Recently I attended a marketing conference in Boston, and of course while it was exciting and full of great speakers and networking opportunities I couldn't help from feeling like the event could have stepped up their technology game. First off the event's Wi-Fi connectivity was rather spotty and overall could have been better (but that's a different subject) and secondly, even though they were trying to enhance the experience with a custom event app it just felt like they didn't do all that they could have to take a great event and turn it into an extraordinary event.
For example, they had a map service in the app, which was great considering the building was gigantic (I think I walked 10 miles a day) however, when you used it all it did was draw a line on a map from a pre-determined location to the next location.
In other words you can see on a map a line from one room to another room, kind of helpful but not interactive and not contextual.
What they could have done was placed beacons throughout the event and then paired them with the app to offer me wayfinding. This would have allowed me to navigate the event from wherever I was to wherever I wanted to go in a personalized "GPS" style experience.
This would have wowed me number one, and number two been a lot more helpful.
What this event failed to grasp fully was how they were interacting with their audience. Marketing and event messaging used to be just that, all about the messaging.
Sure sometimes a push notification can be valuable, but most of the time if it is it's because you got lucky that it happened to be at the right time in the right place.
There has to be a better way than just hoping to get lucky, there has to be a way to take your messaging and actually give it personalized context to your audience.
Beacons paired with the right applications can provide attendees with meaningful connections and dynamic interactions with brands, sponsors, and each other.
The emphasis has shifted from what you're saying to your audience to enhancing the event experience by adding real context.
Today, event organizers are starting to see the potential of beacons in making the brand standout and maximizing user engagement.
Last spring, 20 of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums were retrofitted with beacons and fans were greeted with welcome messages as they entered the stadium, encouraged to drop by the concession stands for discounts and promos, and provided access to maps, photos, and video clips.
At the Coachella music festival in April, beacon technology was used to activate music lovers’ wristbands to help them find friends, track shuttles for getting around the festival, share memorable moments on social media, and more.
Beacons allow for a richer event experience by creating timely, relevant, and valuable connections. And in these connections, we find the technology’s most significant value.
Despite the excitement circling this new innovation, its full potential hasn't even begun to be realized.
Here we have outlined 3 ways beacon technology is reshaping the event industry and why they should start paying attention.
Streamlining Navigation & Logistics
Large events tend to be more logistically challenging to support. It’s not easy to manage thousands of people lining up in queues like concession stands at a ball game or helping them navigate huge conference buildings.
As we mentioned above, beacon-enabled wayfinding allows organizers to streamline logistics and navigation by providing their audience or attendees with "GPS" style or turn-by-turn directions once inside the event.
To help you create a better visual, imagine an attendee being greeted by a notification message using the event-specific app the moment she enters the lobby. As she makes her way around, beacons detect her location, sync with her personal itinerary, and guide her through each segment of the event.
In addition, this system of beacons and apps can collect valuable real-time data including heat maps and traffic data that can be used by you to manage the event as it's happening.
This makes managing crowd control so much easier and helps your team ensure that attendees are not only safe but are maximizing their experience by not wasting time with directions or waiting in long lines.
Suggested Reading - "3 Brilliant Examples of How Beacon Technology is Transforming Mobility"
Driving Real-Time Engagement
Events are prime venues for networking and linking up with people in the same industry or that have the same business interests. But with attendance in the hundreds and thousands, it’s not always easy to initiate the right conversations with the right people.
Beacons can help drive session-level discussion and participation by recognizing the attendees present in a room, alerting them to check in with the event app, and cueing them to join ongoing conversations that interest them, enabling a more productive level of interaction.
Combine this strategy with social integration or in-app location-based messaging and boom, you have a highly valuable tool that provides attendees with the ability to have relevant conversations with like-minded people.
This mobile route of networking adds significant value to your event, one that will help you gain a loyal following.
Transitioning Moving Parts Seamlessly
With all of your events’ moving parts, a single sudden can derail the whole experience for your audience. However, sudden adjustments or unexpected movements happen all the time so it's critical that you're able to have instant communication with all of your guests.
But how do you do this effectively using traditional methods?
By integrating your network with beacons you can quickly push out alerts to attendees and give them proper instructions regarding any changes and frankly it's what they've come to expect.
Suggested Reading: "How to Design Better Contextual Wi-Fi Experiences Using Beacons"
It's a very noisy world out there and it's only getting more crowded. Customers want and are increasingly expecting a more personalized and interactive experience, if you don't deliver, they will easily move on to someone who will.
Contextual networking and location-based technologies like beacons, sensors and applications have the ability to create almost any experience you want to offer while delivering vital data back to you. The only real challenge is figuring out how you want to use it.
Remember it's not just what you're saying, but where, when and how you're saying it that will have the most impact.
To learn more about deploying beacon technology and developing a contextual networking strategy, simply contact us here.