What Are Beacons And Why They Matter To Events
What is a beacon?
Beacons are one of the latest communications tools that take advantage of both mobile technology and proximity. Beacons are small transmitting devices that communicate using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), an upgraded version of the Bluetooth technology that we have been using to pair phones to headsets and other devices for several years.
What’s the difference between a beacon and iBeacon?
A beacon is the actual physical device. Many providers exist, and probably many more will produce beacons in the future. iBeacon is a marketing term invited in late 2013 by Apple to describe a communication protocol between a beacon and a receiving device (usually a mobile phone). Therefore, app developers and event planners can easily change beacon providers as long as the beacons are iBeacon-compliant.
What are the benefits of beacons?
The beauty of beacons is that they allow targeted messages to be sent to people at the right place and time. Through the strategic placement of beacons combined with opt-in mobile applications, people can receive information on their smartphones that can improve their experiences.
These messages can include retail discounts, suggested purchases, customized maps, and opportunities for unique experiences. Visitors to Apple stores who also have the Apple Store app loaded on their iPhones were among the first to experience how iBeacon technology can influence shopping behavior.
Barely six months old, the power of beacons is still untapped, but about to impact the meetings and events industry in big ways. Imagine If:
- Attendees had an app that confirmed their session attendance for CEU credits
- Attendees were notified that someone who they wanted to meet was nearby
- Attendees received “game pieces” to an interactive conference game
- Attendees walked by a trade show booth and learned that they had a product relevant to their needs
- Attendees received a piece of educational information that enhanced the learning experience
- Exhibitors collected unique information about attendees while providing them with customized information that meets their needs
These are all real possibilities of how beacons may and will make its way into practical uses for conferences and events. Over the upcoming months and years we will continue to see more of a convergence of mobile technology and location-based relevancy.
How do you see beacons changing the events that your produce?