Fostering digital engagement with visual design

How can venues make the most of their offline environments to foster digital engagement?

Fostering in-venue digital engagement with visual design

The lines between online and offline retail experiences are becoming increasingly blurred. Retailers can track offline purchases from online interactions across multiple devices and Amazon, well, they are doing what Amazon does best, disrupting retail with technology.

Interestingly, the trend appears to be crossing over to hospitality. Restaurants, cafes and hotels are looking to their digital strategists and technology directors to differentiate their brands in the battle for millennial loyalty.

The trouble with in-venue digital engagement is that cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels are traditionally offline-only environments. It is only in the past ten to fifteen years, with the rise of Wi-Fi, social media and now mobile ordering, has it become almost the norm to consume digital content in a hospitality venue.

How then can venues make the most of their offline environments to foster, digital engagement?


In the eyes of many millennial travellers, your venue is rated using a metric you may be entirely unaware of, its instagramability. Unfortunately, there is no official term yet, but it is in a sense how photogenic or atheistically pleasing your venue is to Instagram users.

The holy grail for instagramability within hospitality is regularly featuring in the top nine posts for a travel destination or location on Instagram. If your venue is consistently in the top nine posts for a particular destination, it can drive a lot of footfall and reservations. Naturally, this is shaping both architectural and interior design in venues where digital engagement is a KPI.

Creating instagrammable moments is “now part of architectural briefs” says architect, Farshid Moussavi.

Here are two examples of ‘instagrammable’ venues:

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A post shared by Kamandalu Ubud (@kamandalu) on

Pictured above is Kamandalu Ubud, a resort in Bali which has grown a following of 130,000 on their Instagram profile. The resort features heavily in the Ubud, Bali feed on Instagram.

However, you do not need a tropical backdrop. EL&N Cafe in London, pictured below, has grown a following of 282,000 using their pink interior.

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A post shared by EL&N London (@elan_cafe) on


One option for venues looking to exploit this trend further is to build interactive elements into their interior design.

One way of achieving this is through customisable, QR codes. The QR code is experiencing a resurgence worldwide thanks to widespread adoption in China and Asia for mobile payments. Developers can now incorporate colours, gradients, abstract shapes and even images or logos into their QR codes.

While we are yet to find a good example, it will not be long before an innovative café, bar or hotel, integrate heavily customised QR codes into its interior design, in the floor tiles, a wall mural or even a 3D structural feature, pointing camera-happy millennials to their social media profile, or even mobile ordering menu.

What’s next?

Sodyo is one of a few companies building the next generation of interactive scanning technology. The obvious drawback with these at the moment is the lack of native support in mobile devices; users need to download an app to scan these next-generation codes. However, assuming that iOS and Android adopt them, they could allow consumers to transition between the offline and online realms seamlessly. For example, Sodyo’s codes can be scanned from much greater distances, moving objects and digital displays.

There is no doubt that the next generation of QR codes and/or NFC technology will be vital in transitioning consumers into augmented or virtual reality environments.

To learn more about how your hospitality brand can engage with millennials through wi-Q, a cloud-based mobile ordering and digital guest engagement platform, please Get in Touch.

Image credit: Safehouse Coffee, Toronto

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