What 3 Trailblazers Confirmed About Using Beacons at Events

What 3 Trailblazers Confirmed About Using Beacons at Events
09 May 2014

By Michelle Bruno

Recently, Plan Your Meetings (PYM), Topi, and On Location Engagements (OLE) collaborated to address the process and potential of using beacons at events. Collectively, they confirmed some theories about what beacons can do and where the technology will go next.

PYM is a media property owned by Atlanta Metropolitan Publishing (AMP). Its PYM Live event series is a travelling workshop that stops in multiple major cities throughout the year. Topi is an event digital guide and networking mobile app. During PYM Live in San Francisco, it was integrated with OLE’s beacon-based content-delivery system.

The San Francisco version of PYM Live was the perfect low-stress environment for the collaboration. With 55 attendees, a predominantly iOS crowd and a tech-savvy organizer at the helm, many of the usual distractions (high user density, multiple mobile platforms) were eliminated right from the beginning.
The three companies were interested in answering a number of questions:

    •    Would Topi’s platform (integrated with OLE) recognize a beacon?
    •    Would attendees interact with the beacons?
    •    What kind of data and insight would surface from beacon usage?

Attendees were instructed to download the Topi app onto their Apple devices. As users passed by a beacon, they would receive a pop-up message (question or “fast fact”) indicating that the device recognized it. Users could also opt in for more content and obtain access to one of five different HTML pages (a different one for every beacon) created by PYM planner, Kristi Casey Sanders.

Not only could the Topi app (using OLE) recognize the beacons, it could recognize individuals. “When I saw the reports from Topi, it was really interesting because I could tell who was hanging out where, how long it took them to get from one part of the program to the next, and who was grouped together. I could also sort by time and location. When you talk about big data being the future of conferences, this is a perfect illustration of that,” Sanders says.

During the course of the event, content triggered by the OLE beacons was delivered a total of 110 times from five different beacon locations. The most popular area of the event was the wine tasting. The beacon stationed there was visited by almost one third of the participants who spent an average of two minutes each reading the content delivered to them in that area.

It’s clear to all the players in the PYM Live “test” that there’s value in using beacons at events for all stakeholders. Attendees gain access to relevant content and event organizers, exhibitors and sponsors receive very specific data on how attendees behave.

While beacons have tremendous potential for geolocation and content delivery, they could also be the future of lead tracking for exhibitors, says Topi’s Eric Francois. “If someone has been in a booth for five seconds, maybe that doesn’t qualify as a lead. But, if I serve up content and that person accepts it, that’s something else,” he explains.

The next phase for beacons in geolocation and content delivery is refinement: pinpointing an attendee’s location as they walk through an event and offering specific content to individuals based on the individual and not the location. As PYM Live is organized in multiple cities throughout the year, it’s likely those enhancements will be showing up soon.