Tourism Wayfinding Research Centre
Wayfinding is not specific to tourism but given the nature of travel, wayfinding is something that is inevitably a part of every holiday, business trip, backpacking journey and every road trip. This area of study is largely about getting from one point to another but can also often be for pleasure i.e. exploration (whereby there is no specific route you need to navigate). Local businesses, governments and other providers might though wish to try and still guide and influence your route for commercial reasons, for security and safety issues, or for control considerations (i.e. in customs and passport control in airports). Imagine walking around central London as a tourist, shopping, and with no exact planned route. Even with no planned route, you are most likely still being guided and influenced by city planners and those in control of signage, modal points and markers.
Outside of tourism, wayfinding becomes important in many situations and places. A university might be planning a new annexe and given the number of students and visitors who will need to access and navigate the building on a daily basis, good signage, markers and other planning can be essential to effective people flow and for safety. A hospital faces the need for effective wayfinding, particularly with the cognitive nature of this field and the emotional turmoil which many hospital visitors may be experiencing. This makes this field of expertise particularly interesting in spatially fixed areas and this site is focused on this field of study but specific to the travel industry.
Similar to the non-tourism example of hospitals, spatiality becomes very interesting in the instance of cruise line travel. Cruise ships have a definite space with which to work, as opposed to land based destinations. The boat is the accommodation, the entertainment centre, the restaurants and a destination in its own right. Colour coding, lighting, clever use of space and carefully planned signage all combine to make wayfinding a well planned activity in cruise tourism.
Semiotics is one field of study which is considered to be the ‘study of signs’ although the exact description of signs can vary greatly in academia. Signs can be taken very literally and mean a sign in terms of the symbolic. Literally any communication can be considered a form of sign. Wayfinding hence covers many disciplines including semiotics, architecture, psychology, urban planning, communication studies and several other fields.
On this site we cover the latest mobile wayfinding technologies, digital signage and the industry events (let us know if you are holding a related event in the UK or worldwide), the way in which technology is changing the nature of this industry and everything going on in the world of travel signage and wayfinding. We would love to hear from you if you have any questions, comments or helpful information.