How can beacons improve your next live event?

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The sporting industry has been one of the quickest to adopt iBeacons. In the US, the NFL and MLB have deployed beacons in stadiums that allow visitors to check in at live games, and in return receive useful information on everything from where to park to which seat upgrades are on offer.

All useful, but things get really interesting when you start to add context that isn’t limited to the venue itself.

Many users see beacons as devices that are limited to use within a location. While it’s true that this is their primary function, the real value starts to become apparent when you start collecting location data – working out how people behave once they are actually inside a building.

The most obvious use of this data is to optimise the internal layout of the location. At a stadium, putting your concession stand in the right place can generate thousands in extra sales, or moving your gates to remove bottlenecks can have a huge impact on safety and visitor satisfaction.

Better data = more value

Above and beyond this however, beacons add a digital layer. That data can be added to the wider marketing which occurs before, during and after an event.

As mentioned, several stadiums are already experimenting with ways to increase on-site engagement from fans, for example by sending them polls where they can vote on probable next plays. There’s an obvious use case for this kind of data for the betting and gaming industry, where on-site sentiment could be used as a calculation metric.

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In addition to keeping visitors entertained, these polls are extremely easy to extend to a digital or broadcast audience, adding an extra dimension to an otherwise passive activity. The TV industry already does this to an extent through platforms like Twitter, but by adding in real-time reactions, the process becomes even more personal. The ability to make audiences more active is invaluable from a commercial point of view, but this is about far more than just ‘selling’.

Many sports fans are close followers of statistics and historical data, which beacons could easily relay to devices in the crowd as each layer takes the field. Fans on site could also be connected directly to friends at home through their social networks, meaning they can interact with hyper-targeted groups to discuss play as it happens.

And of course there are plenty of opportunities for gamification. Who wouldn’t want to become a superfan or ‘mayor’ of their home team’s stadium in exchange for special gifts, loyalty points or recognition? Beacons now offer the ability to take everything offered by social media accounts and make it even more personal.

These actions aren’t just limited to sporting events, or stadiums. Gigs, theatre, movies and business networking can all benefit from this extra layer of data. In the past we’ve mentioned that beacons could be used to check attendees in to an event quickly, but once they are inside, it becomes possible to market in real-time based on their existing preferences, and connect them easily with colleagues. Networking is itself a huge part of the value-proposition for many conferences.

Once the event is over, it’s easy to match up data for greater value – which vendors did your guests visit, and for how long? Which speaker sessions were the most popular?

There are hundreds of points of micro-optimisation available, and afterwards you can segment data for follow-up communications in far more detail. As an example, I have often found that after an event I am bombarded with emails from the sponsors. While selling attendee data is a key commercial point in many cases, event hosts would be able to make sure I only received communications from sponsors I had actively interacted with, meaning that while email list volume is reduced, conversion rates can be increased. Essentially, this is on-site predictive lead generation.

Beacons are becoming more common in many venues, but there is a long way to go. Sports teams, bands and event promoters are perfectly positioned to gain massive value from beacons and location marketing. Many of them already have apps, and they have audiences that actively want more data and information delivered in real time. It may be a cliché, but giving customers more of what they already want is never a bad strategy.

Ready to get started with location marketing? Check out our range of beacons, or drop us a line to see how we can help your business improve its data and communications.

Matt Owen