive

A museum visitor experience can be greatly enhanced through modern interactive technology. Motion sensor and touchscreen interactivity have been around for some time and are still effective display tools. Imagine, however, an interactive display that can respond to questions in your native language or a robot that responds to your commands or queries. How about visitors being able to immerse themselves into a prehistoric setting using a VR headset? Combining older technology with advanced artificial intelligence tools and virtual reality can take museum visitor experiences to a whole new level and elevate your museum to can’t-miss-destination status.

Engage visitors through social media

Let’s face it, younger audiences, especially millennials and Gen Z, use social media as a form of communication. Use it to your advantage:

  • Use social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram to attract young visitors to your facility’s offerings.
  • Video segments that show your feature attractions or a Facebook Live tour hosted by a curator can be engaging and encourage all types of audiences to visit.
  • Visitors love to take selfies when vacationing, so why not create spaces in your museum to encourage this activity? Provide them with hashtags for this purpose and watch your museum attractions reach an even larger audience.

Take advantage of digital technology

Nearly all your visitors carry smartphones or tablets with them wherever they go. The museum visitor experience can be even more fun and engaging if you provide free downloadable apps that they can use to find more information on exhibits while touring your facility. Site maps, exhibit information, and digital galleries can also help compliment their journey and make it a more memorable visit.

On the operations side, invest in technology to count the people coming into your space so you have an accurate view of visitor numbers. You can even take that a step further by choosing a technology like ceiling mounted video-based sensors. This type of people counting technology gives you the ability to differentiate between and adults and children, taking your visitor statistics to a new, more in-depth level.

Control the flow of traffic

Whether your museum has a directional, one-way route or multiple ways for visitors to wander, it is vital to have proper signage that can help them navigate. Controlling the flow of foot traffic helps prevent congestion, which can detract from the museum visitor experience.

Using people counters at strategic entry and exit points can help pinpoint areas prone to traffic jams. This data gives you an opportunity to make improvements in crowd flow and can help determine the success of new exhibits.

Crafting memorable and enjoyable visitor experience is very important to your museum’s reputation and future success. Initiating these five strategies can help you build an environment that invites people to return. Your facility will become more valued by the community—and benefactors—once the word spreads about all the great experiences you have to offer.

If you’ve decided it’s time to start counting the adults and children who visit your museum each day with people counting technology like a video-based overhead sensor, contact Traf-Sys for a quote.

How to Boost Mall Traffic with a Consumer-Centered Retail Strategy

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  2. 2018

Across America the traditional mall experience is morphing. Major U.S. mall owner’s like Simon Property Group, Westfield America, and GGP, faced with flagging mall traffic and unused space, are thinking outside of the box to attract shoppers and non-traditional tenants. The attempt to reinvigorate and revive the mall is resulting in a shopping, eating and entertainment mall model for the modern retail era.

5 Ways to Boost Mall Traffic

If you are looking for ways to boost your mall traffic and get shoppers through your doors, here are five creative ideas that can give your mall foot traffic a renewed boost.

Turn your mall into an entertainment hub

You need an incentive to attract customers into your mall and to spend time there. Consumers want more than a place to eat and shop—they want experiences. To increase mall traffic, dedicate spaces and hold events that offer forms of entertainment. Turn customer apathy into excitement with a variety of venues that entice them to visit your mall and stay longer.

Hold community events

Your current, unused mall space has the advantage of being large enough to serve as an event venue. This opens up opportunities to invite community groups and non-profit organizations to hold events year round and increase foot traffic.

Wi-Fi hot spots

Create a Wi-Fi café or multiple hot spots that promote a quiet haven for the growing work-from-home workforce or constantly connected mall visitor. You could offer snacks and drink choices that can be purchased while they check their email or reply to messages.

Rent space to unconventional tenants

Mall traffic can be increased dramatically by offering empty spaces to non-traditional types of tenants that offer entertainment options rather than retail shopping. How about a laser tag, indoor skate park or trampoline venue for the kids? Fitness centers, consignment shops, and specialty shops can also increase foot traffic.

Mixed-use malls

If entertainment options don’t necessarily work for your property, you may want to consider a mixed-use scenario to increase mall traffic. Many mall complexes around the country have adapted their empty areas to incorporate hotels or apartments, offices or play space. Target the people using those facilities by making them aware of the convenience of shopping nearby.

Measure traffic

Having a people counting solution in place before initiating these traffic-boosting strategies is important to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. Strategically place people counters in entrance points, parking garages, and entrances to specific venues spaces to track where your visitors are going. Over time, the data collected will help give you an idea of successful mall traffic trends and also areas that need improvement.

Keep in mind that your investment in these solutions will provide a return long-term with increased traffic and an upswing in revenues. The data you collect will help you adapt your vision of mall spaces and choose the most profitable options for your business.

Contact Traf-Sys to inquire about our services and how we can measure your mall traffic for a brighter and more successful future.

10 Ways the Casino Industry is Using People Counting Technology

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  2. 2018

The casino industry is making a resurgence despite setbacks seen during the recent recession years. Casinos are enjoying increased revenue streams not only from the gaming aspects of their operations but from the restaurants, shows, shopping and other forms of non-gaming entertainment within their facilities.

Casino industry operators in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, throughout the U.S. and Native American Nations are using people counting technology installed at entrances and other key facility locations to understand better how patrons move through their casinos and the activities that are the biggest draws.

Here are ten ways people counters are a great benefit to this industry and why it is important for your business.

  1. Main entrance people counters: This can give you a total number of daily visitors coming into your casino. This data is vital to casino owners interested in gauging revenue percentages.

 

  1. Find high volume and low volume times: This data is helpful for scheduling special promotions or events to maximize revenue.

 

  1. In-casino service and entertainment locations: People counters can determine how many people visit shows, restaurants, bars or retail stores within the facility. The casino industry operators determine which services are successful—or not so successful—to determine funding and improve marketing.

 

  1. New game popularity: People counters can determine the success of new games being offered. If a new game is not doing as well as anticipated, perhaps moving it to a higher traffic area could “better the odds” of success.

 

  1. Sort out gamblers and non-gamblers: Using people counting data and observations, you can compare the number of people gambling with those just walking around or enjoying entertainment options.

 

  1. Forecast labor needs: People counters can help you determine when extra staffing for games, restaurants and security is required. Tracking casino patrons by the hour, day, week, month can also assist with optimizing facility management services such as heating, lighting, etc.

 

  1. Exterior people tracking: Know where your customers are coming from or going to with adjacent properties such as parking garages, outdoor pools or convention centers.

 

  1. General traffic flow: Knowing where the traffic flow is greatest can be beneficial for advertising or holding special promotional events. Perhaps a small entertainment venue near a bar where traffic flow tends to flourish can increase your overall sales revenue.

 

  1. Placement of equipment: People counters can help you place high revenue slots or ATMs in key areas where people tend to linger and need quick access to cash.

 

  1. Determine promotional success: People counters collect valuable data that is invaluable to a casino industry operator. The number of people who attend a special event, deal or promotion can help with future marketing and planning.

People counting technology from Traf-Sys, Inc. gives the casino industry more options for increased visibility into their operations. Real-time data collected by unobtrusive hardware can accurately gauge true interest by patrons of your games and other attractions within the facility. With the right resources in the right places, you will see a boost in revenue and popularity of your casino with proven people counter technology.