This blog was originally published on November 4, 2016. It has been edited for updates and accuracy.
2013 marked the year that event planners gained access to a new instrument in their technology stack.
That was the year Apple first introduced iBeacon technology into mobile devices, making location technology easily (and pervasively) accessible. Event planners looking to produce highly interactive events found that beacons helped introduce proximity marketing to their events. It opened up a new level of engagement that was more personalized to an attendee’s location and experience.
And so beacons made its way into the events industry.
The origin of beacons in proximity marketing
The retail market was the first to embrace beacon technology and shape the concept of proximity marketing. Beacons allow organizers to send timely messages to devices based on location, creating uniquely relevant experiences prompting users to action.
Best Buy uses beacons to offer rewards via their mobile app to customers as they enter the store. Nordstrom connects online shopping to the in-store experience by notifying customers if any item in their mobile shopping bag is in stock (triggered via a beacon located at the front door.) Hudson’s Bay Company deploys beacons that push out individual campaigns offering discounts with “reveal codes”. In addition to triggering buying behavior, it allows the company to track the effectiveness of each beacon.
The use of proximity marketing are seemingly limited by the imagination.
Using location-based promotions at events
The events and meetings industry can learn (and profit) from the retail industry’s proximity marketing foundations by bringing location technology into attendee experience. The possibilities becomes endless as beacons help to bridge the gap between the mobile event app and the attendee’s physical location.
- Registration can become automated, thereby eliminating line-ups.
- Crowd traffic can be measured to determine the value of specific booth locations.
- Attendees can check in to a session simply by entering the room.
Another exciting potential of proximity marketing for event planners resides in location based-promotions. With beacons, planners can offer promotions or information via a targeted push notification when attendees draw near to particular booths or exhibitions. It might be a brochure sent during a product demonstration, or an item list for attendees entering a silent auction room.
The capability to connect an attendee with a promotion is greatly enhanced when it is combined with proximity and relevancy. It is the difference between window shopping and stepping into the store. Beacons use location technology to take advantage of the time when an attendee’s focus is narrowed and receptive.
A unique experience for every attendee
Proximity marketing, driven by beacon technology, allows event planners to provide a unique experience to their attendees and construct opportunities at optimal moments.
Any promotional event, including demonstrations, prize drawings, or booth visits, can be significantly more impactful when delivered in a relevant and timely manner. The combination of beacon technology with a mobile event app affords event planners the opportunity to craft interactions and personalize the entire attendee experience.
Proximity marketing at events continues to grow and beacons are slowly evolving into the a perfect addition to the mobile event app.