With the growth of mobile devices, more and more people are turning to their smartphones to fulfill a host of everyday needs. This is where apps supported with smart technologies like iBeacon really help in enhancing experiences. Keeping this in mind, iBeacon technology is being leveraged across an array of industries today, from hotels to airports to events in order to provide the perfect blend of digital and physical experiences directly to the users’/customers’ smartphones.
According to the Research and Markets report – ‘Global ibeacon Market 2015-2019’, the global iBeacon market is set to grow at a CAGR of 200.3% over the period 2014-2019. Riding on this growing trend, leading brands and businesses are leveraging the technology to not only provide valuable, personalized and immersive experiences to customers but also to capture important insights and data (like frequency of visits, dwell time, loyalty metrics, customer path etc)
In this blog, we present to you 12 diverse industries (with real-life examples) that leverage iBeacon technology to provide truly unique experiences that benefit both customers and brands.
1. Hotels and Hospitality
Hotels and the hospitality industry especially stand to gain from iBeacon technology, since the main focus is on customer experience and less on selling of services. Beacons provide an unparalleled customer experience that is both contextual and personalized. Beacon-enabled apps at hotels can deliver hassle-free navigation assistance, personalized promotions, automated check-ins, keyless entry, easy guest feedback system and other value-added services.
By solving such multiple use-cases, beacons also help in reducing the administrative and human resource costs for hotels.
Leading hospitality chain, Marriott International installed beacons at 14 properties in order to build customer loyalty. Marriott uses the technology to push personalized offers and promotions to guests based on their specific location in the hotel (like, spa, restaurant etc). Sarah Bradley, Director of Rewards Digital Strategy at Marriott International said “Guests at times refer to it as a ‘concierge on their phone,’ which speaks to the possibilities for the program,”. Moving forward, activity recommendations, local area information and local business offers is also expected to be stitched into the app.
The retail industry has been among the front-runners in adopting iBeacon technology. Leading retailers from Target to Macy’s to Walmart have all invested in the technology in order to deliver interactive and enhanced shopping experiences. Beacons in retail can be effectively used to solve a multitude of use-cases from value-added services like ‘click-and-collect’ to loyalty programs that combine mobile payments.
In addition, given the omni-channel nature of retail today, beacons are a boon to retailers as it efficiently stitches together customers’ preferences and purchase habits across online and physical stores. This means that the mobile promotions and content that is sent to customers while they are in the store can be tailored to the customers’ browsing patterns on the store’s online page (or app).
Recently, American pharmacy chain, Rite Aid deployed 4500 beacons across all its stores, making it the largest beacon deployment in the retail sector. Rite Aid plans to leverage beacons to help in precise re-targeting and personalization.
Given that a majority of air travellers carry smartphones, airports and airlines are constantly looking for new technologies that help them connect and effectively engage passengers on their smartphones. iBeacon technology is being used in many leading airports across the globe today and according to a recent article in MediaPost, 74% of airports will be using beacons to provide notices to passengers by the end of 2018.
From flight schedules to navigation to baggage collection, beacons at airports provide a seamless end-to-end experience. Another popular use-case is that of personalized promotions and loyalty programs that can also be used by airlines as well as duty-free shops.
Lufthansa Airlines recently deployed beacons at the Munich Airport to send personalized promotions to its passengers. Another interesting feature is that the passengers can easily track their checked baggage directly through the app (through a link present in the mobile registration card in the app)
4. Schools and Universities
With digital tools becoming a mainstay in many schools, iBeacon technology acts as a natural extension to providing effective learning opportunities. In addition, beacons at schools help with other varied functions like wayfinding, managing access controls to different zones on campus and recording attendance in classes among others.
In an interesting example, the Penn State College uses a beacon-enabled app to assist with wayfinding, that even supports the requirements of the visually challenged. With the app, even the visually challenged can easily navigate crowded walkways and cafeterias, thus helping build a truly inclusive learning environment.
5. Hospitals and Healthcare
iBeacon technology can be invaluable to hospitals by effectively keeping track of devices, assets, hospital staff and patients. Beacons can be leveraged for a wide variety of use cases in hospitals, from innovative and efficient record keeping to streamlining operations to assist in navigation. In addition, given the growth of wearables, beacons can also be paired with wearables in order to deliver highly contextual and hyper local content to patients/users.
The Leiden University Medical Centre at Netherlands uses beacons in one of the most innovative ways. The cardiology department of medical centre has been using a cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) platform along with iBeacon technology to treat patients with Acute myocardial infarction (AMI), in order to ensure quick treatment and better survival rates. Patients are fitted with a beacon-enabled wristband as soon as they are admitted. This band allows the hospital to track the patient’s movements across several labs, thus providing insights about the patient’s location and status in real time.
Beacons at banks provide the perfect channel to combine physical and mobile experiences. Beacons can be of significant use to both customers as well as bank staff; while beacons can effectively communicate personalized offers, wait time updates and educational product/service videos to customers, the bank staff can be updated with branch analytics (busiest days, time etc.) and other important customer insights (returning visitor, dwell time etc).
Beacons can also be leveraged to process mobile payments. In an interesting application of iBeacon technology, Danske Bank introduced its beacon-enabled app called MobilePay in order to simplify money transfers. With the nifty mobile app, customers can easily pay for purchases by simply waving the phone over a smart beacon and then entering the PIN directly on the phone to authenticate the payment. The service witnessed exponential growth in customers during 2015 and is expected to double in 2016 as additional retailers join the network.
iBeacon technology is truly transforming museums by engaging visitors with a variety of informative content from art descriptions to informative videos, that is served at the right time, based on the visitors exact location in the museum. The technology is especially of value to museums as it reduces the efforts of the museum’s in-house art experts as well and reduces the cost of maintaining and updating audio guides as well.
Visitors at the museum are able to view a wealth of information from the history, description of the exhibit to detailed floor maps to museum event details directly on their smartphones, at their own pace.
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) recently invested in cutting edge technologies in order to build an interactive digital experience at the museum. As part of this initiative, the museum launched a beacon-enabled app called ‘Explore’ and installed 700 beacons at different locations in the museum. The app delivers personalized content like turn-by-turn directions, customized recommendations and augmented reality experiences in order to enhance the museum experience.
8. Zoos and Theme Parks
Like in the case of museums, beacons can also be very useful to both visitors and staff at zoos aquariums and theme parks. Beacons at zoos and theme parks can deliver diverse functions like providing informative guided tours, sending useful programme/show reminders, notifying visitors about crowded areas, enabling mobile ticketing and providing a platform to cross-sell products and services.
The Los Angeles Zoo has a beacon-based solution that allows guests to take guided tours of the recently opened Rainforest of the Americas exhibit at the zoo. SeaWorld is another park that has its own beacon-enabled app called ‘Discovery Guide’ app that helps in sending visitors promotional offers, information about animals, conservation status and basic park information
9. Smart Cities
The Internet of Things today is helping build smart cities by stitching together varied data points from public information to weather forecasts to traffic information. Beacon infrastructure in a city can play a critical role in creating the hyper-local and contextual information that is essential for building smart cities. Cities can deploy a network of low-cost beacons to create a private network, to collect and send data back to a centralised hub.
Beacons in cities can also be harnessed for other initiatives like ensuring public safety in remote locations or building a beacon-enabled city app for the visually challenged.
For instance, the Taipei Main Station installed beacons in order to help passengers with navigation. Moving forward this year, the Taipei City Government will begin using smart technologies for city administration, public infrastructure and municipal services, with the aim of introducing smart technologies to 6,000 households.
iBeacon technology is being increasingly used in leading events be it sporting events (like, Wimbledon, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, NBA games etc) or technology events (like CES, Mobile World Congress etc) or even music festivals (like SXSW, Reeperbahn Festival, Bonnaroo Music and Art Festival etc.). From relaying live scores to assisting in navigation/seat finding to easy ticketing, beacons provide numerous opportunities to add value to events while gathering important attendee data.
Many events today also gamify the event experience by organizing scavenger/treasure hunts using beacons. Beacon-based scavenger hunts is a great step towards increasing attendee engagement. Through such initiatives, guests are able to explore the events better while collecting game points in order to win the final prize/reward.
As part of Daytona 500, the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this year will use beacons to take the utility of their app to a new level through advanced wayfinding, personalized notifications/promotions and other functions.
Libraries today are a treasure house of not only books but also online resources. In addition, many libraries host interesting workshops and events. iBeacon technology provides an innovative way to inform patrons about resources and events in a personalized way.
Beacons help fulfill important library functions like book circulation, navigation and shelf information in the most seamless way by directly sending relevant information straight to patrons’ smartphones’.
In a very recent example, the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany installed 245 Bluetooth beacons to assist patrons in navigating the complex library building. As part of this initiative,the library has mapped 90 different points of interest in the library, from, the cafeteria to reading rooms to scanning machines among others.
Apart from providing navigation assistance, the app also offers digital tours of the library and provides additional information about the library’s art collection and other points of interest.
iBeacon technology has such immense scope that its applicability extends to include even offices and enterprises. From attendance tracking to inventory management to conference room booking, beacons at enterprises can help with various process optimization efforts.
An interesting application of the technology can be seen at the well-known office design and space planning firm, Knoll. Knoll has installed beacons at their showroom in order to allow attendees to check out occupancy levels at different stations. The idea behind this initiative is to encourage customers to install beacons at their offices in order to maximize operational efficiency.
Thus, beacons can be practically leveraged in any industry or vertical, in order to deliver valuable, effective and efficient functions. In addition, given the nature of business and commerce today, the need to have contextual relevance across online and physical channels is critical; beacons provide an excellent platform to stitch together online and physical experiences to deliver relevant, data driven experiences.
Beacons not only help businesses generate more revenue but also importantly, aim at delivering tangible customer value that leads to garnering sustainable customer relationships and loyalty.
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!