Posted by: communicationcloud | December 18, 2009

Learning support … in hotel navigation

I’m one of those people with a fairly limited sense of direction, particularly in big buildings, so whenever I stay in a hotel it takes a couple of days for me to be able to find my way to my room in a direct way. So I was pleased during a recent hotel stay when the staff went out of their way to help with this.

The hotel in question was one of those big places that’s been created out of a few old buildings, so there are multiple staircases, and hallways that look nearly identical but are actually symmetrical. To make things worse, the rooms don’t have numbers: they have names that do nothing to help work out even what floor they’re on. In short, exactly the sort of place where my chances of finding my way to my room without a detour are minimal.

When I arrived, one of the staff took me to my room. Through a door, up in the lift, up some stairs, through a couple of doors, and down a hallway to my designated, unhelpfully named room. I settled in and then went out for dinner and a drink.

At the end of the day, it should have been really tricky to get back… but it wasn’t. While the staff member was showing me to my room, she’d talked me through the journey: take the door to the left … 2nd floor … turn left … up the staircase … your room is the last one on the right. I hadn’t taken much notice at the time – just assumed this was her way of making conversation with new arrivals – but as I made my way to bed, I realised this was much cleverer than that: she’d actually given me what I needed to navigate, and as I repeated the journey her directions came straight back to me, and I made it all the way to my room with no hesitation or wrong turns at all.

Nice piece of navigational learning support!



  1. A good example of wayfinding in action! Staff training is one of the three vital elements, the other two being signage and environmental cues.

    Signage speaks for itself (although there is a lot of research and science behind what makes the perfect sign) and environmental cues can include colour coded hallways and replicas of famous works of art at junctions. “Follow the red hallway, then turn right at Mona Lisa”.

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