Easy, fun, use cases for beacons
Are you sitting at a hackathon in the Internet of Things track, staring down some beacons and not sure where to go?
Or maybe you’re a marketing executive who wants to utilize new technologies, but you aren’t exactly sure how to make beacons work for your business?
Look no further! Below are several variations each of two of the most common use cases for beacons.
The Guided Tour
Maybe you run a museum, botanical garden, or would like to create a walking tour of a small town. The beacon-enabled tour is one of the most obvious beacon cases, because it hinges upon one of the most critical benefits of beacon technology – indoor positioning. Here is a little bit about how this applies in museums:
Museums are taking their audio tours to the next level by using beacon-aware mobile guides. This allows for information to be available about more exhibits than with a traditional audio tour guides, and for visitors to take their own route through the museum. Creating an entire app also allows interactive personalized content in addition to the short audio blurbs. Nonetheless, some galleries are struggling with creating a seamless experience where the beacons don’t distract from the artwork. Leaders in the field include the Brooklyn Museum and the MUMOK (Museum Moderner Kunst – Wien).
Beyond museums, beacons are being used for tours of entire towns, such as Beaumaris:
The small town of Beaumaris, UK has become the first town to become completely beacon-enabled. The town of 2,000 near Liverpool has installed over 100 beacons at local landmarks, shops, and restaurants and created an app that acts as a guide to the town. As tourists stroll through town, the app interacts with beacons to provide information about landmarks they’re passing, as well as exclusive deals at shops and restaurants. The app also includes useful information such as the ferry schedule. For tourists, the Beaumaris Beacons app is a one-stop shop for learning about the history of the town and finding local hangouts. For local businesses, it’s a boost in tourism dollars. Everyone wins!
Bigger cities are jumping on the trend too, check out Amsterdam’s beacon mile:
Amsterdam has outfitted its historical and museum district with a 2km path of beacons, creating a virtual guided walking tour. This is the first step in Amsterdam’s journey towards becoming a true smart city. The path of beacons provides location-based content to users of the the associated app, allowing them to learn more about landmarks they’re passing and receive directions for getting to the next landmark. Several of the beacons along the route not only send push notifications, but also collect non-personally identifiable information about those walking the mile, which is available to developers.
There are MANY more cases where beacons have been used to construct walking tours, allowing a greater degree of flexibility in pacing, ordering, and granularity of locations than traditional guided tours or audio blocks. If none of the scenarios above sparks your interest, consider any kind of continuous mobile engagement that depends on movement through physical space – perhaps gamified or content driven. These, too, are tours!
The Reward Program
Everyone is sick and tired of having a separate loyalty card for every store and coffee shop, but what is the digital solution? Some shops allow you to check in by keying in your phone number at the time of checkout, for example Walgreens in the United States, but this takes time and slows down the line. Beacons are a fantastic solution because they allow a customer to get their rewards points without needing to carry anything extra, slow down the checkout line, or actually do anything at all! Beacons can be set to reward customers at the point of entry or at the point of sale, by adjusting how close someone must be to the beacon to receive their reward points. Here is an example from a grocery chain:
Austria’s leading supermarket chain, BILLA, is using beacon technology in conjunction with its existing deals club app to offer customers instant coupons on items they are standing near. This creates new value for consumers – studies show that consumers value rewards and loyalty programs more than reviews when considering a company, and that grocery is the vertical in which rewards are most sought after. BILLA hopes to increase loyal shoppers and revenues. The app has the potential to offer users personalized deals based on purchase history or the contents of their shopping list.
Hotels can reward their loyal customers in the same way:
International Hotels Group (IHG) has created an app that is the frequent traveler’s best friend. It allows the user to check into their room and unlock the door without ever stopping at the front desk, as well as providing custom welcome messages and drink vouchers for loyal guests. Currently only the welcome messages and drink vouchers operate using beacon technology. When a member of the loyalty program walks into the hotel, the IHG app interacts with beacons to send them a welcome message. When they enter the lobby bar the IHG app interacts with beacons and offers them a voucher or coupon if they have reached a certain level of points or loyalty status.
Here is another example from sports stadiums:
Sports teams are using beacons integrated with the team’s app to offer a more individualized and rewarding digital fan experiences. This includes custom welcome messages, giveaways during games, and point-based loyalty programs. Ole Miss, an American university, is using its beacon-based loyalty program to increase attendance at less popular events, such as women’s games or rugby, in order to encourage diversity and amplify homefield advantage. The beacons detect that a person has entered the stadium during a game and the app automatically awards them loyalty points for that event. Points are redeemable for school swag.
Every type of business can have a reward program, and studies have routinely shown that consumers value rewards for loyalty. Whether it’s checking into a hotel, showing up for a game, or anything else that happens in the real world, beacons can help you reward people for showing up. This, too, is a very easy implementation and great way to track foot traffic as well. If a traditional reward point system doesn’t make sense for your context, consider any sort of incentive for people to walk through your door or make it to your cash register, sometimes a simple “welcome” or “thank you” is a reward too!