With event apps, push notifications and cashless payments, it's no secret that mobile devices play a major role in successful events. But today, meeting and event planners can enhance the mobile experience for attendees through Beacon technology.
Beacons are small Bluetooth transmitters that can sense nearby mobile devices and send/receive notifications to/from those devices. Depending on the device, Beacons can have a range of just a few inches to up to 150+ feet. One of the most common industries using this technology is retail, where stores can setup Beacons to market promotions, coupons and other messages to shoppers walking by.
When used correctly, Beacons can also be an effective tool for the events industry as well. Here are some examples:
Promotions & Advertisements
Similar to the retail example above, Beacons can be used in the exhibit hall by sponsors to send messages to attendees passing by their booth. Like retail, these can range from advertising discounts, free swag, contests or setting up meetings (i.e. “Need a better events software platform? Stop by the Aventri booth to learn more about how we can help!”). This can help increase sponsor satisfaction with greater booth traffic and more leads. This option for sponsors can also be setup as an extra monetization feature, making you some extra revenue.
Sponsors and event planners can also use Beacon technology with their event mobile app to create games to drive networking and engagement for attendees. From scavenger hunts to completing event related tasks the possibilities are endless. For example, attendees can unlock badges or prizes by visiting your biggest sponsor booths, attending featured sessions and more. You can help drive traffic to less popular or traveled areas of your event this way as well.
Beacons can also be used to send attendees helpful reminders and alerts especially when they first arrive at an event. For example, Beacons could be setup and activated near the registration desks so when attendees walk in they receive an immediate reminder to check-in and pick up important event materials. Event planners can even can even take this a step further by letting attendees avoid long lines and check-in themselves online. Once they’re in range of acceptable registration areas, attendees can receive a link or code to check-in online.
Displaying interactive floor maps in your event mobile app is a great way to help your attendees get around. Enhance that experience even further by letting Beacons track where your attendee is within that floor map, as well as display the exact locations of places of interest. Attendees can also even customize what type of Beacon messages they’d like to receive. For example, if they’re interested in learning more about event software, whenever they pass by a sponsor booth in the exhibit hall or speaker session about that topic while walking down the hall, they’ll get a notification.
While all of these examples enhance engagement at your event, there are some great data advantages for the event planner as well. Because Beacons are a two-way street, you can examine a lot of traffic data, which can help you determine your most popular booths, sessions or events and what day/time you hit these high or low points. With this data you can create a better flow for future events.
It should be noted that even with all these great capabilities, Beacons do come with some drawbacks. Attendees must download your event mobile app and their devices must have Bluetooth turned on to work for example. Also too many messages and notifications might be a turn off. Therefore it's important to market your Beacon usage and your event mobile app to attendees pre-event and onsite, as well as to have a plan to make sure you have the right balance of Beacon messaging. If you do, you’ll find that Beacons can increase attendee engagement while providing a new way to step up your technology game.
Are you using Beacons at your events? Do you think the events industry will be using more Beacons in the future? Share in the comments below!
This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for relevance and clarity.