Beacons: The Favorite Solution To Engagement — But What Are They?

These days there is a lot of positive buzz around beacons. It is not uncommon to hear them praised as a crucial part of a new frontier in event intelligence. They are said to enhance the management and oversight of all aspects of visitor experience from auto check-in to networking. But what are beacons? And can they really allow us to understand attendee behaviors and experiences in a meaningful way?

Put simply, beacons are location-tracking technologies employed in the badging of events and conferences. At a 10,000 foot view, beacons are used as a tactic to ping shoppers at brick and mortar retailers and deliver a coupon – encouraging them to purchase a specific item.

Beacons allow you to track the flow and movement of individuals throughout an event. The promise of beacons is that they let you passively track user dwell time, flow and paths through an event. Collectively, the thinking goes, this information will paint a comprehensive picture of an attendee’s engagement with the event. But…

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There is no doubt that beacons are an incredibly powerful and informative tool for event directors. The reality is, however, that there is more to engagement than physical movement. Sure, an attendee might stand at one location on the show floor for a long period of time. Maybe they pass by several booths or areas of interest to event sponsors. But this attendee might not have been engaged at all: she could have been lost in conversation with an old colleague he or she ran into, or buried in texts and emails on their phone, or checking Instagram. A beacon would register distracted attendees like this as engaged based on their physical movements, but any attendee may be less engaged than the beacon data implies.

It’s important that we do not treat beacons as if
they were a cure-all for event engagement.

Beacon data sets, alone or isolated, can be inaccurate, leading to false positives in data evaluations. Additionally, given recent user privacy legislation, attendees may simply opt out of beacon tracking. Those who sell beacons as the all-in-one solution for engagement are hyper-focusing at one data set in the lifecycle of the attendee. In truth, beacon data is much more useful in conjunction with other modes of engagement monitoring. Real engagement is the amalgamation of various data sets, segmented and resolved to get the complete actions, behaviors, and preferences of an attendee. Beacons become powerful when attendee interaction data, like session attendance and survey feedback, is then combined with their physical movement data.

This combination of information allows you to segment your users and get a complete view of the user in action while circumventing the issue of user opt-out from anyone data-type. This holistic approach provided super rich insights with far fewer assumptions about the meaning behind an individual lingering in a room. When beacon data is combined with these other data sources, it allows event managers to root out false positives and get a true sense of attendee engagement.

RainFocus offers solutions that integrate beacons into a comprehensive package of event data that can provide a more complete, accurate picture of attendee engagement.

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