Last June, Apple announced a new technology called iBeacon: “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence.” The focus of this technology has been mainly geared towards the retail industry for mobile purchasing and presenting deals to consumers, but there is a lot of potential for destination marketing as well.
Although probably not the right fit for state agencies, it is perfect for convention centers, large city DMOs and the hospitality industry. This technology allows you to transmit information to people based on their proximity to the iBeacon device. Your first thought might be to use it for advertising and promotions, but the potential goes far beyond that to offering more dynamic services to your visitors. Below are a few scenarios geared specifically for the travel industry.
Acting like a virtual concierge, you can fill un-booked rooms, available spa times, tee times, etc. by offering last-minute deals to your visitors for specific times, getting back lost revenue by filling in appointment gaps. If you have multiple restaurants on your grounds you can manage traffic and wait times by offering the other restaurant as an alternative if one becomes too busy, keeping people on your property instead of spending their money off grounds.
If you have a large resort you can help your visitors out by having virtual property maps that allow the visitor to see where they are at all times. If you host a lot of events and activities, you can also use iBeacon to provide information on these as well.
Although this implementation would be grander, there are some great ways a destination can use this technology to make their city more user friendly to visitors (and locals alike). For example, a walking tour where you don’t have to scan a QR code or start or stop a recording – giving the visitor a more natural experience but also allowing them to walk it at their pace.
You could also provide translated information for transportation and/or public or emergency services in multiple languages relative to the person’s location and language settings. You could allow people to purchase transit passes, get times and schedules and board public transportation using iBeacon.
By placing iBeacons around the convention center you could create an app that would allow people to see capacities, speaker notes and schedule updates as they walk past a room. You could even have a map that shows foot traffic so you can make sure you are hitting the trade booths at the right times and receive contest and show announcements in real time. Turn on a sharing feature to allow your contacts to find you as you are moving around.
Most conferences are a blur of meetings, information, and parties business dinners, so increasing the accessibility of this kind of information is becoming more and more important – and now there is an easier way to do it. These are only a few scenarios of the many possibilities with using iBeacon. If you are looking for the next big thing to set your destination apart from the rest, then you will want to make sure iBeacon is part of your next mobile app strategy.