Using iBeacons at Real World Events

A little over a year ago, iBeacons made their way to the retail market in a mass deployment to 254 Apple stores. Since then, they’ve had technology enthusiasts and event marketers alike anticipating the splash this fresh technology would make in the world of events. If you’re thinking about using iBeacons at your next event or are looking for ways to enhance your attendee's experience, read on for some real world experience.


If you haven’t seen them yet, iBeacons are transmitters that give off unique signals using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, which gives them long battery life and have no need for a WiFi connection. By hiding these discreetly-sized iBeacons around an event venue, the possibilities are endless for new ways to engage audiences through location-based notifications, data collection, and gamification.


iBeacons hand.jpg


Here at Liferay, we were enamored by the location-based targeting and easy integration with our Liferay Events app and piloted the technology at three conferences last year. We reaped the benefits from using iBeacons by paying attention to the following details during event execution.


Prep the Audience

There are a ton of details when it comes to using iBeacons, so develop a plan focused on enhancing the attendee experience. Ensure you properly market the use of iBeacons to your attendees so that they will know to enable the Bluetooth on their mobile devices and download any corresponding event apps prior to arriving. You could have a great engagement plan, but if no one knows how to participate, then it’s all for naught.


Don’t Be Pushy

Avoid becoming a nuisance to attendees with excessive push notifications by sticking to a pre-determined schedule. Be strategic in your location-based targeting. At Liferay Symposium, we decided to use location-based notifications to welcome our attendees at the main entrance and flash sponsor logos upon arrival to our networking reception. We also reminded attendees to rate sessions when they left meeting rooms which got us 5x more feedback than post-event surveys in past years.



Test it Out

Schedule plenty of setup and testing time. Map out where the iBeacons will live on your master floorplan so you can easily locate your iBeacons during or after the show -- it’s ok to get creative in your placement! And before going live, test, test, test! iOS and Android compatibility makes iBeacons accessible for diverse audiences, but with the plethora of Android devices out there, testing as many Android devices as possible will ensure a bug-free experience for the maximum number of users.


Whether your objective is engaging your audience through location-based notifications, driving traffic to sponsor booths, or collecting attendee data, incorporating iBeacons is a great way to enhance your event. If you have an iBeacons implementation story to share as an event marketer or attendee, I’d love to hear it! Leave me a comment!  


For a complete diagnostic of iBeacons and more helpful tools check out, Finding Your Way Around iBeacons for Event Marketing. Included in the e-Book:

  • Annoyance Checklist
  • Location Sensor Comparison Chart
  • Android vs. iOS Considerations
  • 2 Case Studies from Real Conferences

Download the eBook

beacons = new hardware,/network cost and maintenance
wifi = existing hardware/network

wifi wins.
Thanks for the comment! Indeed, iBeacons are not for everyone. Incorporating them assumes the inherent interest in investing in new hardware and the benefit of not relying on WiFi is that some events do not have dedicated connection in all meeting space. So, having them scattered across the floor plan does no rely on that ever-coveted connection.
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