Auditing your local area’s tourist signs

Audit the signs on your local roads to understand the experience of a motorist as they move through your area.

Your audit should include all commercial signing, including property business signing. You may choose to exclude regulatory signs, as they are installed for motorist safety and management. Tourism and services signs are considered to be discretionary signing.

Effective audits of road signs – how to

Audits should be conducted in sections that reflect how most consumers experience the road network, rather than in individual streets/roads. If a motoring visitor typically accesses a town’s centre from the highway via Black Street, then by turning right into White Street, then this is often the most informative way to audit.

Rather than a simple visual reconnaissance, your audit should be comprehensive and include written and photographic details of signs because this method isolates the signs from other distractions and can better highlight issues. This approach helps roads staff to clearly identify which signs need to be removed or replaced. GPS locations provide even greater accuracy.

Audits should be conduced for both directions of travel, although signs on the right-hand side of the road should be included in the left-hand audit, if they are clearly visible to the traveller in the left carriageway.

Operator collateral audits

Tourism operators often see roadside tourist signs as marketing. Some rely almost exclusively on them to communicate with potential customers, and neglect other avenues, such as brochures and websites.

A road sign is the final link in the communication chain between a tourism business and their public. It should provide reassurance of directional instructions, which should already have been communicated to the traveller by the business operator.

It’s a useful auditing exercise to review marketing material prepared by local tourism operators. Check to see that they include clear navigational instructions, and a map. Check for use of the alpha-numeric designators or road names used by the road authority on their directional signs, as this is often the simplest and clearest way to direct people.

Armed with such information, it may then be worthwhile running an awareness campaign in the local industry to highlight the importance of including good navigational instructions in marketing materials.