How to use indoor mapping to optimise the guest experience at your indoor attraction

Navigating the digital map market in search of powerful indoor wayfinding is a challenge. Read on to find out how our Indoor Mapping feature takes navigation to new levels in this article.
Adam Catterall
April 2024

Working with some of the world’s leading attractions like Alton Towers, San Diego Zoo, and the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, we know that maps play an important role in enhancing the on-site guest experience. A fully branded, intuitively designed map equipped with interactive wayfinding means less time getting lost and allows guests to pack more into their time with you.

We’ve been working on our first-in-class mapping engine for over a decade, helping location-based businesses provide a seamless navigation experience for their guests. But, our focus has always been on attractions with large open outdoor spaces. It’s time for us to take things to new levels, quite literally, with Indoor Mapping.

Tackling the problem with indoor maps

Think back to your last museum, resort, or even shopping mall visit. What navigation tools were on offer to you? Were they useful?

According to research from the University of Reading, nearly 90% of museum-goers have used a map to improve their on-site experience. For real-world experiences that take place in complex indoor environments, maps play a critical role in the guest experience. Out of those same survey respondents:

  • 77% use maps to find specific exhibits or displays.
  • 69% use them for locating facilities like toilets or cafes.
  • 51% use them to plan a route to see everything they want to see.

Often indoor attractions rely on printed maps or static information boards to help guests make their way around. Presenting information this way has its uses, but it falls short of the expectations of modern guests. Here’s why:

  • They’re not interactive. It’s difficult for guests to understand their surroundings or create routes without some level of interactivity. Smartphone-wielding guests expect this functionality, as that’s what they’re used to in other areas of their lives.
  • They’re difficult to read. These information boards aren’t always clear, making navigation tricky. They often lack recognisable points of interest, and don’t always clearly mark where the guest is to begin with.
  • They’re not readily available. You might have a handful of these map boards around your attraction, or you might just have one. Forcing your guests to find the nearest map board or pamphlet stand before solving their navigation problems adds further inconvenience.

Indoor navigation is quite a challenge. It’s much harder to pinpoint guests location in an inside space, as GPS positioning is unreliable. Using RFID or triangulation methods can get confusing quickly. Plus, indoor spaces are usually complex environments, with countless details to consider in a confined space. 

Many museums try to combat the desire for digital by offering PDF maps as downloads on their website. This solves part of the problem, but still doesn’t offer the level of interactivity that guests of younger generations expect. So, what’s the solution?

Introducing Indoor Mapping

We originally built our mapping engine for one simple reason: there wasn’t anything on the market that did what we needed it to do. So, we set our engineers to work on creating a powerful digital mapping solution complete with interactive wayfinding that was purpose-built for the attractions industry. Since then, leading theme parks and zoos—including Alton Towers, Cedar Fair, and San Diego Zoo—have trusted us to provide best-in-class navigation for their guests.

Up to now, we have focused on supporting attractions with large outdoor spaces and  helping guests find their way to specific points of interest across acres of land. Cultural attractions were facing similar issues, and often suffering more because guests have no landmarks to use like there are at outdoor attractions. Confined spaces make navigation doubly difficult, and so we put our heads together to bring a solution to indoor attractions. indoor mapping technology

How does it work?

Our indoor maps work on the principle of providing a multi-level experience. Typically, digital maps have one terrain layer that shows potential routes and 2D details. We’ve taken this further by adding multiple terrain layers to make up the different floors of a building. They’re stacked on top of each other, and you can flick through them at the tap of a button. The benefit of this is:

  • You can clearly distinguish between different floors. The multiple terrain layers essentially gives the guest a miniature map of every floor, giving them a clear and detailed view of the entire layout of the building.
  • It provides a better visual representation of how the floors connect. As you flick between floors, you can see where stairs emerge from, where a lift will open to etc. It equips you with a better understanding of how the building works.
  • You can have as many levels as you need, whether it’s just a single floor for an indoor space at a zoo, or 20+ floors in a resort’s hotel. The way we’ve created the functionality means regardless of the number of floors you have, your guests can still clearly understand their surroundings.

But what does this mean for guests? Well, when a new guest downloads your mobile app, they can tap the map to interact with it. From there, they can select the floor they want to see using a button on the bottom right of their screen.

Around the map, they’ll see points of interest (such as your restaurant, cafe, cloakroom etc) which they can tap to see more information. They can also start a wayfinding route to these points of interest, either from their current location, or from another point of interest. These routes can be adjusted based on the guest’s needs and they can choose to avoid unsuitable routes if they have accessibility issues, such as avoiding stairs.

How easy is it for guests to use?

Digital maps are widespread these days. In fact, 41% of smartphone owners have used Google Maps in the last week—which is doubly impressive when you consider there are nearly seven billion smartphones in the world. It’s safe to say modern guests are familiar with digital maps.

Our Indoor Mapping solution aims to extend what users are comfortable with and transfer the same functionality from outdoor digital maps to the inside. Guests can rotate, zoom, and tilt the map and use interactive wayfinding in exactly the same way as they would to get to an outdoor destination.

Can we use our own branding?

Definitely! We’ve designed all of our mapping technology to be entirely white-labelled, so you can truly make it your own. Our Indoor Mapping feature is no exception. 

You can add your brands colours and imagery into your maps’ design, focusing on everything that makes your attraction unique. From there, you can design your own points of interest to and tailor the mapping experience for your guests.

Does it work for outdoor attractions with on-site buildings?

Absolutely! We’ve developed this technology initially by working with large outdoor attractions like theme parks and zoos. One of our main goals was to provide a seamless transition for guests as they move between indoor and outdoor spaces. 

For example, say you’re a zoo with an aquarium. Obviously, your smaller sea life enclosures are going to be predominantly inside. As your guests explore your park, they might go straight from your sprawling African lion enclosures outside, to going inside to see your Japanese spider crabs. Our digital maps with Indoor Mapping enabled will recognise when your guests are near (or hovering over) a building. Then, on their map, the roof will disappear and reveal what’s inside to the guest. They’ll then have the option to view different floors will appear in the exact same way it would for a fully indoor attraction.

Take your attraction’s navigation to new levels

With Indoor Mapping, we’re trying to solve more of the attraction industry’s problems and open up further avenues to heighten guest experiences. We’ll be continuously improving and refining our mapping engine as the needs of the industry shift, so keep an eye out for new things coming your way.

If you’re an indoor attraction looking for the perfect way to deliver your map, get in touch with us to book a discovery session. We’ll go over your requirements and show you how our mapping solutions can help.

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Adam Catterall

Roller coaster buff and black belt content writer
April 2024
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