I recently visited my youngest brother, who lives in Dubuque,IA, and was impressed by the ease to navigate the city without having to ask for directions to find some of that city's key attractions. Dubuque, which is about the same size as Eau Claire, has received numerous national awards for its downtown revitalization efforts. One of the unique amenities that helped Dubuque earn those honors was due to the signage that allowed me to find what I was looking for - especially when it reminded me that some of the downtown business district included one-way traffic.
"Wayfinding' has been the latest buzz word in the signage industry. Airports, health care facilities and municipalities have found that the customer experience is enhanced if information is consistent to allow visitors and/or patrons find their way with signage that is either color-coded or has a logo or icon that identifies parks, attractions, popular destination points or provides simple directions.
The Chippewa Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau has attempted to implement a Wayfinding program in the area for about the past seven years, but to no avail. Certainly, the cost to implement a more effective regional signage program to assist visitors would be expensive. But the major problem is that area municipalities have not been able to reach a consensus on the design of the signage and which locations and attractions to include in the program.
"Wayfinding signs are more than directional signs. They are specially designed to shape the visitor experience through simple, identifiable and consistent navigation information. Wayfinding signs can help create a welcoming first impression as visitors exit highways into our area, as much as help guide them to our local attractions, historic districts, parks and more," said Chippewa Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Adler.
Members of the Chippewa Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau already spend a lot of money to advertise their business, pay dues to the organization and support other initiatives that assist with attracting more people to the region. In the Fox River Valley, a regional Wayfinding program has been in place that was solely paid for by the businesses who benefit most from tourism.
As a member of the Chippewa Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, I would definitely donate money to a regional signage program that informs visitors what this area has to offer - and reminds unfamiliar motorists that downtown Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls has some one-way streets as well.