The “next big thing” in event tech has an almost reliable tendency to become a passing fad (Google Glass, anyone?). So, venue managers can be forgiven for wondering if iBeacons really have the staying power to change the format of events and whether they’re worth the considerable investment.
First though, a quick refresh on what iBeacons actually are.
Techcrunch has a nice explanation: “Beacons, which Apple refers to as iBeacons, are hardware devices that can be detected by mobile devices, and more specifically, by mobile apps running on your devices. Apple uses iBeacon devices to track where customers are in its stores, for example.”
Is it Magic? No, it's An iBeacon!
So, what’s the appeal?
Since many exhibition organizers struggle with unbalanced visitor traffic at their events, iBeacons can be of great help when it comes to steering show traffic. As the popularity of “gamification” rages on, iBeacons can facilitate interactive scavenger hunts as a fun way engage visitors. Furthermore, with the use of iBeacon technology, organizers could offer dedicated guided tours with special themes in order to drive more visitors to areas that are usually likely to be empty.
For show visitors, iBeacons can add a lot to the perceived value of the event. iBeacons offer an easy way to obtain information on the venue or the event itself, speed up the check-in process and drive networking activity.
Going All-in on iBeacons
Ok, so now that we know how beneficial iBeacons are to organizers and attendees, what venue manager wouldn’t want to incorporate this special competitive advantage in their strategy?
However, implementing iBeacons in a venue can be somewhat of a challenging project. Before you go all-in, make sure you’ve covered your bases on the likely challenges you’ll face:
- Time challenges: Designate a (tech-savvy) iBeacon specialist to act as a contact person for all related enquiries (internal and external).
- Physical challenges: When installing iBeacons in your venue, make sure they are safely placed and, similar to WIFI, you have to make sure the signal won’t be disrupted (by walls, objects, people, etc.).
- Data challenges: Bear in mind that iBeacons create a lot of data. As a venue manager, you should have a substantial data policy in place with respect to visitor and exhibitor data (for best practices on this topic, I can recommend this blog post). Furthermore, additional data also creates the need for good analytics tools.
iBeacons can be extremely beneficial to event organizers and will almost certainly become an in-demand feature in the near future. Before you decide to make your venue “iBeacon-friendly,” be certain you have the capacities to do so. If you succeed, you will have some powerful tools at hand to improve the event ROI for both organizers and exhibitors.