T’was the Night before RT: Signage!

RT hasn't officially started yet, but I was here today to speak at the Mid-American Library Alliance conference on romance. Today, after having breakfast, I noticed the preparations had begun in the Sheraton lobby: EPIC SIGNAGE. Everywhere!

And these signs are not easy to put up, either. Have a look: 

A gentleman putting the adhesive elevator sign up on the glass sidewalls of the elevator

Everywhere, there are signs going up. Walls, elevator doors, windows. Seriously, everywhere. If it's not moving, you can stick a sign on it. 

More signage on the elevator walls


Window panels showing Jude Deveraux, Bertrice Small, and Janelle Taylor



Avon Impulse and Morrow New Adult, and at the top it says Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

I'm not sure what Avon Impulse has to do with finding out who you are and doing so on purpose, but regardless, these panels are so brightly colored you can see them clear across the lobby – which is pretty freaking huge.

ETA: I have learned! That's a line from a country song. The More You Know! 


Elevator doors branded with Heather Graham image and books

The elevator door banners are really neat – and the application process is a tricky one. The back of the image is adhesive, so the person applying it shuts the elevator doors, turns off that elevator, and smoothes it on to the doors in about 12-18″ lateral sections using a flat blade and then a pin to prick any air bubbles. The goal is not to have any bubbles, though. Then, the image is sliced to allow the doors to open – that's the crucial part, I imagine. 


Samhain Publishing Elevator Image


Some of the banner ads, like this one for Samhain, are really eyecatching. And hey, what better captive audience than conference attendees waiting for elevators, right? We wait for elevators a lot! Let's book shop while we do it!

I talked to the gentleman applying the Sylvia Day banners to the escalators, and he told me a lot about the application process, which is time consuming and requires a good amount of patience and skill. He was popping any tiny air bubbles out of the escalator banners for a long while, since he has to bend over the railing to apply the image then work any tiny pockets of air out.

I thought this aspect of the conference preparation was really cool, so I interviewed both the gentleman doing the application, and Kathy Hamilton-Dix, who runs Print Surfaces, based in Fairway, Kansas. Here they are: 

Two signage contractors posing with banner in progress


If you're not into the behind-the-scenes prep stuff, this probably won't be of much interest, but I found the process, which was very slowly unfolding while I ate breakfast and caffeinated, completely fascinating. 

PrintSurfaces, Ms. Hamilton-Dix's company, does the signage for many conferences at the Sheraton, and has done work at the Westin, too. She did the signage for the 2012 All-Star Game, and does other events and vehicle signage wraps, as well. She showed me a picture of a sign that went all the way up the main escalators with images of storms, lightining, rain and clouds going down the side, and it was SO cool looking.

The gentleman who was applying the signs – and I didn't get his name down correctly and don't want to quote him without firm permission to use his name (Sir, you were awesome and thank you)  told me that the clings all take about 1.5 to 2 days to apply to different lobby surfaces, and after the conference they're disposed of. They aren't really meant for multiple usage. The signage areas for RT includes the escalators, the elevator doors, and the windows on the second level of the lobby, and they had a lot of work ahead of them. 

Ms. Hamilton-Dix told me that the signage is important to conferences because the goal is the make the client feel that the hotel is branded with their name and image. So not only do attendees see the Sheraton name in the lobby, and see the RT signs, but they'll see Sylvia Day's name, Avon's name, Avon Impulse, Heather Graham, Lora Leigh, Samhain, and many other author-branded elevator signs (some of which weren't up yet).

The degree to which attendees of other conferences mention the signage to the hotel indicates to Ms. Hamilton-Dix the success of the placement of all the images. The signage, especially on elevators and escalators, makes a big impression. It's a pretty specialized printing process from what I could tell, too. 

What I found most fascinating was that there is no expectation of quantifying the use and success of the signs. There's no way to tell if the signs create sales, or translate into copies sold. They're about brand recognition and brand identity, and the very important repeat impression. Much like there's no way of knowing how many people see a car wrapped in a company's advertisement and do something, there's no way to tell how many people will see the signs and go chase more information. There's no way absolute way of knowing if a sign creates a sale. It's an interesting contrast to, for example, web advertisements, where impressions, click throughs and percentages are all part of the statistical reporting. 

Yet the presence of so many romance author and romance publisher brands on visible surfaces where people are walking and waiting not only makes a visible impression for those brands, but also unifies the presence of the conference. Not only is RT a presence here, but the publishers and major authors attending are hugely visible elements of the lobby. The more the signs went up, the more it seemed that RT was taking over the Sheraton lobby. 

And come tomorrow night and Wednesday, we literally will take over the lobby (and the bar), and the signs go a long way to demonstrating that this is Our Space. This is our conference, and our turf for the week.

I'll be posting more about the conference, but I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at some of the preparatory work. If you're coming to RT, this is clearly our lobby – and I hope you have a terrific time at the conference. Thanks to Ms. Hamilton-Dix for answering my completely n00bish questions, and to her contractors who were equally patient with me. 


Romantic Times

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  1. 1
    library addict says:

    That is interesting. Thanks.

  2. 2
    Lindsay says:

    This is fantastic, thank you for sharing and taking the time to talk with the folks doing this! The signs are definitely eye-catching, and you’re right—it really turns it from just a hotel/convention centre to “our space”.

  3. 3
    hapax says:

    Isn’t it odd?  The descriptions of author chats, infinite swag, costume balls, etc., have not given me the slightest urge to visit an RT conference (okay, well, maybe the costumes … a little); but one brief article on popping air bubbles out of escalator clings—and now I really wish I could go.

  4. 4
    Becky says:

    Now I’m going to have to make sure I go up to the hotel and tell them how wonderful the signs are. Everything looks fantastic. Can’t wait to get to my first RT!

  5. 5
    cayenne says:

    These are really great signs; I hope someone will post more pics once they’re all up. 

    With respect to these signs creating sales: I would say that they probably won’t, given where they are posted (disclosure: I’m a media planner/buyer in RL).  Since it’s a convention mostly attended by writers and other industry professionals,  the ads aren’t really aimed at the general public, and are probably there to celebrate and support the authors and their books.  I suppose they could stimulate more orders by booksellers, but having never attended RT, I wouldn’t know if booksellers attend for that reason.

    Still, they may also be samples of upcoming mass and trade marketing campaigns.  Many of those decals are quite pricey to do as one-offs – installation is a mofo, as Sarah noted above – so it’s possible that variants of the elevator & escalator ads will appear later on in major market office buildings, malls, and transit systems. 

    Re the question in the article about translating mass impressions to sales: It’s true it’s not like online, where you can track click to sale, if properly tagged & pixeled; there is the lag and potential disconnect between a consumer’s seeing a mass ad on TV or a billboard and making a purchase.  Moreover, if you ask a consumer if one of those ad vehicles had an impact on their purchase decision-making process, they’ll deny it out the yin-yang, claiming they’re deaf and blind to advertising blah blah independent thinker-cakes.  In reality, every marketer can and does correlate their mass media flights dates to sales lift, so it’s clear consumers are being influenced by advertising.

    I hope everyone has a fantastic time at RT!

  6. 6
    laj says:


    I wish I was going, I feel starstruck when thinking about the book signing! What is so funny is that I live in SoCal and see celebs often, even the occasional Clooney sighting, but meeting or even just seeing some of the authors that are attending gets my “fangirl” meter going full tilt.

    Have fun and PLEASE take a ton of photos for the folks at home.

  7. 7
    Liz Sypko says:

    Thank you for an awesome presentation yesterday at the “Romance Comes to Kansas City” workshop.

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