10 Event Planners using Beacons to Engage Attendees in Creative Ways
Last Updated:  April 6, 2018
Since their launch at Apple’s WWDC 2013, beacons have caught the attention of event tech pundits all over, as they helped usher in a new era in which attendees expect event organizers to offer a more contextualized event experience. In fact, the number of events that have leveraged cutting-edge event technology and mobile marketing initiatives continue to grow with each passing year. According to a survey conducted by the Event Marketing Institute and Crowd Compass by Cvent, 75% of leading event planners already use mobile apps at events. This percentage is predicted to grow up to 86% in year 2016.
Adding on to that, 94% of the event industry have announced that they plan to maintain or increase their mobile app budget this year. Since higher budgets are usually followed by higher expectations, experts predict that we will see more event marketers rise up to the challenge by making the most of leading innovative technologies such as iBeacon. Not surprising, given that, proximity-aware event apps are found to be 235% more engaging than standard mobile apps at events, according to a recent study. At the same time, when it comes to location-aware notifications, beacon-driven notifications perform better than those triggered by GPS.
[Tweet “Proximity-aware event apps are 235% more engaging than standard mobile apps at events”]
In this blog we will discuss in detail about 10 events that are maximizing user engagement by virtually enhancing all attendee touch points using beacons.
1. Mobile World Congress
Not satisfied by the average interaction rate of mobile apps for events, event organizers of the Mobile World Congress turned to beacons to enhance attendee experience during the event and to gather insights on visitor behaviour to improve future events. The event lasted for four days and saw 93,000 attendees from 200 countries participate, 48% of whom downloaded the event app.
Some of the exciting, new beacon-enabled features that were added to the app included allowing attendees who hadn’t registered for the event to do it right away via the app once they arrived at the Barcelona Airport. Beacons were also used to drive traffic to premium exhibitor stands, encouraging app users to stop in as they walked by. Adding on to that, once they left the venue, beacons were used to trigger information about available means of transport. Also at the end of the Congress, all attendees received a beacon-enabled invitation to visit a future event. Displaying such contextually relevant notifications helped boost user interaction. For example, 47% of mobile users interacted with the app at the venue, which is 240% more than the best usage rate of mobile apps.
[Tweet “How MWC 2015 used beacons to gather insights on visitor behaviour”]
It is worth noting that while 79% of mobile app users at Mobile World Congress had enabled GPS, only 2% received a notification. Compared to that, out of 60% of mobile users who had turned their bluetooth ON, an astonishing 48% received a beacon triggered message. Thus beacons helped event organizers reach out to 17 times more mobile users than they would with GPS, thus proving to be the most accurate and best suited technology for delivering location-aware notifications.
[Tweet “How beacons helped MWC 2015 reach out to 17 times more mobile users than via GPS”]
2. Detroit Auto Show
Image Source: porscheautoworld.com
In their efforts to seek more ways for brands to interact with the throngs of spectators on a scale that the product specialists manning the displays could never achieve, event organizers at the Detroit North American International Auto Show turned to beacons to give their participants an experimental treatment at the 2016 edition of the auto show. As a part of this iBeacon campaign, Detroit’s Cobo Center was fitted with 30 beacons that were programmed to interact with the show’s smartphone app and help visitors navigate a pre-configured floorplan. On opening the app at the venue, users saw a map of the exhibit floor that was marked with empty red circles. And as the users crossed a particular area of the show, these circles were checked off to let them know that they had visited that area.
[Tweet “How Detroit Auto Show 2016 used beacons to help visitors navigate the show floor with ease”]
While this year’s beacon effort were primarily focused around wayfinding, event organizers of the auto show plan to roll out more features including using beacons to keep track of the vehicle displays that had that had the most number of repeat visitors or longest dwell times, in the future.
3. Tribeca Film Festival
Image Source: mashable.com
New York’s annual film festival leveraged beacons to keep festival attendees up to date about event happenings, ticket sales and promotions. In their efforts to achieve this, event organizers at Tribeca Film Festival deployed hundreds of beacons in high-traffic areas of the city such as bus shelters, digital signage (OOH) boards etc. Apart from these, about 50 beacons were deployed around and inside the event venues. App-holders who walked by bus shelters and out-of-home ads (equipped with beacons) with the app open on their device, received notifications alerting them that they could purchase tickets straight from the app.
On the other hand, beacons at the venue were used to push contextual notifications such as the ones asking attendees for their feedback on a particular film when they exited the screening. In addition to that, the film festival also used beacons to offer merchandise discounts by deploying them at the ticket counters.
[Tweet “How Tribeca Film Festival leveraged beacons to keep attendees up to date on event happenings”]
4. Reeperbahn Festival
Being a large music festival that consists of close to 600 events such as concerts, workshops, and conferences, held at 70 different locations and all dedicated to fans of different music genres, event organizers of the Reeperbahn Festival had been facing one primary challenge for long. The festival’s diverse lineup made it challenging for attendees to remember every show or conference they had seen. This is bad news, because the core factor behind the success of most music festivals lie in the extent to which visitors remember the events they attended – the better they recall them, the more likely they are to come again next year.
Last year event organizers at the music festival eventually went on to leverage beacons to address this challenge. With its ability to be accurate indoors while being energy efficient (a particular concern among festival-goers, who will do everything they can to avoid their phone dying in the middle of the event), iBeacon technology seemed to be perfect solution for this issue.
Image Source: rfidjournal.com
Another important thing worth noting here is that, unlike most events, Reeperbahn Festival didn’t use beacons to push notifications but to register a user’s journey around locations and accordingly display relevant on-demand content. This way, users didn’t have to browse the app trying to recall a name of a performer whose concert they had attended or manually search for a recently heard song in their music players. Instead, beacons were used to automatically populate each user’s Logbook with relevant pictures, videos, and ready-made Spotify playlists.
[Tweet “How Reeperbahn Festival leveraged beacons to display relevant on-demand content”]
As an added advantage, beacons even helped the organizers collect statistics on people flow. These insights came in handy for crowd management and helped them identify the most attractive venues and events to better design the festival in the future.
5. Electric Castle
One of Romania’s biggest music festivals, Electric Castle, leveraged beacons to raise awareness about the historical ground where the concerts took place, via a treasure hunt. The event that lasted for four days, gathered around 97,000 visitors across a spread of exhibits on over 100 acres of land around Banffy Castle, a medieval castle.
Image Source: weart.ro
As a part of this campaign, over 40 beacons were deployed by the event organizers at the venue. These beacons were then used to provide unique experiences for the festival participants through various quest activities that were a part of the treasure hunt in the Banffy Castle. Users were asked to solve short riddles (which helped them learn something new about the castle) in order to qualify for the next step and eventually win prizes.
[Tweet “How Electric Castle leveraged an iBeacon treasure hunt to raise awareness about the Banffy Castle”]
6. Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
One of the world’s leading food and wine events, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival leveraged beacons to encourage festival-goers to explore the city and discover new venues that they otherwise may not be aware of. As a part of this campaign, beacons were installed at more than 50 cafes, restaurants and wine bars. These proximity detection devices were then used in conjunction with ‘Explorer’, the festival app, to send personalised micro-location based notifications to users who were near-by.
Image Source: campaignbrief.com
The event organizers, however wanted users to opt in and participate in new culinary adventures as they wandered the city and not win prizes by merely walking past venues. This is where beacons played a critical role. These proximity detection devices were used to pick up signals when a user completed a particular challenge at a venue and reward him/her with free food and drinks, unique event experiences, and of course Festival tickets.
[Tweet “How Melbourne Food and Wine Festival used beacons to encourage users to explore the city”]
7. Zac Brown Band’s Veterans’ Benefit Concert
Image Source: mobilemarketer.com
Country music star, Zac Brown Band leveraged beacons to improve the fan experience while driving awareness for a great cause. As a part of this campaign, fans attending the band’s 9/11 concert at the Wrigley Field in Chicago received a beacon message via the ZBB Live app while exiting the show. The message encouraged them to join the Zac Brown Band and Warriors to Summits by pledging their support of veterans. Thus the app was able to reinforce the message among fans throughout the venue.
[Tweet “How Zac Brown Band used beacons to improve fan experience while driving awareness for a great cause”]
8. SummerWell Festival
SummerWell Festival is popularly known as an event that hosts live performances of cool & trendy artists and bands of the moment, in an exceptional natural environment, a wooded park of 25 hectares in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. The 2015 edition of this music festival was perhaps most noteworthy for holding a beacon powered treasure hunt contest.
Image Source: trendhunter.com
Contestants who downloaded the festival’s dedicated SummerWell mobile app were allowed to track and locate the various treasures, that were marked out by special beacons on the festival territory. Winners were rewarded with a free hot air balloon ride and other exciting prizes.
9. Absolventenkongress (Congress of the Graduates)
One of the largest job fairs in Germany and Switzerland, Absolventenkongress, recently leveraged beacons to reinvent itself by dissolving the boundaries between analog and digital worlds. As a part of this campaign, the event organizers allowed candidates to update their profiles via the StaufenbielApp weeks before the exhibition. This allowed employers to match the skillsets of the candidates against their requirements and send initial proposals to the ones they were interested in. In addition to this, close to 300 beacons were deployed at the event venue, each one precisely identifying the booth of one participating company at the German job fair.
Image Source: onyxbeacon.com
Once these candidates arrived at the venue, they automatically received beacon-enabled notifications that clearly indicated the booth locations at which the candidates had to meet their recruiters. This way, the job fair was able to leverage beacons to bring candidates and companies together by creating relevant and effective connections between profiles and job descriptions.
[Tweet “How Absolventenkongress used beacons to impactfully connect candidates and companies at the job fair”]
10. Bonnaroo Music and Art Festival
Image Source: redbull.com
Bonnaroo, a popular four-day musical festival, recently leveraged beacons and geofencing to communicate with its attendees, and get an idea of how people were moving across the concert area. As a part of this campaign, the concert geofenced the airport and the entire state of Tennessee in their efforts to know when its concert-goers were en-route. For example, the event organizers deployed 114 beacons around the venue, including the highway that lead up to the concert gates by attaching beacons to the Bonnaroo signboards along the road. These beacons were then used to send messages informing drivers that they were so many miles away or that they were 30 minutes from the gate and that they should keep their tickets ready to hasten the process.
[Tweet “How Bonnaroo music festival leveraged beacons on highways to send contextual messages to drivers”]
Adding on to that, beacons within the concert premises were used to help consumers locate the nearest water stations or medical tents. This kind of messaging, helped the event organizers boost attendee experience so much so that, 25% of those who downloaded the app, opted in to engage with beacon messaging.
However enhancing attendee experience wasn’t the only aspect of the event that beacons played a critical role in. They were also used to gain insights on where people were inside the venue and how fast the lines were moving. This kind of data could help organizers when they plan out the event for the next year and give them insights on how to to lay out concessions and manage lines better.
Are there any other interesting iBeacon campaigns in the event industry that we might have missed out on? Let us know in the comments below!
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!