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Beacon technology is here and it is gaining the attention of retailers and event marketers alike—and for good reason, too. What is beacon technology? A beacon is a device that enables location accuracy via something called Bluetooth® low energy (BLE).

A recent study found those who received a promotional offer through beacon technology were 19 times more likely to interact with a brand. And Business Insider® predicts beacons will directly influence retail sales to the tune of $44 billion by year end! Event marketers are cashing in, too. From providing self-guided tours and product demonstrations to gamifying events and activities, beacons have a lot to offer.

Beacon basics
To understand how trade show and other event marketers can use beacons, it may be helpful to first gain a better understanding of how they work. In a nutshell, a beacon detects a device (tablet or smartphone) and delivers content to that device when it comes within close proximity to the beacon. Users must download an app in order to receive beacon communication, so if you plan to use them at a future trade show, you may want to consider sending attendees an email ahead of time asking them to download your app. Or, imprint a banner with a quick response (QR) code for easy download at the show’s entry.

Trade show ideas
Now that you have some of the beacon basics, we’re ready to discuss using beacons at trade shows to engage visitors and enhance their experience. Check out these ideas for both exhibitors and trade show organizers:

  • Deliver instant information: Beacons can be used to provide attendees with instant information. Use this technology to send product info, invites for demos, coupons or special offers. Attendees just need to walk up to your booth or a product, and all the information they need can be delivered right to their smartphone or tablet. Visitors can choose to either view the information right away or save it for consumption at a later time. Or add an element of fun and use beacon technology to register attendees waiting in line into drawings for prizes, like a car safety kit or tablet stand.
  • Map locations:  Say goodbye to paper maps. Beacons can be a great way for attendees to navigate to booths, find a conference room for private meetings, or take a self-guided tour of your facility right from the show floor.
  • Scavenger hunts: Beacon mapping capabilities can be used for fun and games, such as a scavenger hunt or treasure expedition. Take customers to different parts of your booth or to find treasures at different kiosks throughout the show floor, keeping visitors engaged with your brand and having fun. Consider rewarding those who complete certain actions or finish an expedition with a luggage tag or travel bag. Or enter them into a drawing for a wheeled carry-on or digital luggage scale.

With beacon technology, the sky’s the limit when it comes to engaging and interacting with trade show visitors. Can you think of other ways to use beacons at your next event or show?

Stroud, Forrest. “Beacon.” What Is a Beacon? A Webopedia Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 21 Jan. 2016.

Abramovich, Giselle. “What’s In Store For Beacon Marketing?” CMO.com. Adobe Systems, Inc., 03 Sept. 2014. Web. Retrieved 21 Jan. 2015.

Petro, Greg. “2015: The Year Of The Mobile Beacon (Part One).” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 06 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 Jan. 2016.

Genarella, Nicole. “Use iBeacons to Enhance Your Trade Show Exhibit Engagement.” 3D EXHIBITS. N.p., 20 Jan. 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 Jan. 2016.

Bender, Adam. “Bluetooth Beacons Coming to Trade Shows.” TechWorld. IDG Communications, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. Retrieved 21 Jan. 2016.

Girish, Devika. “How Beacons can Transform Event Management and Trade Shows.” Beaconstac RSS. N.p., 07 Aug. 2014. Web. Retrieved 21 Jan. 2016.

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