Beacons to Transform Event Management


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    Timothy Myres

    Beacons have captivated the attention of the tech media world. With the recent deployment of these low-cost devices by retailers such as Macy’s, Apple Stores, and sports venues such as Major League Baseball stadium, Oracle Arena, etc., beacon technology has stimulated the appetite of event marketers too.

    For years, event organizers have pursued new ways to enhance visitors’ experience by delivering improved customer service and offering digital content through event-specific mobile apps. These apps rely on Near Field Communication (NFC) which is detectable only within a range of a few inches, or GPS, which is too broad and cannot accurately pinpoint a booth in a trade show venue. Not to mention that, unlike Bluetooth, built-in NFC is limited to very few mobile devices.

    Despite beacons gaining momentum through deployments across hotels and museums, they are still new to the market. This is one of the reasons why there exist misconceptions around the security and privacy of beacons.

    This new proximity-detection technology allows event managers to interact personally with visitors and attendees by triggering location-specific content and alerts to their mobile devices.

    So, how can beacons revolutionize the event management industry as a whole?

    Roshni Rathore

    Beacons have captivated the attention of the tech media world. With the recent deployment of these low-cost devices by retailers such as Macy’s, Apple Stores, and sports venues such as Major League Baseball stadium, Oracle Arena, etc., beacon technology has stimulated the appetite of event marketers too.
    How Event Marketers and can put beacons to use:
    1. Gamification
    Today, gamification plays a crucial role in creating positive brand awareness while offering enhanced visitor engagement. Keeping attendees engaged during sessions at an event by letting them ask questions or delivering personalized deals and messages based on a visitor’s proximity to a trade show booth are all efficient event management tools. You can encourage your attendees to explore less popular areas of your trade show by offering them special rewards for doing so. You could also reward them for certain valued actions, such as completing a feedback questionnaire with free coupons or merchandise.

    One of the best examples of gamifying events is the iBeacon powered Scavenger Hunt at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014. Users were directed to the instructions page after having downloaded the CES2014 mobile app on their phones. The hunt encouraged them to explore the most important exhibits at the show while collecting badges from each beacon that they encountered. Rewards were given to the first three users who collected the entire list of badges shown on the screen.
    2. Frictionless Registration
    One of the things that most attendees hate the most at large-scale events are waiting in long lines. Many event organizers are now experimenting with beacons to speed up the check-in process. You can deploy these tiny pieces of hardware at your exhibition or conference venue entrance and use them to send QR codes to the attendees’ apps for easy check-in. To get things moving faster, you can even use beacons to potentially check-in your attendees immediately as they arrive or get the badges automatically printed at a self-service terminal nearby.

    SXSW 2014 festival, for example, leveraged Qualcomm Gimbal beacons to provide a more enjoyable experience to their attendees. The event organizers placed iBeacons within certain strategic locations of the Austin Convention Center to enable attendees to gain easy and quick access to their Registration Quick Codes via notifications when they were in the vicinity of the SXSW registration area. This way, they could speed up their badge distribution process and enhance visitors’ event experience.
    3. Improved Networking
    Networking is one of the primary reasons why people attend events. The event app can use beacons to take your attendees’ participation level to a whole new level. Most apps use visitor self-tagging or LinkedIn integration to match profiles based on user’s interests to send them notifications when they are near a match. You can even extend your service to offer a guided tour of the event arena based on the user’s interests. For example, if a particular user is interested in mobile commerce, you can enable the app to guide them to all relevant stalls at the trade show and also provide additional information on exhibitor and the services offered by them, thus helping them connect and exchange contact details effortlessly.

    For example, Cannes Lion Film Festival 2014 leveraged beacons to make it easier for attendees to instantly spot, connect and message influential industry targets around them using the ‘Around Me’ feature in the official event app. When visitors entered a room at the venue, they could immediately check-in by connecting their iPhone with an iBeacon nearby.
    The ‘Session Live’ feature within the app allowed them to participate in real-time polls and participate in ‘in-app’ discussions. On top of this, the app even provided attendees with more information on the campaigns and producers behind the festival.
    4. Sponsorships
    Event organizers can also leverage beacons for additional revenue. For example, when a user passes by a certain zone at the trade show venue, they receive a notification prompting them to come and check out the closest booth. This can be a premium service offered to sponsors.
    5. Navigation and Heat Mapping
    One of the best uses of mobile apps is floor maps when it comes to trading shows or concerts. Beacons are a great way of telling your attendees where they are and directing them to their desired locations within the venue. For example, users can be sent notifications about a session about to commence when they walk by the session hall. This is a great way to foster engagement during the conference while ensuring attendees get the maximum out of a particular event.
    With access to real-time statistics, beacons even recognize hotspots and alerts organizers about overcrowded locations and more prone to security breaches.
    6. Content Delivery
    Most attendees at an event flock behind presenters for a copy of the presentation slides or end up waiting for weeks for the content to arrive in their inbox. You can avoid this long, taxing wait by using Beacons to recognize attendees at the session and automatically deliver slides, ebooks, etc., during or immediately after the session.
    7. Auto Check-in
    Event organizers can easily gather information on the number of people attending an event or a trade show and view their profiles in real-time by setting up beacons to simulate check-ins at the conference venue entrance. This requires no action from the user’s side. If the user has downloaded the app and enabled Bluetooth on his/her mobile device, the app will automatically check-in as soon as the user walks into the venue.
    Thus, by enabling brands to breathe life into the traditional event experience, beacons are an integral part of any company’s digital strategy shortly.

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