We’re going to pick up where we left off and talk about the next trend, beacons.
Beacons have been around for awhile, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less cool! But have they reached their potential? Did our bold prediction prove true?! It did! Beacons are becoming more and more common at events, helping conferences, trade shows, and meetings become more personal, engaging, and helping attendees flow seamlessly throughout events. There’s a bunch of different ways beacons are being used and they all have the potential to do so much more in the coming years.
One of the big beacon trends that evolved over the past several months (!) and will continue to evolve going forward are wearable beacons. Corbin Ball talked about them in his 2018 event tech trend predictions and we agree, they’re a trend to look out for, but we want to talk about how wearable beacons are being used right now. One of the most popular uses of this wearable tech that immediately comes to mind is their use at the Disney parks.
The MagicBand is one of Disney’s creations that makes attending one of their parks even more “magical.” The bands can be used for almost everything within the park – from being your wearable ticket into the park (replacing the old fast pass paper tickets) to buying food and acting as your room key. Before going to the park, you can make a reservation for lunch or dinner online and choose what you would like to eat as well. As you walk towards the restaurant, an RFID chip in your MagicBand will alert the restaurant you’re on your way, and a cast member will be waiting to greet you. You can sit wherever you want in the restaurant, and beacons ping the servers to let them know where to bring your pre-ordered food after you’ve found your seat.
Although currently just used in DisneyWorld Orlando, imagine the uses and benefits of the MagicBand tech outside of Disney. In the events industry, wouldn’t it be amazing to hand your attendees a magic bracelet or badge or even just use their phone for all of their event needs? You could eliminate the need for attendees to wait to order and get served if they’re able to place their orders beforehand and have the servers get pinged when they arrive. Expedite the sign-in process by having your attendees walk past beacons instead of clogging up queues. Your attendees will appreciate the ease of only having to keep track of one item at your event, instead of key cards and badges and papers galore.
Another really cool use of beacon technology is indoor wayfinding. As we all know, there are plenty of mobile event apps that can guide us to the event venue, but once you’re inside, it can be hard to navigate the space and find exactly where we’re supposed to be. This is where beacon navigation comes into play. Enter where you want to go on your phone and the beacons will ping you with directions as you walk by them, helping you to get where you need to go quickly and efficiently. Pretty cool, right?
Target recently announced they are in the process of rolling out beacon wayfinding in their stores. The beacons are placed around the stores and are integrated with their app. When a customer wants to find something in Target they simply pull it up in the app which takes them to a live map, showing them where they are in the store in relation to where the item is they’re trying to find. Although Target is in the retail industry, you can use this example to see how this technology can be used at your events going forward.
Beacons have come a long way since last year, and looking back it makes us realize just how much more potential there is in this technology. We can’t wait to look back in another year and see where this technology has gone.
Next up: trend number 5 – Live Q&A and polling.