The casino industry is filled with opportunities for marketers to create long-term customer relationships. Returning customers encourage others to join in on the fun and improve your casino’s lifetime value. Customer loyalty is vital to keeping your casino growing. Showing your customers that you care about them by knowing their preferences and appealing to them is the best way to keep them coming back. Increasing the value of each visitor and expanding your customer base requires you to look at several aspects of your casino, including customer interaction and marketing strategies. This article discusses how to increase casino traffic and measure your improvements.
Identify the Busiest Sections in the Casino
Nighttime tends to bring in more crowds at casinos. It’s prime time for customers to be gambling, dining or relaxing in your space. One method to identify what part of the building is getting the most foot traffic is by using a people counting system. These solutions measure how many visitors attend a particular area or your entire casino each day.
For example, let’s say your table games are busy between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. With the data from a people counting system, you can create strategies to improve the layout and increase staff and resources as needed during the day. Placing the people counters strategically around your casino will help ensure accurate data.
Knowing the busiest sections of your casino can also be an opportunity for advertising your most popular games and attractions. Some gamblers believe they are more likely to win when the casino is most crowded or suspect casinos change the payout of games based on the day and time. Finding where your visitors congregate can help you decide if you need more staffing or accommodations available.
Measure the Effectiveness of Marketing
Casino marketing work to increase customer volume and promote positive guest experiences. Understanding your customers is key to effective marketing. Knowing what they prefer to eat, drink and play helps you create an enjoyable visit for them. You can easily determine these preferences by tracking returning casino-goers. Additionally, opening up your market to reach younger generations can improve your customer loyalty long-term. Create fresh and relatable advertising that appeals to younger audiences without alienating your existing loyal visitors.
Stay on top of gaming trends by looking at what younger gamblers are into. Millennials and Gen Z grew up in a digital age and may be more drawn to your slots and electronic gaming systems. They may also enjoy traditional games free from electronics. In a mixed gaming environment, people tracking systems can measure occupancy and help you target audiences based on the popularity of these games.
Additionally, different generations have different preferences for casino layout. In general, millennials look tend to look for a simple layout of games available, rather than a traditional floor setup.
Having accurate, timely data on your traffic lets you determine how well your marketing campaigns are working and helps you have optimal staff and services ready to handle large crowds. Using a people counting system makes it easier for your team to adapt to your customers’ preferences. With our VisiCount software, you can import your sales data into the program and generate reports calculating your conversion rates. From this, you can see how effective your marketing is at bringing in visitors and how well your sales are doing.
Based on your traffic data, you can determine the best times to offer deals to customers. The goal is to keep the customer happy and increase their length of stay. When you use a people counter, you can find the times of high occupancy and offer promotions during this time, letting your customers feel like there are many opportunities to win and plenty of reasons to stay.
Get your visitors to talk more about your casino by giving it a big presence on social media. Having a social media presence with frequently updated links and information will keep users aware of what’s happening in your casino. You should also have a website with content that will attract your target audience. Your site can also feature promotions and loyalty programs to draw online visitors to your casino in person.
Inside your casino, be sure to make your interior just as engaging and interactive as your website. Having the right lighting and noise control can establish an engaging and comfortable environment. Consider how you can make your casino more interactive for guests, like providing enough seating and tables for them to converse with their friends. Promote games that involve the whole friend group to increase interaction and enjoyment. Make your space inviting for people wanting to play games and for people wanting to enjoy quality time and entertainment with others.
Pursue Corporate Events and Businesses
Having opportunities for your large group events at your casino can also increase your guest traffic and improve the value per visitor. Your marketing team can reach out to corporate event planners and spread the word about your casino as a venue possibility for team-building events, company parties and industry conferences. When you bring in businesses from the area, attendees at these events can explore your casino and may be more likely to return on their own later.
It’s important to present your available space to corporations with available information online. This will show your casino is credible and appealing to corporate businesses. Include any relevant information for various industries. Including photos of past corporate events and information about the amenities your venue offers on your website can build a good reputation and online presence. Let your casino appeal to businesses from all over the area to increase your customer base. After any business event, be sure to follow up with clients and attendees with surveys or promotions to increase the possibility of returning customers.
Get the Visitor Information You Need With Traf-Sys
Making your visitors happy is key to building up customer loyalty. Your business should create spaces to ensure longer customer stays and increased traffic. Expanding your focus from games to include corporate events, social aspects and marketing goals provides more opportunities for improving your visitor experience.
People counting systems help you account for space utilization, ensuring staffing and resources are available at high occupancy. Reaching out to your visitors in real-time with this data can help create a smooth experience for both your customers and employees.
Improve your casino marketing tactics with a people counting system from Traf-Sys. Get a free quote today!
College is for more than academics — students and faculty bustle around cafeterias, dorms and sports facilities all over campus. Knowing the number of people that occupy a certain space at any given time of the day or week can help determine staffing and cleaning schedules.
If you’re preparing to welcome students and faculty back to your college campus this year, improve your campus space with people counters. People counters provide valuable data about daily traffic to areas of your campus, which you can use to enhance campus life for both students and faculty.
Hotspot Monitoring in Various Locations
People counters allow you to monitor hotspots where foot traffic is regularly high. Areas like libraries, on-campus cafes or restaurants and gyms are commonly crowded during specific times of the day. With people counters in these hotspots, faculty and staff can use the data to effectively attend to and clean these areas and even set maximum capacities to keep the campus community healthy.
Libraries have become more than just shelves of books. These days, you can find endless physical and digital resources in these buildings, especially on college campuses. As a result, both students and faculty frequently access libraries for materials for classes. However, college libraries can also be a haven, offering quiet spaces to get work done, collaborate on group projects or apply to internships and jobs.
People counters in a library can track the number of people entering and moving about the library space, offering you accurate daily visitor counts and a better sense of the most occupied areas of the library. This knowledge allows you to serve your campus community better. Essentially, you can determine areas where traffic could flow more effectively so you can make changes to the layout to improve your visitors’ experience.
On-Campus Cafes and Restaurants
On-campus cafes and restaurants are consistently high-traffic areas, particularly on big campuses. Using people counters in these areas of campuses is essential for determining the busiest times of the day. Knowing the specific times when students and faculty commonly eat in these spaces and the length of time they spend there will be valuable information to you.
Having this information can allow you to adequately staff the high-traffic cafes to help serve patrons more efficiently. You’ll also be able to determine the most convenient times for cleaning and resetting tables. When you understand how the campus community uses the cafe and restaurant spaces, you can create dining layouts that make the most of the space to improve visitors’ overall experiences.
Gyms and Sports Facilities
Gyms and sports facilities on campus are often the hosts of sports events and special programs because they provide large amounts of space for crowds to gather. People counters can help you identify peak hours of operation, which staff can use when scheduling gym classes, programs and other events. If you have a particularly popular course or program that draws large crowds, you can use this data to determine if it’d be beneficial to offer more than one session.
People counter data helps you prevent overcrowding, which will improve your gym members’ experience. Gym facilities also require frequent cleaning as occupants leave or move to other areas of the facility. Monitoring high-traffic areas of the gym can help you determine how often cleaning should occur — and with more sensors in place, you can learn when gym-goers leave an area, helping ensure staff clean the equipment before the next use.
Implementing people counters into your college campus facilities will benefit you and the campus community. These sensors can help administrators monitor occupancy limits and schedule usage-based cleaning to keep students and staff safe upon returning to campus.
People counters are beneficial in determining when people use your facilities the most. This data will benefit you and your college community because it allows you to better prepare the area for high volumes of people. You may need to adjust your hours of operation to accommodate more people and their availability. People counters can be key in helping to determine these needs.
2. Determine Staffing Needs Using Popular Times
Once you use people counters to identify peak hours, you can then determine what times may require more or fewer staff members. Your facilities will operate more efficiently when enough employees can staff them. Using this data to schedule your staff can also be more cost-efficient, as you can save hourly wages at times when you don’t need as much staffing.
3. Schedule Cleaning
With increased sanitation needs across campuses, maintenance workers may find it more challenging to determine which areas need more attention than others. People counters can be beneficial in helping you assess high-traffic areas within each facility, allowing cleaning staff to better focus their efforts on the areas they need to clean most often. Using this data to schedule usage-based cleaning will save you and your staff time and resources. Regularly and consistently cleaning hotspots also ensures the health and safety of the campus community.
4. Set Occupancy Limits
People counters offer an accurate way to track the number of visitors at any given moment. This knowledge can be especially helpful in setting and maintaining occupancy limits in your facilities. Keeping a manual tally can be unreliable, time-consuming and takes a staff member away from other tasks. People counters offer you an efficient way to collect this data.
5. Use Data in Funding Requests
College campuses often struggle to receive funding for their facilities. For example, academic libraries receive less than two cents of every dollar that goes to higher education. You can use the data from the people counters around your campus facilities to help justify your need for more funding.
Contact Traf-Sys for a Free Quote
People counters are a valuable way to collect data about foot traffic through your campus facilities. Their benefits help you efficiently operate these facilities, improving the campus and the experience for students and staff. If you’re looking to implement people counters to benefit your college campus, Traf-Sys people counting systems are the solution you’re looking for.
Many industries use people counters as a way to understand what their daily traffic looks like. A store uses people counters to understand their busy times and their overall conversion rate. Libraries use people counters to understand their circulation in the context of how many visitors they have. Shopping centers, malls and other commercial property owners use people counters to gauge the desirability of their properties to retailers and set rents. In public spaces, colleges and universities, people counters track space utilization to assist with funding and resource distribution.
Businesses across sectors use people counters to get reliable data about their visitors and traffic patterns. They can apply this data to serve many purposes, which makes people counters so useful and versatile.
What Is Foot Traffic?
Foot traffic is a metric many businesses use to understand how many people entered a specific location. Retailers use it to determine how many potential customers were in their store during a given time frame. Commercial landlords, especially those in shopping malls, use foot traffic to determine rent for retail locations. Retail space can command higher rent if more people pass by regularly.
Many businesses are familiar with traffic in how it relates to a website. Online, traffic is equal to the number of people who visited a website or particular page. Marketers use many tactics to drive traffic online, and the visitor count determines their success. An e-retailer looks at site traffic in relation to how many visitors placed an online order to learn how effective their website is at driving sales. Foot traffic is that same metric translated into the physical retail space.
Retailers use foot traffic to gain many useful insights. It lets them see when their peak hours are. They can also understand their conversion rate and lost sales opportunities. If a product doesn’t sell well during peak hours, it might be taking up valuable shelf space. A store can also correlate their business traffic to other events to see how they influence visitor counts. Boosting foot traffic is key to increasing sales, so understanding how visitor numbers rise and fall is critical.
How Do People Counters Measure Foot Traffic?
Online traffic is easy to measure. Most websites show their owners traffic graphs by default. To gain the same level of clarity over their visitor counts, physical businesses need to implement a people counting system.
One way to do this is to have someone count visitors with pen and paper or a handheld tally counter. The manual method is the least accurate and efficient. The staff member charged with counting visitors must be solely focused on counting people to avoid miscounts. Manual counting increases your labor expenses and limits staff productivity. If you have multiple store entrances, manual counting gets quite unwieldy. Even if staff members are incredibly focused, they’re still inclined to make errors because the task is so rote.
Electronic people counting systems boast 95%-99% accuracy and require no extra labor power to give you accurate counts. They measure business traffic and space utilization using either overhead or horizontal sensors. Overhead sensors go directly above the entrance and scan a predetermined zone in front of the door to identify pedestrians. They filter out shelves, carts, children and sometimes staff members to give you an accurate count. They also look at the direction of movement to separate those entering from those exiting. Overhead sensors might incorporate one or two video camera lenses, a thermal sensor or an infrared sensor.
Horizontal sensors work by projecting a break beam across the door frame. Whenever something passes through, it counts as a person. Anything tall enough to break the beam, including a loaded shopping cart, will be counted. Horizontal sensors can be uni-directional, meaning they count a person any time the beam breaks. In that case, you divide your final count by two to determine your actual traffic. They can also be bi-directional, where two parallel laser beams span the doorway. Whichever beam breaks first determines whether the pedestrian is entering or exiting.
People counters might give you a count by the hour or at the end of the day, depending on the system’s accuracy. Some types of overhead sensors can even track your foot traffic in real-time.
When you use automated people counters, you can access your foot traffic data via software. The software can break down your foot traffic into custom periods to compare traffic during a promotion or time of year to another. Analyze your data by the entrance to decide how to arrange your entrance displays. The software lets you import sales data to generate conversion rates and staffing data to track productivity in the context of traffic. You can also correlate traffic data to weather patterns or other external factors right from the software.
What Other Metrics Do People Counters Measure?
People counters measure more than just foot traffic. By counting the number of people visiting a business location, people counters can give you insights into:
A conversion rate is the number of transactions divided by the number of people who visit a store. Retailers used to assume most people who entered their store were buying something. When people counters become popular, the numbers told a different story. While the numbers remain hard to pin down, since not all stores track traffic accurately or at all, the industry average rests around a 20% conversion rate.
Understanding your conversion rate, rather than just your raw sales data, gives you an idea of how many sales opportunities you had. Even a 1% increase in conversions can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. The only way to improve is to understand how your promotions, store, signage and other factors raise and decrease your conversion rates.
Average Transaction Value (ATV)
One way retailers can increase their revenue is to increase the basket size or amount of money individual shoppers spend per visit. This amount represents your ATV — your net sales divided by the number of transactions. Your point-of-sale (POS) system might generate your ATV automatically. Otherwise, you can calculate the figure manually. While you don’t need a people counter to access your ATV, you’ll benefit from aggregating foot traffic with your ATV and comparing these two metrics.
A 2011 academic study found increasing in-store traffic by just one unit increased average sales volume per hour by $9.97. Many factors can contribute to your average transaction value, and traffic is undoubtedly one of them. Understanding how traffic affects basket size in your store helps you maximize your revenue.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
It’s impossible to understand your customer acquisition cost without understanding your traffic and conversion rate. Any marketing you do, whether on or off the premises, determines how many people come through the door. Then, the marketing within the store, product selection and layout determine who converts. All the costs that go into marketing divided by the number of customers acquired represent your CAC.
The data used to determine your CAC can come from your marketing budget and your POS system. It’s crucial to look at this number in light of your foot traffic to identify areas to lower your CAC. If you’re spending a lot of marketing budget getting people in the door, and they aren’t converting in-store, you may need to adjust your strategy. Increasing your conversion rate may lower your CAC.
Benefits of People Counters for Businesses
Retailers, librarians, facilities managers, landlords, hoteliers and anyone with a physical business location can use people counting technology. No matter your business, you’ll benefit from knowing how many people visit you and when. Foot traffic data offers businesses across industries actionable information. Here’s why your business needs a people counter:
Better Understand Business Performance
Seeing your foot traffic and conversion rate lets you know how effectively your business is performing. If a different marketing strategy or employee-to-customer ratio impacts traffic or conversions, you know about it from your foot traffic reports.
You can also compare the performance of one location to another. Are all your sites earning traffic in equal measure as a result of your marketing? Or, are some of your stores consistently pulling in more foot traffic? When you know which stores are drawing in the most customers, you can investigate what factors are at play so you can boost performance at other locations.
Improve Customer Experience
Peak hours sometimes correlate with your shoppers’ needs. For example, a store with peak shopping hours on weekends might cater to “shoppertainment.” Shoppers on weekends may be more interested in having an enjoyable, leisurely visit. A store with peak traffic after business hours on workdays needs a different approach. It might focus on helping shoppers quickly find what they need so they can get home sooner.
When you know your peak shopping hours, you can design a customer experience for the people shopping. It also lets you optimize staffing, so your store runs smoothly during busy times, improving customer experience.
Evaluate Signage and Promotional Success
Is your latest promotion driving more traffic to your location? Is your new sign drawing in passersby from around the plaza? Foot traffic data lets you know if your out-of-store promotions make an impact. Knowing your conversion rate, you’ll also see how your in-store displays affect sales in proportion to traffic. Based on how your traffic and conversions rise and fall, you can tweak your business marketing strategies to find the winning formula.
Compare Digital vs. Physical Traffic
Different types of marketing strategies for small businesses will have different effects on your customers’ behavior. For instance, some of your promotions drive traffic to your website and others to your brick-and-mortar location. Do the same factors that increase your physical traffic give you some lift online? Do you gain more online visitors when in-store traffic is low? Comparing your online and offline visitors lets you better understand your customer journey. Foot traffic shows you how your promotions influence shopping behavior across selling channels.
Understand External Factors That Affect Your Business
Anything from the weather and season to the economy and consumer trends can influence your traffic. Bad weather can impact sales by 23.1%, primarily due to the lowered foot traffic. While these factors are out of your control, knowing how they influence your traffic lets you prepare.
For instance, weather-themed sales, such as for rain clothing or beach fashion, can increase by 40.7% based on the weather. Knowing how weather affects your traffic and conversions in particular product categories helps you make the most out of weather events. You might orchestrate a last-minute sale on bathing suits or fans in anticipation of a heat wave. If snowstorms tend to make business slow, you can move your staff schedule around in anticipation. Likewise, if an annual parade in your area brings in more foot traffic, you can prepare with promotions to attract paradegoers.
Ideally, you want to schedule only as many team members as needed to cover the number of shoppers you have. If you’re understaffed, you’ll miss sales opportunities. Too few cashiers will increase lines at the register, which may turn away customers. Too few stockers may mean you run out of popular items and won’t sell as many as your customers demand. Overstaffing your store means you’ll spend more on labor than you need to.
Knowing what your traffic looks like by the day and by the hour lets you schedule staff most effectively. Once you’ve been using people counting for a year or two, you’ll start to anticipate your seasonal rushes, letting you optimize temporary staffing, too.
A people counter is an essential part of your loss prevention system if you know how to read your foot traffic reports. First, you’ll establish a baseline for how much revenue you can expect in a given period as correlated with your foot traffic. Let’s say you usually average about $500 in sales between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sundays, with usual foot traffic of 50 people.
If you get around 60 visitors one Sunday and sales revenue stays at around $500, the cause may be shoplifting. Your traffic data also shows you if more people used a particular entrance, like the one closest to electronics. If something like this shows up on your foot traffic reports, it’s a good idea to review your security footage during that sales window.
Video-based people counters can even supplement your regular security cameras.
Evaluate Business Expansion Opportunities
When you track foot traffic at your location, you’re armed with more knowledge regarding expanding. Since many commercial landlords track foot traffic, you can compare your current traffic numbers to those cited at a potential rental location. Predict whether a new site will be as profitable as your first based on the foot traffic data.
While there are two main categories of people counters, each has a few different options. Horizontal sensors give you a choice between bi-directional and uni-directional counting. Overhead sensors all offer multi-directional data, with either thermal and image-based counting. Each of these options provides a unique set of advantages and drawbacks.
Horizontal Wired and Wireless Counting Systems
Horizontal counting systems count people based on how many breaks in the horizontal laser beam they sense. These are the most basic and inexpensive automatic people counters. They might use bi- or uni-directional data to give you a count. Since horizontal sensors go along the doorframes of each entrance, they are fast and easy to install.
The downside of horizontal counting systems is their accuracy. Since they only have a linear range, miscounts are more likely. Two people walking abreast may be counted as one. A tall child accompanying an adult shopper might be counted as another potential shopper. If your sensor makes a noise when it senses a passerby, you might get children falsely triggering the sensor for fun.
A uni-directional sensor also makes it harder to pinpoint peak shopping hours. For example, say you take counts every hour using a uni-directional sensor. Every hour, on the hour, you divide your hourly count in two. Let’s say 25 people visited your location in a given hour, and many showed up in the last half of the hour. By the time the hour is up, only five of those 25 people have left the store. A uni-directional sensor would give you a count of 30. You would divide that in two, leaving you with 15. You would wrongly estimate you had 15 visitors during the hour when your traffic was 25.
Because of their accuracy limitations, a horizontal people counter is best for doorways narrower than 10 to 15 feet maximum. They also work better for low-density entrances, making them an affordable option for small businesses. Horizontal counters come in both wired and wireless versions. If you have outlets handy near each entry, you can plug your sensors in at a standard 110-volt power outlet. All the horizontal counters can be battery-powered, giving you a year or more of operation between replacements.
Overhead Counting Systems
Overhead sensors have a bird’s eye view of your entrance area. Since they cover the zones in front of your entrances and identify people individually, they give a more detailed view of your customers. They sense directional flow, so they automatically discount people exiting the store. They can also give you an idea of where your traffic is headed, whether that’s forward, to the right or to the left. Two types of technology can power overhead counting systems — thermal and video sensors. These two technologies can even integrate, so one verifies the other’s accuracy.
No matter which type you choose, you can gain distinct benefits from an overhead sensor. They’re an excellent option for locations with wide entrances and a large physical layout. Overhead sensors are more accurate and can filter out shopping carts and children.
Thermal Overhead Sensors
Thermal overhead sensors use thermal imaging technology to detect people entering and exiting. These systems use body heat, so they can’t accidentally count a cart or another object. Since thermal cameras don’t use light, they work equally well in low-light settings like restaurants and in direct sunlight.
Another benefit of thermal overhead sensors is they have an impressive 95% accuracy. They can cover wide entrances and integrate with detectors at other doors.
One downside to thermal sensors is they are more expensive than basic horizontal counters. Compared to video cameras, they have a smaller field of vision and a lower resolution. As a result, they’re less accurate at identifying children. One other disadvantage is they can only track people in motion. A display near the entrance that causes people to stop can affect the system’s accuracy.
Video-Based Overhead Sensors
The other type of overhead sensor is a system using a camera lens. These overhead counters can provide video footage of your store traffic. The sensor and corresponding software automatically generate traffic data. You also have up to 10 days of stored footage, which you can access for more in-depth analysis. Since the technology is video-based, it can even act as a backup for your security cameras.
Video sensors come in two types — single and dual-lens cameras. The dual cameras offer binocular vision for greater depth perception, while single-lens systems are more affordable. While they are most expensive to implement, video sensors provide excellent accuracy. They can filter out carts, strollers and children from your results with precision.
How to Choose the Right People Counter for Your Business
Your business will likely benefit from all the fantastic metrics available to you with a people counter. The question is, which one is right for you? Different people counters work better in different buildings and layouts. Ask yourself four questions to narrow down your options.
How is your entrance set up? If you have an open doorway, a horizontal counter may not provide accuracy. Horizontal counters work best with sliding doors since the doors won’t block the beam. If you have swing doors, you’ll need them to swing out. Also, low-volume entrances are more conducive to horizontal sensors.
How wide is your entrance? A wide opening — anything above 15 feet — will likely require an overhead people counter. You may need several overhead sensors to span the distance. We generally recommend one sensor per 11 feet of opening. Overhead counters will also need a wired connection to the ceiling.
What time intervals do you want to use when capturing traffic? If you only need a general count of how many people visit your business a day, a uni-directional horizontal sensor is all you need. If you want to capture data by the hour or even more frequently, a bi-directional sensor will work better. Track traffic over shorter intervals using either horizontal or overhead sensors.
Do people browse near your entryway? Since thermal sensors need people to be in motion for an accurate count, it may lose accuracy if shoppers stop near the entrance. A horizontal sensor won’t get confused unless someone stops in the exact path of the laser beam. However, if you have many people browsing in the entryway, you may want to collect more data. Video-based sensors can keep an eye on shoppers who stop to browse and those who pass on through. Review the stored footage from your overhead sensor to get an idea of how many of your visitors pause to browse your display entrances.
Request Your Free Quote From Traf-Sys
Traf-Sys offers an array of people counting systems to meet the needs of any business. Our most sophisticated people counting system, SafeEntry, offers real-time people counting for occupancy monitoring. We also provide affordable horizontal people counters and data-rich overhead people counters. Our systems are between 95%-99% accurate, and we’ll assist you through the entire installation process. We can help you decide which people counter is right for you and teach you to make sense of your foot traffic data after implementation.
Ready to start collecting valuable data about your visitors? Tell us about your company and the products you’re interested in and request your free quote today.
Technology is on the menu for many restaurants looking for ways to improve their operations, enhance the customer experience and increase profits. One of the tech tools you may not have considered yet for your restaurant business is a people counting system. These systems are especially popular in the retail industry, but some restaurateurs are catching on to the fact that people counting systems also have some valuable applications in their sector.
These systems can help restaurant owners and managers monitor their occupancy levels for social distancing requirements and provide them with important metrics for managing and improving their businesses. If you’re interested in these major benefits, take a moment to learn more about people counting systems and how you can use them in your restaurant.
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If you’re new to the world of people counting systems, there are a few things you need to know. People counting systems can consist of only software or a combination of hardware and software. In either case, they help you monitor the number of people who visit your business. This can help with tracking in real-time to remain within capacity limits and providing data that can help you measure your restaurant’s success.
Some systems use software installed on your devices, such as a touch-screen tablet or mobile phone, to facilitate people counting. In these systems, you need employees stationed at each entry point of your restaurant. The employee will indicate on their device each time a person enters or exits the building.
Even if you have several entrances and exits, you can have multiple employees track people coming in or going out. The software will combine the input from all workers to keep an accurate count of the total number of people inside at any given time.
2. Thermal Overhead Sensors
Overhead counting systems with combined hardware and software have some advantages over software-only programs since they automate the process. Thermal overhead systems register when a person walks in your restaurant by sensing their body heat.
These systems are highly accurate, and they have multidirectional sensing. In other words, they can tell whether a person is entering or exiting your restaurant based on the direction they’re moving toward. They can even sense how people move around inside your restaurant.
3. Video-Based Overhead Sensors
Another type of overhead sensor is a video-based system. These processes use video cameras mounted on the ceiling to visually track people entering and leaving your restaurant.
This can help you monitor the number of patrons in your restaurant. These systems can also filter out children and strollers, so you can count only adults if you want. Video systems require adequate lighting to sense people’s comings and goings.
Using People Counting Systems to Monitor Restaurant Occupancy Limits
All restaurants have occupancy limits. Building inspectors set these limits according to guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). If your restaurant is divided into separate rooms, such as the main dining area and a private banquet or set of party rooms, you’ll have distinct occupancy load ratings for each of these spaces. When restaurants purchase tables and chairs and arrange their seating, they should make sure their restaurant’s seating capacity does not exceed their official capacity limits.
Normally, once you’ve arranged your restaurant’s seating, you never have to give your occupancy limits a second thought unless you notice there are areas where too much congestion occurs and people are uncomfortable.
The Importance of Occupancy Limits
In many cases, state and local governmental bodies have imposed new restrictions on restaurants to ensure they avoid overcrowding and encourage social or physical distancing. This practice is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as remaining 6 feet apart from people who are not in your household. This distance can provide a buffer between occupants that prevents them from passing germs, as they would be more likely to do if they were close together.
For many restaurants, promoting social distancing means adjusting their capacity limits for the time being. Even in the absence of government mandates, restaurants should still adjust their capacities and layouts as needed to follow CDC guidelines and create safe environments for their customers.
How to Measure Restaurant Occupancy Limits
Some local mandates require restaurants to limit their capacity to a certain percentage of their maximum load rating. For example, bars and restaurants in Minnesota must restrict their capacities to a maximum of 50%. If their normal capacity limit was 150 people, it would now be just 75 people. Limiting capacity according to a percentage can be a helpful way forward for restaurants looking to reduce crowding.
However, you may be able to arrive at a more precise calculation by determining the number of customers or parties you can fit in your dining room while maintaining 6 feet between tables. Normally, restaurants should allow at least 18 inches between seats that back up to each other, but this amount of space isn’t enough for physical distancing.
The CDC recommends reworking your restaurant’s layout to allow for adequate social distancing. Once you’ve created an arrangement that enables this, count the number of seats to arrive at your dining area’s new maximum capacity. Keep in mind that this number does not include waitstaff, so it is best to err on the side of allowing a bit of extra space.
You may think that spacing out tables and seats is enough to ensure you stay within your new capacity limits, but that isn’t necessarily the case. You could have people crowded in your lobby, for instance, causing you to exceed your restaurant’s safe capacity limits.
This is where people counting systems can prove extremely useful. Whether by using employees equipped with occupancy counting software or automatic people counting devices, your restaurant can accurately track the total number of people inside at any given time. This way, you can be sure you’re staying within your new maximum capacity rating and encouraging social distancing.
Accurate occupancy tracking is especially critical if you’re trying to follow mandates from your local government. Even without those mandates, though, you want to demonstrate to the public that you care about their well-being and are serious about your social distancing policies. By using a people counting system and enforcing your capacity limits, you can avoid unsafe instances of overcrowding.
Using People Counting Systems to Improve Restaurant Profitability
People counting systems are helpful for more than just monitoring capacity limits. They can also help owners and managers develop strategies to increase sales in restaurants by providing critical data. There are many metrics, also called key performance indicators (KPIs), restaurants can use to measure their profitability.
Some of these metrics involve costs and other things that do not relate to occupancy. Some KPIs, however, deal with foot traffic, conversion rates and other factors associated with the number of people who enter your restaurant and enjoy a drink or meal there. A people counting system can help you track these KPIs, which subsequently gives you enhanced insight into how your business runs and how you can improve your building layout to better serve customers.
Profitability Metrics for Restaurants
Restaurateurs should pay attention to various metrics to gain a full and objective picture of how their restaurant is doing and where they can improve their practices. When you make a change, you can use the data once again to see what effect it had. Simply relying on general impressions and hunches is a poor way to do business since these things can often be wrong. Instead, you should rely on data.
What sort of data? Restaurants should start by establishing variables like their fixed overhead costs and break-even point so they understand the baseline they need to meet to be profitable. Aside from these basic measurements, some KPIs that restaurants should consider tracking include:
Cost of goods sold (COGS): The cost of goods sold is essentially the cost of your inventory. In this case, those are the ingredients that go into making the dishes you sell. You need to know this cost so you can determine which prices to put on your menu and how much you need to sell to be profitable.
Labor cost: Another important number you need to know is how much you spend on compensating your employees. Adding your labor costs and COGS together gives you your prime cost. You also want to identify the labor cost percentage. In other words, what percentage of your total sales will pay your employees?
RevPASH: A helpful way to measure profitability in the restaurant industry is revenue per available seat hour (RevPASH). To calculate your restaurant’s RevPASH, you divide your revenue for a certain time period by the number of seat hours in that same period. This tells you how much money, on average, each seat is pulling in.
Average ticket size: This KPI is also commonly called sales per head. This metric is a measure of how much the average diner or party spends at your restaurant. You’ll typically want to note these averages separately for different times of day, such as lunch and dinner service.
Table turn time: You should also know the average amount of time a party spends eating and relaxing around a table in your restaurant. This can help you determine how many people you can host during an average day or lunch or dinner service.
Occupancy rates: It’s also helpful to know what percentage of your tables or seats are occupied with paying customers at any given time. In addition to the average table occupancy, you’ll want to note which times of day are busiest and which are slowest so you can plan and staff accordingly.
Conversion rates: One of the most important KPIs you can measure is your conversion rate, especially if your restaurant is in an area with a lot of foot traffic where people come in to check the place out or view your menu. This is the percentage of people who step through your front door who end up making a purchase.
Gross profit: Gross profit is the money left over after you’ve subtracted the cost of goods sold from your revenue. You can calculate this cost for specific periods to determine the gross profit you made during that time. Keep in mind that some of your gross profit will go to cover fixed overhead costs.
These numbers aren’t very helpful in a vacuum. Restaurants often compare their KPIs to restaurant financial benchmarks to determine the health of their businesses. For instance, understanding the norm for restaurant industry sales can help you know whether yours are on point. You can also use KPIs to compare the performance of various restaurant locations or compare your restaurant’s profitability at different seasons or year over year.
Using a People Counting System to Help You Manage Your Restaurant
Notice that some of the KPIs above require you to know how many people are visiting your restaurant. In some cases, you could use a modern point of sale (POS) system to track sales data, but this will only give you information about tickets. To know the precise number of people in your restaurant and to determine conversion rates, you need a system that accounts for every person who walks into your establishment. You can get this data with a people counting system.
Using a people counting system to measure restaurant traffic has some important benefits for tracking your restaurant’s performance and helping you strategize to improve your business. The data your system provides can help you with:
Scheduling: Your people counting system could give you valuable insight into what days of the week or times of day are busiest and which are slowest, so you can schedule staff strategically. This can help you avoid under- and overstaffing, which could then lead to reduced labor costs.
Promotions: Accurately understanding slow times can also help you determine when you may need to offer a special promotion to drive more traffic to your business. If you do create promotions, you can use your people counting system to determine how successful or unsuccessful your initiative was in driving more traffic.
Conversions: Strategies to increase sales in restaurants must start with an accurate understanding of your current conversion rates. Comparing your people counting data to your sales information will show you any gap that exists in the people who come in and people who are paying customers. These are the potential patrons who decide to leave rather than be seated or order at the counter. If you have a conversion rate that is less than ideal, it’s time to find ways to convert these skeptical walk-ins.
Traffic trends: You can also use this data to determine whether your restaurant is experiencing growth or a decline in popularity. This could change from quarter to quarter or year to year. You can also compare the traffic levels at different restaurant locations. You may find your marketing strategy needs to focus on how to increase foot traffic to your restaurant.
Footfall patterns: If you have multiple entrances, you can also use people counting systems to see which entrances your patrons use most, which could differ depending on the time of day or other factors. This can help you decide where to place host podiums or signs directing customers to seat themselves or telling them where they need to go.
Customer experience: Ultimately, tracking foot traffic numbers and patterns in your restaurant can help you deliver an improved customer experience. Whether through better staffing decisions, an adjusted layout or any other improvement you’ve made, customers can enjoy a better experience at your restaurant.
Considerations When Choosing the Right People Counting System for Your Restaurant
According to an industry report from Toast, a provider of hardware and software solutions for restaurants, 95% of restaurateurs believe restaurant technology improves their business efficiency. What holds restaurant owners back from purchasing new technology for their businesses? In many cases, it’s the overwhelming nature of all the tech options out there today. How can you know what you really need?
In addition to important tools like POS systems, digital menu screens and online ordering features, you should also seriously consider investing in a people counting system. As we’ve seen, this simple addition to your restaurant can pull in valuable data to help you manage your company more successfully. It could help you significantly as you monitor occupancy levels. The question then becomes, how can you choose the best people counting system for your restaurant?
Consider each of these questions to determine what type of system is best for your application:
What is your budget? One practical concern you’ll need to consider is your budget. If you want to invest in a people counting system, but you’re working within a tight budget, you may want to consider a software-only solution. Keep in mind, however, that this means employees have to monitor entrances. Alternatively, you could start by leasing a system and then make a purchase later when your budget allows.
Do you have an outlet near your entrance? If you’re looking at wired systems, make sure you have an electrical outlet near your entrance. If not, stick to wireless ones.
Do people tend to linger at your entrance? If you have a large entrance where people tend to linger or congregate to wait to order or wait on tables, an overhead video system is probably the best option since it can detect people’s presence even if they are standing still.
Does your entrance double as an exit? If you have people entering and exiting through the same doors, which is typical for most restaurants, then you will need multidirectional — or bidirectional — sensors that can tell whether someone is coming in or leaving. Multidirectional systems, such as thermal overhead programs, are beneficial for giving you an accurate count of how many people are inside your restaurant.
Do you have more than one entrance? If you have more than one entry point to your restaurant, you’ll need a system with multiple sensors that coordinate using the same software. This way, you can combine the data from each door to get an accurate count.
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Some restaurants are installing people counters to meet the challenges associated with the industry. However, as we’ve seen, people counting systems can deliver a whole host of benefits to restaurants by providing valuable data on traffic quantity and patterns. For these reasons, people counting systems will maintain a strong presence in restaurants well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Capacity and occupancy counting is new territory for many retailers. Once, it made sense to use a people counting system that could give you a tally at the end of the day or even once per hour. In this way, people counting technology has been used for many years to predict staffing needs and calculate conversion rates.
The issue for retailers today is in finding the best store traffic counters to achieve real-time occupancy tracking. While the technology has been around for years, not all systems can handle continuous monitoring. So, we’ve compiled this guide to everything you need to know about using customer counters for capacity limits. Learn about the benefits of using this technology, check out features you should look for and compare the systems available.
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Today, live occupancy counts are being used to comply with building capacity limits with continuous monitoring. When enforcing fire codes or other safety measures, accurate counting allows you to meet occupancy limits without sacrificing customers. You can also improve shopper satisfaction and maximize sales opportunities. If you keep a line outside your store to stay under capacity, a live count can allow customers to see the current occupancy and decide if they want to wait in line.
As real-time occupancy tracking evolves, retailers will be able to optimize staffing even more. Knowing how many people are in your store and what time they entered allows you to predict how many registers to keep open. You can keep checkout wait times down and avoid short-staffed registers. That level of detail lets you maximize your cashiers’ efficiency, moving them to other duties when occupancy decreases.
The right technology allows you to track staff members separately from customers. This ability can also improve efficiency. For example, imagine the current occupancy count calls for five checkout lanes to be open in 15 minutes. The store manager can use people tracking to see if staff opened five lanes and intervene if needed. The possibilities for continuous occupancy tracking continue to grow as more retailers adopt the technology and begin harnessing its power.
What to Consider Before Choosing Your Customer Counter
People counting technology harnesses sensors to provide a count of how many people enter a store, room or building. Among the many reasons to use a customer counter, limiting or enforcing store capacity is an increasing need. Before you can choose one for your store, you need to evaluate your setting to understand which models will work for you.
First, look at your entrance. Swinging doors may impede the use of certain types of sensors. Some people counters work better for larger doorways, while others can only handle entries up to a specific width. If you have displays and frequent browsing taking place near the entrance, you’ll need a system that can distinguish various objects and movements to avoid miscounts.
Further, you’ll likely need to consider your power requirements. Some models require nearby plug-in power sources, usually a 110-volt outlet. Others offer wireless capabilities with rechargeable or lithium batteries and Power of Ethernet (PoE) capabilities.
Best Features for Capacity Limit People Counters
Most retail people counting systems measure conversion rates. They allow you to look at the total number of sales in the context of the number of people in the store. Depending on the system used, you may receive counts at the end of the day or by the hour. This system works well for marketing purposes, but it may not be ideal for occupancy counting.
If your store plans to use your customer counter to enforce capacity limits, be on the lookout for six key features:
Bi-directional counting: Not every people counting system is optimized for occupancy tracking. To get an accurate picture of who is in your store at a particular time, you need to track both people leaving and entering.
Real-time reporting: A people counting system with intuitive software should be able to give you live reporting. This function allows you to monitor capacity by the minute rather than by the day or hour.
Customization options: The possibilities for people counting are vast. While you may use your counter primarily for occupancy tracking, you may want features for internal metrics. In that case, the ability to connect it to other devices and the right software is critical. You’ll also want the ability to set a custom maximum capacity and a counting range. Finally, it’s helpful to distinguish employees from customers.
Customer-facing display: A digital display allows customers to understand your current capacity. It lets them know when it is safe to enter or how crowded the store will be.
Whole-store tracking: Many sensors can link together in a network. This feature is useful when a store has multiple entrances. Many stores have found it challenging to set the right capacity limit. With integrated tracking, you can find the proper capacity for your space to avoid crowding without sacrificing customers.
Overhead counting: You’ll need an overhead-style people counter to access live reporting. Counters installed on the ceiling directly above your entrances provide the most reliability. With a bird’s eye view, individuals cannot be blocked from the sensors. These counters can be used with doors that swing in either direction and can filter out children, shopping carts and strollers to help you get the most accurate count of your customers. An aerial view also allows these counters to track movement, meaning they can distinguish between shoppers entering and exiting. If there are merchandise displays in the entryway, overhead sensors will not be disrupted, and lingering shoppers won’t be counted more than once. You’ll likely need a power source and a wireless internet connection for live overhead tracking.
Types of Customer Counters for Store Capacity Limits
There are many different types of people counting systems on the market. Each one has unique features that make them ideal for specific environments. To use a people counter for capacity tracking, you’ll need models capable of providing accurate, real-time reports. Keep in mind that many people counters are designed with marketing analytics in mind rather than capacity planning. While any occupancy counter will also be able to provide data to measure conversion rates and the success of your marketing campaigns, not all people counters support live occupancy reporting. Here are two of the best customer counters available, and their level of suitability for live capacity monitoring:
1. Stereo People Counters
Stereo counters are about the size of a rectangular pencil case with two camera lenses. Like human eyesight, the dual cameras provide depth of field. The technology is modeled closely after how binocular vision works in nature. Each of your eyes creates a slightly different image, which your brain combines to create an understanding of your surroundings in three dimensions.
Most stereo sensors mimic the typical distance between human eyes, which averages around 60 millimeters. The software connected to the sensors does the same work as our brains, making sense of the two images collected by each of the camera lenses for 3D image processing. The result is a sensor that can count people as well as a person can. Unlike a person, the technology won’t get fatigued and is less likely to make mistakes.
Benefits of Stereo People Counting Systems
The dual-camera configuration allows the sensor to track the direction of traffic and other useful data. These systems usually attach to the ceiling above the measurement area. They can be slightly tilted to create a broader field of vision while maintaining accuracy. Stereo counters won’t lose sight of their targets even with gaps in traffic flow, making them suitable for high and low volumes. They can monitor entries and exits in real-time. Because of their depth of field, they can estimate heights, identify children and exclude shopping carts for greater accuracy.
Stereo sensors can also be linked in a network to cover every entrance. This feature makes them useful for shopping malls, large department stores or any building with multiple entrances and exits. Because they update via software in real time, an employee at one entrance can tell how many people have entered a store through any door. This capability significantly eases communication and visibility since you don’t have to aggregate information from several employees taking manual counts.
Drawbacks of Stereo People Counting Systems
One potential downside of a stereo counting system is that it uses cameras to identify and track people. Because cameras use visible light, changes in lighting and dim conditions can affect accuracy. Shadows and a busy background can also occasionally influence results. Traf-Sys systems have advanced light sensors that help our stereo counters adjust to different lighting conditions, making them more accurate in various ambient lighting conditions.
Collecting images of your shoppers may present a privacy concern. If your store already uses and stores security footage, you can adapt your current privacy procedures to protect your customers. If privacy is a concern for you, we recommend our time of flight people counting systems, which eliminate this obstacle.
Stereo Counters Available From Traf-Sys
Traf-Sys offers a variety of binocular stereo video sensor models in our Spectrum collection. We have options for indoor heights up to 29.5 feet. We also have systems for outdoor applications with waterproof hardware. They are resilient to changes in lighting or temperature, making them some of the most advanced camera trackers. They also have options to filter out strollers and carts to maintain an accurate capacity count and avoid sacrificing potential revenue. Our systems also have extended coverage for broader entries.
2. Time of Flight Sensor
At about the size of a Wi-Fi router, a time of flight sensor uses some of the most advanced tracking technology. Like a stereo counter, a time of flight sensor can be used for 3D imaging. It sends a signal to the objects below it from its attachment point on the ceiling. Then, it records the reflection of infrared light as it bounces back to the sensor. It can build 3D images of customers by calculating the differences in speed between each beam of infrared light — hence the name, “time of flight.” With excellent depth of field, it can track movement and traffic better than stereo models. These sensors can work even in total darkness and link with other cameras to cover a wide entrance and enhance your data.
Time of flight people counters can track movement along x-, y- and z-axes. The result is even higher accuracy when it comes to tracking movement. They can calculate the heights of individuals within 2 centimeters, making them even more powerful at filtering out shopping carts and children. The images collected by time of flight sensors delineate the shape of a person with incredible accuracy, even outlining the contours of heads and shoulders. Like stereo sensors, they can be mounted on a tilt, increasing the measuring zone for wider entrances.
They are also lighting fast. One study found that time of flight sensors can measure at 150 frames per second, making real-time reporting possible. The same report also found that these sensitive instruments have a minimal average error rate of just 3.1%.
Because time of flight technology works on infrared rather than visible light, it also collects completely anonymous data. You will not need to adopt new practices to protect your customers. Further, it is unaffected by busy floor patterns or shadows.
Drawbacks of Time of Flight Sensors
Though this technology is promising, not all manufacturers can boast excellent performance. It’s crucial to find a provider who can back up their accuracy claims. The Traf-Sys time of flight tracking system has a 99.5% accuracy rating, and we’ve backed this up with video validation.
One other disadvantage of time of flight sensors is they tend to be more expensive to implement than stereo counters. If budget is a concern for you, you may prefer stereo occupancy monitoring solutions.
Time of Flight People Counting Systems From Traf-Sys
The connected software provides a real-time occupancy count. Connected screens use color-coded warnings when the occupancy is approaching or exceeding capacity. You also have the option to include or exclude staff and keep the records for marketing analysis.
Learn More About Real-Time Occupancy Monitoring From Traf-Sys
At Traf-Sys, we offer a wide selection of people counters for a variety of purposes. We’ve been at the forefront of continuous people counting through our time of flight capacity tracking solution. We also offer one of the best apps for people counting on iPads, smartphones and other mobile devices. Our SafeEntry application is optimized for occupancy tracking, while VisiCount provides advanced footfall analytics, which you can access right from your device.
Every organization places great value on its working space. The area or environment dedicated to operating a facility comes with a significant cost, including the real estate value, the operating expenses and the effectiveness of people working in that space.
It’s difficult to achieve maximum efficiency and produce a proper return on investment without utilizing space to its fullest advantage. Whether it’s retail space, casino space, library space, museum space or university campus space, the facility’s area needs to maximize its space utilization. This is best done by measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) like the number of people using the allowable space.
These KPI measurements are commonly called metrics. They provide realistic data that can be analyzed and used to identify where space is ineffectively utilized. Space utilization metrics can also show what’s really working inside a workspace, which can add significant value to a facility’s operation.
Today’s technology allows facility managers to calculate their space utilization rate easily. Understanding factors like traffic trends and person-to-space occupancy ratios allow managers to improve business performance, secure funding and optimize labor by making better-informed decisions. One of the best technologies available for space utilization calculation and achieving maximum cost-effectiveness is a people counting system.
What Is Space Utilization?
Simply put, space utilization is measuring how and whether allowable space is being used. It’s commonly expressed as a function of occupancy rate and frequency rate. The occupancy looks at how full the space is compared to its capacity, and the frequency rate measures the amount of time the space is used compared to its availability.
Space utilization rates are assessed by the actual use of a facility’s space experiences and the predicted use expected from a particular space. Private office space utilization is no different from public space use when it comes to examining metrics and calculating peak use and low-occupancy times. Whether it’s a corporate boardroom or a library reading area, effective managers must know how their space is truly utilized.
Space utilization is as much about managing people as it is about measuring space. Every facility has its high and low occupancy periods. The trick for managers is knowing how to measure those metrics accurately and move them into a matrix where meaningful data presents a true picture of how their space is used.
Calculating Space Utilization
Another way of viewing space utilization is by dividing a facility’s occupancy by its capacity. For instance, if a facility has the capacity to handle 300 employees but only has 200 on staff, the space utilization ratio is 3:2 or 67 percent utilized. That ratio indicates a lot of unused space, which is expensive real estate.
There is no magic or optimal formula for calculating peak space utilization because each facility has its own specific requirements for the people-to-place formula. For instance, a museum may require extra floor-to-visitor space because of exhibit requirements, while a casino environment will tolerate a much more packed feeling.
A retail outlet, such as a shopping mall location, depends on drop-in traffic. Retail managers have to analyze foot traffic flow trends and compare them with times and promotions so as to maximize their shop space. Education facilities like campuses and universities also have to measure occupancies to schedule staff to meet service needs.
To accurately monitor traffic and understand ultimate space utilization, it’s necessary to measure key factors that balance the people-and-place equation. One true indicator of traffic measurement is a people counting system. These are hardware and software components that provide accurate information on who’s coming, staying and going. People counting systems give a great picture of space utilization metrics.
Metrics are an all-encompassing term for measurement units. There’s no precise metric list because there are so many variables in calculating which parts of a facility are being utilized efficiently and which are being under-utilized. Developing metrics is a matter of examining what key performance factors occur within a particular space.
Another way to look at space utilization metrics is by viewing them as data collection points. Getting meaningful data requires an accurate measurement of what people are doing within a particular place. Some common metrics applicable to calculating space use are:
Overall square footage: The first metric to establish is a facility’s size. In most American sites, like offices and retail outlets, this measurement is normally calculated by the square footage of floor area, rather than the cubic footage, which is a common warehouse metric. The total square footage is then defined by specific usage areas like meeting rooms and dedicated spots for displays.
Overall staff occupancy: An equally important metric for analyzing space utilization is identifying staff numbers and their functions. It’s a rare for a facility to employ all staff members at the same time, so allowance has to be made for high and low employee presence. Many facilities utilize the same space for multiple staff members, such as desk-sharing and common work stations.
Overall visitor traffic: For businesses open to the public, visitor traffic is a key performance issue. Monitoring visitor traffic provides a crucial metric that indicates the additional person-load impacting a workspace. It’s important that visitors have ample space to feel welcome and not repelled by crowded conditions.
Average peak usage: Both staff and visitors will have peak space-use periods. Some businesses experience periodic rushes, while others have a moderate traffic flow. Monitoring the average peak use in a facility is an important part of calculating the best use of available space.
Average peak frequency: Peak use times can vary in frequency. For example, a retail outlet can have an up-and-down scale of visits during the day while a learning institute will have longer fluctuations according to the season. It’s important to establish accurate metrics of how frequent peak capacities occur.
Ratio of visits to staff: This is a very important metric that affects staff scheduling. To manage customer interests, there have to be sufficient staff members present to handle their needs. Monitoring metrics like overall traffic and peak periods give managers a significant advantage to make sure resources match the demand, while allowing the space for them to interact.
Specific usage areas: Some facility areas are utilized more frequently than others. Both employees and customers move fluidly from one area to another, however, they tend to gravitate to certain spots more than others. Monitoring people’s movements within a facility gives managers a solid metric for what space is a highly utilized region and what’s not.
One of the best data-gathering tools for establishing space utilization metrics is a people counting system. Monitoring people through technology gives real-time data about accurate movements within a facility. People monitoring identifies peak usage in all areas like meeting spaces, individual workspaces and common spaces within any facility. Installing a people counting system will truly benefit space utilization management.
7 Benefits of Space Utilization Metrics
Facility space is one of the top costs of operating any business. To be cost-effective and deliver the best return on investment, facility operators have to manage their space as best as possible.
There are many ways that prudent managers benefit from wisely utilizing their space. By developing realistic metrics and applying data generated through people counting, every facility has the opportunity to increase performance and use their allowable space to its advantage. Here are seven benefits gained from space utilization metrics:
Maximizing space use: Knowing the rate of people-flow through a facility is a crucial metric to establish. By having accurate counts of low and high usage periods, a facility manager knows what space is highly utilized and what can be considered a waste of space. Developing metrics from counting people builds a solid foundation for assessing and achieving maximum space use.
Minimizing space costs: Wasted space can really impact a facility’s operating costs. Analyzing metrics developed from people counting gives a true picture of how space is used to its best efficiency. Eliminating unused space significantly saves operating costs and adds to profitability.
Improving employee relations: It’s well-known that employees function best when they have sufficient space to work. However, some suggest that they can’t prosper in excessive space either, as it doesn’t contribute to a satisfying work environment. Clearly defined space metrics will result in building a workplace with optimum space utilization for best employee performance.
Enhancing customer experience: Customers might not be able to recognize maximum space utilization, but they can certainly experience it. They intrinsically know when a private business or public facility is well managed, and they feel the effects of a well laid-out space. Metrics gained from people counting technology can have a positive impact on increasing customer experiences when properly implemented.
Promoting agile environments: There’s an increasing trend to design optimum workspaces that promote agile environments, meaning a working space that seamlessly integrates with multiple activities. One of the principles around agile designs is having unassigned seating where workers have the freedom to use what space serves them best for their assignment.
Conserving energy expenses: It stands to reason that maximized spaces make the best use of energy resources. This goes beyond conserving utility expenses and involves human energy that’s needlessly expended through inefficient environments. A people counting system provides excellent metrics for knowing how to improve space utilization and conserve energy expenses.
Optimizing internal services: Communication between workers and outward to their management team is optimized by having efficient services integrated with excellent use of space. People counting is a support tool for establishing internal service efficiency, and is one more benefit a facility gains through space utilization metrics.
Every company that employs space utilization metrics and implements positive changes can expect a positive impact. Investing in technology support like people counting systems shows up as more than an improved bottom line. The return on investment also comes through as customer satisfaction, employee efficiency and organizational safety.
Technology That Can Improve Space Utilization
People counting systems are fascinating technological tools. They work on a straightforward principle of monitoring human movements in and out of a facility. Technology-based counters also track people as they move about the place.
People counters serve two main purposes. The first is acting as a customer relationship management tool. The second is acting as an internal data-gathering device that builds metrics to monitor employee patterns. In both roles, people counting systems provide excellent benefits that help make the best use of space in every application.
As with all technology, people counting systems continue to evolve. These systems are now highly sensitive compared to early models that simply clicked as people passed by. Many of today’s people counters are complex integrations of hardware and software. Here is a brief view of current people counting technology:
Density counting uses depth data and computer vision, mixed with machine learning, to anonymously track human movement.
Optical sensors are smart cameras that use real-time images to detect movement and identify people.
Break-beams are active infrared monitors that emit and receive light-wave interruption signals.
Thermal imagers detect body heat and register people’s moves on a software platform that builds metric patterns.
Wi-Fi trackers follow cell and smartphone signals to recognize individuals and know if they’ve seen them before.
Seat sensors detect human presence at work stations, on transportation systems and even in movie theaters.
Ultrasonic sensors use sound waves that bounce off people as they pass, and then use the information to supply movement metrics.
Investing in people counting systems is a must for progressive facility managers who want to make the most of their space utilization. There is a wide range of components used for counting people, and they vary in sophistication. These are the common components found in most people counter systems:
Wireless counters rely on wi-fi or radio signal communication.
Integrated software is an important technological support to integrated people counting systems. Compatible software takes data sent from counting sensors and transmits it into meaningful metrics. Information generated in software reports lets a management team clearly view what human activity takes place inside their premises. From this valuable content, managers make serious decisions about utilizing space.
Traf-Sys People Counting Systems Help Utilize Space
Traf-Sys provided top technological solutions where facilities want to maximize their use of space. Traf-Sys people counting systems provide component and software support for traffic monitoring challenges that mine raw data and turn it into meaningful metrics. From this information, business owners and operators have an excellent base on which to plan their optimal space use.
Over 17,000 locations depend on Traf-Sys people counters to inform them of patterns that affect business decisions and bottom lines. These include facilities like universities, retail stores, shopping malls, casinos, libraries and museums. Each one has benefitted by profiling their human movements, and they’ve made better use of their space from it as well as improving their bottom line.
Many types of businesses, including for- and non-profits, rely on people patronizing them. Without adfoot equate pedestrian traffic near your business, you may not hit the numbers you need. But getting people into the door is not the only reason you will want to evaluate foot traffic data.
Identifying pedestrian cycles gives you the information you need to optimize your operations. Whatever your sector, you will find a use for measuring traffic in the area. If you want a people counting software and hardware solution for your business, learn the best way to set it up for assessing the habits of those walking in your building.
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Why Collecting Foot Traffic Analytics Matters Across Industries
While most associate people counting with retail, this information is vital in multiple fields, including:
Non-Profits: Non-profit institutes can gather information about their popularity to best schedule staff and volunteers, making the most of these limited resources.
Warehouses: Identifying the most commonly used routes through doors of a warehouse can help you rearrange the design to prevent traffic jams that can slow the process of moving products.
Libraries: Instead of hiring a person to count patrons, having an automated system gives you more accurate data about people entering the library.
Malls: Foot traffic into a mall drastically impacts the profits of businesses inside. Identifying foot traffic trends can help improve security and advertising.
Retailers: You can gauge your marketing success by counting how many patrons enter your stores.
Restaurants: Identify trends in times and patrons and see whether they relate to special occasions, deals or other events. Foot traffic data can help you make server schedules, plan promotions and find ways to increase profits.
Urban Planning: Creating walkable neighborhoods requires urban planners to find out where people walk. Planners must know how to count pedestrians to decide how to lay out city areas.
Utility Managers: Determining times of peak occupancy at various points during the week and year can help you set more accurate HVAC schedules to maximize efficiency and comfort.
Casinos: Casino managers can change the layout of their gaming areas by inserting games or ATMs where people congregate. Also, staffing and security personnel schedules can adapt to more popular times.
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How you measure pedestrian traffic depends on what you will do with the data. Setting up hardware and software for the counting process automates things so you can save your workers’ time while gathering necessary information about foot traffic. Following these steps ensures you have a setup that will accurately count people.
1. Create Goals for Measuring Foot Traffic
If you want to know how to collect foot traffic data, you need to determine your goals before creating a data-gathering strategy. What you intend to do with the information will help you choose the best hardware for counting people. Will you be:
Entering People: Use a self-contained door counter to find out how many people pass the door during a given time.
Passing Pedestrians: Employ an outdoor counting sensor if you want to measure the number of pedestrians walking through a point.
Find Peak Traffic: Identifying peak traffic times or average length of visits requires you to install sensors that connect to people counting software.
These goals only account for some of the ends you could achieve through using sensors and software. If you have a different purpose for your business, decide what information you want to collect and use the data type and business entry points to determine the sensors you need — outdoor, thermal, video or bidirectional.
2. Identify Entry and Exit Points For Data Collection
Where do you want to count people? While this question seems straightforward, where you install the sensor will help you choose the right model for your project. Ask yourself these questions:
Do you need to know how often workers pass between buildings?
Is your goal to count the number of customers entering your business?
Does the number of people who leave an area matter?
Will the time of day affect your counting goals?
Do people move past the monitoring point in groups or individually?
Measure the entry and exit points where you want to install the sensors. Opening height and width determine how many sensors and the type you will need. The dimensions of the entryways, as well as the type of information you want to collect, will help you choose the best sensors for your people counting needs.
3. Select Traffic Counting Sensors
Consider how many entrances and exits you need to monitor to plan the number of people counting monitoring devices you need. Look at the entrance designs. Whether you have doors or an open walkway will make a difference in the sensors you use for that location.
You have two main choices for sensor position and two options for how they count. Horizontal sensors send a beam across an opening and count how many times it breaks. These may come in wireless or wired options. Overhead designs install in the ceiling and require wired network connections. These can be unidirectional or bidirectional counters. The former only counts the number of people passing through, regardless of direction. However, the latter distinguishes whether people enter or exit.
If you have a swinging door that opens outward, you can use a horizontal counter. Swinging doors that open inward can block the detection beam across people’s legs. The door funnels people through the entryway in single file, making the horizontal sensor more accurate. Ideally, only use horizontal beam devices across doorways of 15-feet wide or narrower.
For open entrances or extra-wide entry points where people can move in groups or stand in the opening, overhead sensors will give you a more accurate count. Depending on how high the ceiling is, you should plan to install at least one overhead sensor for every 11 feet of entrance width. Make sure you can get network cables and power to the overhead door sensors if you select a wired design. If your model requires a wired connection or power supply, factor that into the installation costs and time when planning.
4. Choose How You Will Store or Transmit Data
Again, ask yourself some questions:
How will the sensors store the data, or will they transmit it to a server?
Do you want someone to read the data and reset the counter manually?
Would you prefer the sensors send data to your people counting software over the network or via a data controller? The latter option gives you the flexibility to automate the data collection process.
Additionally, you can buy server space, so you don’t need to use your servers to host the information collected by the sensors. Using a hosting service for your data will help you keep the data organized, especially if you have multiple sensors around your facility or numerous buildings with sensors installed. For instance, our Traf-Sys hosting service combines information storage and reporting into a single solution to free you from managing the database or updating software.
5. Install Counting Sensors
To ensure accurate counts, you must install the sensors correctly. The type of sensor will dictate where you must set up the device. Guard the spacing between sensors, especially overhead models, to avoid double counting or missing people who pass through the entrance.
Horizontal counters fit inside a doorframe. Install these so the door opening does not interfere with the readings. You want to count people only, not how many times the door opens. Select a site in the doorframe, so the door opens away from the sensor and does not cross the path of the counting beam. These counters have two parts that must sit directly across from each other for the laser to work. Most horizontal sensors work on batteries, but if you want a wired model, verify that you have an electrical outlet near the installation site first.
Overhead people counters install inside the upper portion of the doorframe or in the ceiling. These devices typically require hardwiring into the network to get power and transmit data. Read the instructions to see if you must set the height in the sensor or install the device at a particular level. Also, review from the instructions whether you need to set the counter to measure unidirectionally or bidirectionally.
6. Set Up Foot Traffic Data Collection Procedures
Collecting data from your sensors depends on the type of monitors you have installed. If you have display-only counters, you will need to have one of your workers record the number each day and reset the total.
Should you prefer to have the data delivered from the sensors to your computer, you may need to add data controllers. These devices gather data from multiple sensors and can store it until you need to send it to your computer or upload to the network.
Other sensors have direct connections to the network and will upload the data to your server or a hosted server. If you choose this option, you will need network-connected sensors and a server set up to receive the data.
7. Begin Collecting Information on Foot Traffic
To collect information from base models of sensors, you will need to schedule checks of the devices to record the data and reset the counters. Checking your sensors throughout the day will help you break down the people counting data to shorter periods for more thorough information than once daily checks. Looking at these devices, especially soon after installation, gives you peace of mind that you put them into place correctly and they provide accurate information.
Even if you have a sensor that automatically uploads its data to a server, you still should check them regularly to ensure network connection and accurate people counting.
8. Analyze Foot Traffic Data
Raw data is challenging to use. You need analytical software to make sense of the information, especially if you have your sensors consistently collecting and transmitting the data.
Software, such as VisiCount, analyzes the information from your sensors and generates easy-to-understand reports. With flexible import and export options, you can give the software the information you need to read. Look over the information in a variety of formats — tables, graphs and drill down — to spot trends. See whether the day or time affected business. You can even examine if weather played a role in a rise or fall in foot traffic.
Scaling the data gives your business room to grow because you can increase the number of branches you monitor easily. Being able to examine various departments of your business can help you make decisions about:
Reports can aggregate data from multiple locations while still allowing you to access information from a particular branch or entrance. For instance, if you have a graph showing trends across all your sites, you can drill down through the data to get details for each facility. If you want to analyze the data from a single store, you can see information from each monitored entrance.
The software creates conversions, which tie the traffic information gathered into percentages to indicate the success of your business. For retailers, this means how many people entering purchased something. In libraries, it could correlate to how many people check out books. By looking over the data in terms of your business’s operations, you get a real-world means of seeing how the number of people entering affects your company.
Incorporating data hosting gives you a secure server for storing your sensor data and generating reports. With such a system, you never need to install software on a single computer. You have access to the information from anywhere, a boon to managers who travel or run multiple facilities. You also don’t have to worry about keeping your servers or managing databases to host your sensors’ information.
9. Make Decisions
Once you’ve reviewed the data analytics, you need to use them effectively. Without making changes based on the data gathered, you will not use the sensors to their fullest potential.
The data you collect will help you make decisions about worker schedules, facility layouts, marketing success and more. Foot traffic data will be valuable when determining the success of your operations. Look at conversions and how changes in your advertising or selling methods influence the numbers.
After making changes based on the people counting information you collected, continue using the sensors and software to determine if your changes create the desired results. The information you gather and review will only help you as much as you use it to improve operations.
A Complete People Counting System
Regardless of your business sector, you cannot forego gathering information about foot traffic. People counting software and hardware are now vital tools for any company. However, setting one of these systems up from scratch poses multiple problems with hardware compatibility and accuracy of data collection. Don’t try to piece together your counting system by cobbling hardware and software on your own.
Get professional help for your people counting needs from Traf-Sys. Speak to one of our trained experts in people counting systems to get the ideal solution for your facility’s needs. Our team of experts can work with you to create a system that will help meet your data goals. Contact our experts for a customized approach to evaluating pedestrian traffic flow for your business.
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 Museum Visitor Experience 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 Museum 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.
Utilize Social Media to Engage Museum Visitors
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 for Museums
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 Museum Traffic Flow With People Counters
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.
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.
Start improving your museum experience with people counters from Traf-Sys. Get a free quote today!