64°Clear

by ARLnow.com August 3, 2017 at 8:05 pm 0

Update at 2:40 p.m. on 8/7/17 — Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said in a statement to ARLnow: “ACPD is aware that driverless vehicles are being tested in the Commonwealth. Officers have not had contact with the vehicle observed in Clarendon. If officers observe a traffic violation, they will attempt a traffic stop.”

Update at 1:30 p.m. on 8/7/17 — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss, working on a follow-up story to this article, spotted the van driving around Clarendon on Monday, Aug. 7, and upon further inspection found a driver — disguised as a seat. Police were called after the driver ran a red light but officers were unable to locate the van, according to scanner traffic. Tuss’ report is expected to air Monday night.

Earlier: A mysterious, seemingly driverless van was spotted cruising the streets of Arlington’s Courthouse and Clarendon neighborhoods Thursday evening.

The unmarked gray van with Virginia license plates drove up and down Wilson and Clarendon Blvds more than a half dozen times — with no one in the driver’s seat or passenger seat. The rear windows of the Ford Transit Connect van were darkly tinted.

The van appeared to drive cautiously but keep up with traffic. Cameras and a light bar could be seen behind the windshield.

When the car stopped at a red light, the light bar started blinking. When the signal turned green and the car started driving, the blinking stopped.

The lack of a driver went mostly unnoticed as Clarendon residents went around their after-work routines near the Metro station, though occasionally people could be seen pointing at the car or asking someone nearby if they saw a driver.

Spokespeople for Arlington County, the Arlington County Police Department, VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration did not have any immediate knowledge of any autonomous vehicle testing on the streets of Arlington.

VDOT and FHWA recently announced that Virginia Tech would be conducting automated vehicle testing along I-95, I-495, I-66, Route 50 and Route 29. The announcement did not mention testing on primary streets along Metro corridors, however WTOP reported in May that “self-driving cars already on Virginia roads, even if you don’t realize it.”

“In Virginia, it’s a little bit more discreet, so companies could test in real-world environments and you wouldn’t even know, so we have some proprietary studies going that route,” a Virginia Tech researcher was quoted as saying.

Anne Deekens, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, declined to say whether it belongs to the university. “I have no comment at this time,” she said.

by ARLnow.com August 3, 2017 at 6:15 pm 0

(Update at 8:10 p.m.) A storm packing torrential rain, hail, thunder, lightning and strong wind gusts rolled through Arlington Thursday evening.

As of 8 p.m., nearly 2,600 Dominion customers in Arlington were still without power, according to the utility’s website. The primary outage is located along Lee Highway, between East Falls Church and N. Harrison Street, where downed trees and power lines were reported.

The outage prompted the Lee Highway location of District Taco to temporarily close, according to the restaurant’s Twitter account.

Here's a view of Wednesday's crazy thunderstorm from our office in Clarendon

Posted by ARLnow.com on Thursday, August 3, 2017

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 3, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

2720 S. Arlington Mill Dr, Unit 1010
Neighborhood: Shirlington
Listed: $555,000
Open: Sunday, August 6 from 1-4 p.m.

Located in the heart of Shirlington Village, this rarely available 2 BR/2BA corner condo is one of only 7 in the building.

In addition to the 10′ ceilings, there are balconies on the south and west sides which make this a wonderfully sunny, airy and spacious home. Other features include wood floors in all living areas, granite counters, and fresh paint throughout, and 1 garage parking space. The building itself has onsite management, an outdoor pool, library with free internet, a party room, and a well equipped exercise room. This is one of only 159 condos in the village itself.

Shirlington Village is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Arlington where you can have the benefits of urban living and yet be surrounded by parkland,  bike paths and a nearby dog park. The AMC cinema and Signature Theatre, in addition to several restaurants cafes and the 24-hour Harris Teeter market, are all located within the village.

This is an easy commute to Washington, the Pentagon, and Reagan National Airport via buses or by car.

Listed by:

Ginger Harden, Realtor
The Bryan Group Real Estate
1934 Old Gallows Rd. Suite 350
Vienna, VA 22812
(cell) 703-963-5440
www.gingerharden.com

by Brooke Giles August 3, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

National nonprofit For The Love Of Others and the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity are hosting a free lunch for those in need this Saturday at Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang Street).

The goal of the event is to give out 650 meals between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in an effort to help those who struggle with food insecurity. No reservations are required.

For The Love Of Others provides food drives across the country, and participates in other giving events to “empower, enrich and enhance the lives of people from all backgrounds through providing opportunities to enable them to live a purposeful life.”

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first black intercollegiate fraternity in the country, partners with organizations that are in keeping with the fraternity’s motto of “First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All” — promoting brotherhood while providing service in the community.

“The fraternity stands on the motto of manly deeds, scholarship and love for all mankind,” said David M. Preston, a local fraternity member who is helping with the event. “We wanted to partner with an organization that has the vision and the goal of service to the community that is when we partnered with For The Love Of Others.”

by Chris Teale August 3, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Casual Adventure will be open until at least Christmas, after it signed a new short-term lease on its Virginia Square building.

Owner Eric Stern said he and his staff requested the extension from property owner 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to local custom home builder BCN Homes.

The pair then agreed on the extension, in part, Stern said, because new development in the area is taking a “little bit longer than originally anticipated.”

“We’ve had a great business relationship, and we were able to extend at least for the time being,” he said. “Then we’ll figure things out from there.”

The long-time outdoor retailer had been set to close its 3451 Washington Blvd location this spring after 61 years in business. It first announced its closure in April and subsequently held an “End of an Era Sale” with large discounts.

Stern said the influx of customers and outpouring of sadness at the store’s closing showed there is still “an obvious need or want for us in this space.”

“The general support from the public has been overwhelming in a positive way,” he said. “I certainly appreciate everybody who’s come in and shared their stories of the trips they’ve taken over the years, the products they’ve bought from us over the years and the photos they’ve had from their trips.”

Casual Adventure is currently holding a summer clearance sale with merchandise marked down as much as 70 percent. Stern said fall items will start arriving shortly.

Hat tip to Buzz McClain

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Department of Public Safety Communications & Emergency Management.

It’s no secret that kids change your life. From the time they are born, you plan differently: you start to schedule your errands and activities around naps, feedings, and bed time.

You carry a diaper bag because your kid needs special equipment:  bottles, toys, diapers, and you gather kid-specific information: what diaper rash looks like and what kind of fever needs immediate medical attention. Your child creates “special considerations” for almost any situation, and that includes disaster planning.

Kids are affected by disasters differently than adults

Kids have unique needs during emergencies. They are almost entirely reliant on caregivers, and that means they’ll be looking to parents and guardians to react to what’s going on. That person will become responsible for responding to a child’s:

  • Nutritional needs: Kids require more fluid than adults so keeping them hydrated is a priority. They can be picky eaters, so finding acceptable food items can be difficult. Although you may eat cold canned beans during a power outage, there’s no guarantee your child will.
  • Physical needs: Children are smaller and less developed, and this puts them at greater risk for illness and injury during a disaster. For instance, they have thinner skin and take more breaths per minute, which means they get cooler faster and require more clothing to stay warm.
  • Emotional needs: Children have limited coping skills and can be strongly affected by the emotional discord during a disaster. They will react to their caregiver’s stress. They need specialized support for healing and recovery.

Kids need special plans

During the day, 68 million children are separated from their parents, for the very normal reason of “work.” During a disaster, reuniting them with a caregiver is the first priority because that person will understand their child’s unique needs the best. Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re reunited with your child quickly:

  • Know the contact information and emergency procedures for your child’s school or day care facility.
  • Designate a meet up location if your family is separated (i.e., in the case of a house fire, we’re going to meet at Ms. Claire’s house across the street.)
  • Identify which trusted neighbors and friends can pick up your child from their care facility in case you can’t get to them. 

Kids need different stuff

If you have kids, make sure you stock up on:

  • Diapers, pull ups, and wipes
  • Nursing supplies and/or formula
  • Pre-packaged baby food, juice pouches and dry cereal snacks
  • Fever reducers & Rash ointments
  • A way to carry a non-walking child (stroller, harness, wrap, backpack, etc.)
  • Activities, games, books, and toys
  • Comfort items like stuffed animals and blankets.

What do kids need to know?

Talking to your children about disasters is difficult and can be scary. But don’t let fear get in the way of ensuring your child has the information he or she may need to help themselves during an emergency. You can spread out these conversations over time so your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed, but your child will feel safer knowing what actions they can take and that adults are ready to protect them. Make sure they know:

  • Basic personal information (first name, last name, etc.) to identify themselves if they become separated from you.
  • The phone number of a parent.
  • How to dial 9-1-1.
  • Where they can meet their family if the disaster effects their home.
  • Who is allowed to pick them up from school or day care.

After Hurricane Katrina, it took six months to reunite the last child with her family. Taking these steps could help prevent that happening here.

by Mark Kelly August 3, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ever been in your neighborhood grocery store and had to explain to a parent why their child will be switching schools next year because you voted to move an invisible boundary? If you have, you probably are, or were, on the school board.

Parents are, rightly, protective of their kids. Decisions about what happens in our schools is taken seriously, and changes can impact people on a very personal level.

It may be the job of the school board member to make those decisions, but it is not always an easy one. And on the tough calls, you almost certainly will be faced with heated dissent which may not be confined to the board room.

Right now, Arlington is in the painful process of redrawing its school boundaries and making difficult decisions on locating new schools. But hopefully our board members, parents and the community at large are looking well beyond seats for students.

What goes on inside the classroom is far more important than how old that classroom is or which school building it is in.

Our American education system is designed on a foundation from over half-century ago, built to prepare kids for an economy that is far in the rear view mirror.

We need elected leaders who are thinking about preparing kids in a way that does not just conform to the top-down models of the past. And, we should never make it a default position that a traditional four year college program is the next step for every student.

There are positive signs. Arlington Tech represents a new approach for high school students. The year-old school is encouraging students to tackle real world problem solving skills while integrating core curriculum.

We can and should get beyond infrastructure decisions and continue to look for new approaches to meet the needs of our student population. We have the resources here in Arlington to be a leader in the education system of the future.

by Peter Rousselot August 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Peter RousselotPeter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

A close Redskins watcher says Virginia is the most likely site for a new Redskins stadium because team President Bruce Allen has “significant personal ties at the highest levels of the Virginia government,” and the amount of public financing for a new stadium will be the “single most important factor” in site selection.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is “vigorously pursuing” the stadium. On July 27, McAulliffe renewed his lobbying of Redskins owner Dan Snyder:

“We’ve laid everything out and served it up beautifully,” McAuliffe said …. McAuliffe pivoted to the latest method of financing massive NFL projects in which a stadium is part of a vast retail, shopping and hotel complex, by relying on development funds (in addition to considerable tax breaks) to foot the bill….

Football stadiums do not spur significant economic growth

The evidence is overwhelming that subsidizing the construction of a new Redskins stadium will never be in the best interests of Virginia taxpayers:

Roger Noll, an economist who studies sports-stadium subsidies at Stanford University, says he has never witnessed the construction of a football stadium that has had a significant positive impact on the local economy.

Direct costs far outweigh the benefits

A very extensive study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City found that a typical stadium costs taxpayers more than four times more than any long-term benefits from jobs and tax revenues:

Proponents of using public funds to finance stadium construction argue that the benefits from increased economic activity and increased tax revenue collection exceed the public outlays. But independent economic studies universally find such benefits to be much smaller than claimed.

Opportunity costs further tilt the balance against taxpayer funding

The costs of a new Virginia stadium for the Redskins are even higher when you factor in the opportunity costs. Virginia tax dollars spent on such a stadium are tax dollars that could have been spent to:

  • fund Virginia’s state share of a new dedicated funding stream for Metro
  • redress some of the many remaining critical deficiencies in Virginia’s mental health facilities
  • help bring high-speed broadband to rural areas of Virginia that currently lack it
  • expand Virginia’s Medicaid program

These are only four of hundreds of more deserving needs.

Dan Snyder doesn’t need the money

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is a billionaire who doesn’t need a public hand out. Any Virginia tax dollars for a new Redskins stadium will go directly into Dan Snyder’s pockets.

A 2003 study by a member of the University of Texas economics department documented that a new stadium increases:

  • team profits by an average of $13 million annually
  • payroll salaries by $14 million annually
  • team book value by $90 million

All these numbers are likely to be much higher in 2017.

Conclusion

I admire McAuliffe for his tireless work to promote economic development in Virginia. But, Virginia should not offer to give Dan Snyder either “development funds” or “considerable tax breaks.”

Nothing related to the stadium should be subsidized by Virginia taxpayers. Dan Snyder should arrange 100% private financing. Under these conditions, Snyder could build his stadium in Virginia if he could find a welcoming local government.

Seattle Seahawks all-star cornerback Richard Sherman gets it: “I’d stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums…and maybe make the billionaires who actually benefit from the stadiums pay for them.”

by Progressive Voice August 3, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Matt de Ferranti

In recent months, this column has highlighted a positive, progressive agenda advanced by the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee. We now turn to county-level issues.

Schools, Metro and transportation, housing affordability, parks and open space and Arlington’s Energy Plan are all important issues worth discussing in detail.

I believe each is linked to economic opportunity, so that’s where I begin.

Economic Opportunity in Arlington is Strong: At our county’s core, just like our country’s, is the idea that the American Dream is achievable for those who work hard. By that standard — how achievable is the American Dream — Arlington is a great place to live.

Measures of economic opportunity confirm this. Our unemployment rate is 2.2 percent. Our population is amongst the most educated in the country. Our median household income is fifth highest in the country.

Arlington Faces Economic Challenges: Despite being a place where most can realize their versions of the American Dream, we do have challenges. Our commercial vacancy rate over the last five years has been between 18-20 percent, reflecting the reality that many federal tenants left Crystal City and Rosslyn in the aftermath of September 11 and that the economy is shifting from heavy reliance on office buildings to working from home and the technology-driven workplaces of the 21st century.

Arlington’s 8.8 percent poverty rate is another challenge we must face. In 2015, the poverty line for a family of four in the County was $24,250. In such a great county, we should take measures to help our neighbors in need — many of whom already work full time — above the poverty line.

Embrace The 21st Century Economy: As the workplace changes, we will need to be a great place to work and play to retain and attract businesses and talent. We must embrace the technology based economy and the green economy as they lead to new economic growth in the years to come. That means embracing Arlington’s Energy Plan and driving toward even more renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Acquire Land Necessary to Grow: The newly formed Joint Facilities Advisory Committee has recommended that we acquire the land necessary to provide public services important to all Arlingtonians. I believe the County Board should approve the purchase of the land on S. Carlin Springs Road and the Buck Property. We will need both properties to facilitate public safety and transportation services needed to serve our people and keep our economy growing.

Invest in Metro: Metro has enabled many of us to get to work and has brought many businesses to Arlington. While there have been significant problems over the past few years, it’s also true that Metro is an investment in the middle class that has paid off many times over and that Metro’s role in businesses success and accommodating population growth make it indispensable. We must be committed stakeholders, demanding accountability while investing wisely. We cannot let Metro fail.

Commit to Building a Fourth High School: Over the long-term, economic growth will be heavily influenced by the quality of our schools. To keep our schools world class, I believe we must work to reduce construction costs and find efficiencies, while also committing to providing funding necessary to build a fourth, full-service high school.

Protect and Preserve Housing Affordability: Arlington must be a place where the middle class and those who want to work their way into the middle class can afford to live. Teachers, police officers, nurses, restaurant workers and construction workers must be able to afford to buy a home or rent. Seniors seeking to age in place must be able to find a way to stay here. Millennials must be able to afford to rent and realize their dreams of owning. And, yes, we must fully commit to funding the Affordable Housing Investment Fund so that we maintain affordability and diversity as Arlington continues to grow.

Practice Fiscal Restraint: Over the last two years, the County Board has made good, hard decisions on the budget such as choosing to close Artisphere and focus our funding for the arts on Signature Theatre as well as deciding to sell the Reeves Farmhouse while keeping the surrounding land as parkland and for historic uses. We will need to make similar hard decisions in the years to come so that we can have the resources to serve those in need and invest wisely in our future.

Conclusion

Arlington truly is a great place to live. Progressive ideas can make our community even better.

Matt de Ferranti serves on Arlington County’s Housing Commission as Vice Chair, is a member of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission and is Chair of the Budget Advisory Council to the Arlington School Board.

by Chris Teale August 3, 2017 at 11:20 am 0

Plans for the redevelopment of a seven-acre site in Virginia Square — which include a new apartment building, YMCA facility and affordable housing — are slated to come before the Arlington Planning Commission this fall.

The plans, for several properties around the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road, could result in a new six-story apartment building; a rebuilt, 100,000 square foot YMCA building; and a 161-home affordable housing project. The plans call for retaining American Legion Post 139 on the property.

On its property — the largest parcel on the site — the YMCA says it “intends to redevelop its site to allow for an expanded, world class, modern athletic and community YMCA facility as part of a mixed use project which would also allow for new residential uses on, or adjacent to, the Property.”

Within the site is the Ball family burial ground, designated as a local historic district in 1978 and the resting place of several family members. Given the desire to study the site, individual site plans and construction are still years away from coming to fruition.

The county and its Long Range Planning Committee has spent several months discussing land use planning for the parcel and the area as a whole, in advance of a site plan process.

The committee met on July 25 to discuss the latest round of suggestions for land use. Anthony Fusarelli, principal planner in the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, said in an email “it was suggested” that be the final meeting on the topic, and that the study be advanced to the full Planning Commission.

Ahead of that Planning Commission meeting, which could be as early as September, Fusarelli said an updated study document will be released for community review, incorporating the feedback of LRPC members and the public.

At the meeting of the LRPC last month, county staff presented various options for the site’s land use, while taking into account how buildings’ heights decrease as they get further from a Metro station.

Among those options, staff presented two that would create a so-called “Special District,” which would help coordinate development in the area and set clear guidelines for projects. The area would be designated as the Washington/Kirkwood Coordinated Mixed-Use Development District.

And in terms of density, staff has several options left on the table, including several that would allow for varying types of housing, which they said reflected local residents’ desire to have a transition between the dense Metro corridor and the neighborhood.

Staff also provided an option that would not change any land uses on the site, which they said would allow some development, including a hotel by right that would not require Arlington County Board approval. But they said only “limited improvements” could be made to the YMCA under that plan.

by Chris Teale August 3, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Millennials in Arlington appear most concerned about adding more transit options, removing on-street parking and finding new locations for public meetings, at least according to a county-run online forum.

The findings come from the county’s Engage Arlington website, which launched a millennial-focused forum about county issues earlier this summer.

The forum is part of a wider push by the county to get more millennials involved in local government and civic life. Arlington was named the best city for millennials in the U.S. by the website Niche, with the millennial generation making up between 30-40 percent of the county’s population of just over 220,000.

The most popular suggestion on the forum — as determined by a Reddit-style up-voting system —  is to expand transit options in North Arlington, which has nine “likes.”

I’d love to embrace “Millennialism” and be car-free, but the inconsistency in transit options in parts of North Arlington is difficult — there is minimal bus service and a lack of bikeshare stations, even near Marymount University. Adding bikeshare locations along the northern portion of Glebe Road from Lee Highway up to Chain Bridge would be helpful in continuing to connect this area with other parts of the County!

Just below that is a proposal to remove on-street parking, to encourage more walking and biking in neighborhoods.

Along the major corridors we should remove subsidized on-street parking, to encourage walk-able and bike-able neighborhoods. Many of these on-street parking spots reduce visibility at cross walks and cause dooring and blocking situations for bike lanes, increasing danger and reducing foot traffic. Remove a few strategic parking spaces along the pike and Roslyn [sic] Ballston corridor and use that space to widen the sidewalks or add bike lanes.

Following that, two suggestions are tied for third with seven likes: requests to change the locations of public meetings to “places millennials frequent,” as opposed to always at community centers or schools, and to find a “transit solution” for Columbia Pike after the canceled streetcar project. (The Pike’s “Premium Transit Network” is set to launch next summer.)

A request to “figure out how to bring reasonably priced housing to Arlington” was among those with six up-votes.

A full list of suggestions and the number of likes they received, in parentheses, is below.

  • Expanding transit options (9)
  • Remove on-street parking (8)
  • Different public meeting locations (7)
  • A transit solution for Columbia Pike (7)
  • Reasonably priced housing market (6)
  • More multi-use properties (6)
  • Replacing the parking lot next to Whole Foods in Clarendon with a multi-story parking garage (6)
  • Affordable child care options (5)
  • More public art along Columbia Pike (5)
  • More programs for renters who want to be more energy efficient (4)
  • Programming for those aged 20-50 at county buildings (4)
  • Dedicated bike lane on Washington Blvd (4)
  • Engaging the county’s LGBTQ population (3)
  • Better advertisement of the county’s performing arts groups (2)
  • Expanding Arlington Alerts to include community news (2)
  • More transparent policing (2)
  • A dog park for Crystal City (2)
  • Bike paths on westbound Arlington Blvd (2)
  • A bridge on the Bluemont Trail at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive (1)
  • Add sidewalks to encourage more walking (1)
  • Reclaim some community centers to use as elementary schools (-1)

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com August 3, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

More School Boundary Changes Ahead — The always-controversial process of changing school boundaries in Arlington is on the School Board agenda during the next school year. The School Board plans to tackle middle school boundaries in the fall and elementary school boundaries in the spring. [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Energy Lending Program Lauded — “Arlington County’s Energy Lending Library program has received the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 2017 Achievement Award… Through the program, residents can borrow free energy efficiency tools from their local library, along with the information needed to identify and act on energy efficiency opportunities. These tools include: a thermal camera, a sampler kit of 10 different LED lightbulbs, an energy meter to manage home electricity use, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books.” [Arlington County]

Vornado Trying to Offload Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado, which recently spun off most of its Arlington properties to the newly-renamed JBG Smith, retained ownership interests in a number of local properties. Among them is Rosslyn Plaza, which was approved for a massive development last year. Vornado is now trying to sell its share in the 7.65 acre property. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale August 3, 2017 at 8:25 am 0

A crash and an overturned car left the eastbound lanes blocked on Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City on Thursday morning.

The accident happened around 7:30 a.m. August 3 near the Macy’s department store at Army Navy Drive’s intersection with S. Hayes Street. It left a black car on its side at the scene.

Police closed all lanes going east, while a photo from a reader shows a long line of cars stopped trying to get onto Army Navy Drive from I-395.

According to scanner traffic, the car was back “on all fours” just before 8:20 a.m. Police reopened the eastbound lanes just before 8:30 a.m.

That section of Army Navy Drive is a busy one in the mornings, as it connects to I-395 and takes hundreds of cars to and from the nearby Pentagon.

Photos No. 1 and 2 by David and Elizabeth Lacey. Photo No. 3 by Heather Carroll.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 3, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

The D.C. area is home to four of the top ten richest counties in the country.

For businesses that cater to these local customers, the concentration of wealth provides an excellent opportunity for driving revenue but also presents unique challenges for improving customer engagement.

One way to enhance engagement, especially with customers with high disposable incomes, is by incorporating personalization through the use of digital kiosks.

When deals and specials don’t drive sales

More wealth means more disposable income. While discounts and price drops remain attractive even to the wealthy, it simply is not a sustainable way for long term engagement with customers. Customers, especially the wealthy in the region, aren’t as motivated to make a purchase simply based on deals, coupons, and discounts as other consumers. Rather, businesses have to go beyond price-driven relationships and think about how to engage customers with personalized, sophisticated experiences.

In the age of technology, where people spend the majority of their waking hours interacting with a screen, digital channels provide the easiest and most direct route to engage customers. Digital signage kiosks in particular provide a familiar and engaging platform that allows businesses to provide immersive experiences that are highly targeted.

Selling sophistication

When used correctly, digital kiosks signal to customers that a business is forward-thinking and tech-savvy. This sells sophistication, and customers will bite.

Let’s take a look at a few applications of digital kiosks and how they elevate the customer experience:

  • Doctor’s offices and clinics with check-in kiosks will have faster check-in times and reduced back-and-forth between the patient and receptionist. Displaying trivia and wait times on the screens will reduce perceived wait times, a big pain point for the healthcare industry.
  • Spas can display welcome messages for bridal parties, birthday parties, etc., to further personalize the visit. Displaying staff bios and social media posts on the digital screens familiarizes customers with the business and encourages engagement even after the customer has left the property.
  • Rather than displaying news, banks can display mortgage rates and stock tickers in the branches, and add check-in kiosks for customers to complete any necessary forms while they wait for their number in the queue.
  • Realtors can replace static signs with digital window displays showing local listings, points of interests such as schools, shopping, churches, etc., available showings, and even realtor profiles. Making virtual tours available on digital kiosks in the office gives potential home owners an opportunity for discovery and exploration, and the realtor a chance to wow them.
  • In retail locations digital kiosks present an endless aisle where customers can search for and order items not in the store. Stores such as Bloomingdale’s and ZARA have installed kiosks in their changing rooms where customers can ask for alternate colors and sizes. Kiosks can even recommend items that would complement the original.
  • Restaurants are also using digital kiosks. McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Panera are just a few that have introduced kiosks for shorter lines, improved accuracy, and personalization – customers can save their order modifications as favourites or order from their history.

The use cases are virtually endless. Digital kiosks can display weather, traffic, event listings, emergency alerts, wayfinding and building directories, corporate communication, etc.

Impressive ROI

In addition to improving the customer experience, digital kiosks also improve efficiency and reduce overall operating costs.

They eliminate the cost of printing static signs, allow brands to instantly update their messages for real-time interaction with their customers, and add visual appeal to a venue or building. Also, when the kiosks display important customer-facing information, employees will spend less time answering questions and more time on pressing tasks, thus improving their productivity.

The D.C. area is home to a unique demographic that is primed to make purchases using a wealth of information. They also expect more from their actual shopping experience. For this group and in instances when discounts don’t drive sales, kiosks are providing the perfect complementary service within brick-and-mortar environments.

Jacqueline Hoffmann is a Solutions Consultant at Mvix, a leading provider of content-rich digital signage solutions. She leads the Washington, D.C. team, working with designers and engineers to build digital signage networks that connect brands with people. To learn more about Mvix, please visit www.mvixdigitalsignage.com or call 703.584.4304.

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