You’ve probably been in marketing meetings recently where the discussion turns to what can be done to improve on-site experience for your visitors and how to engage with them better. You might already have a mobile app, so you check that off the list. So, what’s next? The next logical step may be to integrate beacon technology into your app. But what exactly could these “beacon-things” do for your attraction and how could they help?
First, we need to understand what beacons are and how they work.
Beacons are just what their name implies: little wireless radios that emit a Bluetooth signal over and over again announcing "Here I am! Here I am! Here I am!..." That's it; by themselves beacons are not of much use. However, if your organization’s mobile app is programmed to listen for these beacons and knows how to respond, they can be used in some pretty amazing ways.
When a user’s app "hears" a beacon, it recognizes the beacon's unique identity and identifies the approximate distance away based on the radio signal strength. The app can then use this information to figure out how to respond to the nearby user.
Now that you know what beacons are, how can your attraction use them?
Let's say Susan is an app user who's visiting the park today. She walks past the beacon at the main entrance and the app is now aware that she's here. The app knows it's Susan because she signed into her profile on her app. It also knows she is one of our loyal visitors because the database shows this is her 3rd visit to our attraction this month! The app is programmed to reward visitors who come 3 or more times in a month, so it immediately displays an on-screen alert that says, "Hi, Susan. Welcome back to the park! We want to reward your loyalty with a free behind-the-scenes tour of our park. Stop by the customer service booth when you're ready."
The ability to identify your customer and engage them with personalized service as they enter the park is just one example of the personal messaging which enables customers to buy-in to your brand and increase brand loyalty.
Beacon integration allows for you to communicate with users in different ways based on their location in or around your attraction. This technology allows you to remind people about things that are going on in a specific area or your attraction as a whole. For instance, your app might have instructions to display a welcome message to a user who's just come within range of a beacon outside one of your exhibits or attractions: "Welcome to Cat Country. Don't miss the Bengal Tigers!" Or conversely, when the user leaves it might say, "Thanks for visiting Cat Country." Furthermore, you can let people know about keeper chats, exhibit tours and other bits of information that are happening within that location throughout the day.
User Engagement and Experience
With beacons, you have the ability to trigger new and relevant content to people who are on-site and engaged with what’s going on at the attraction. You aren’t limited by the amount of space on signage. For instance, when users are viewing a painting in a museum, you can provide information about what the critics were saying about the piece in its era. If it’s an animal like a tiger at a zoo, you can provide video of the tiger running around in the African Savanna.
Having an engaged audience keeps you in the palm of their hand, literally. As people linger in front of exhibits for an extended period of time, you can encourage them to donate, sponsor, become members, rent out the facility, etc. Is there a better time to reach out to your audience than when they are on-site and seeing everything first-hand?
You also have the ability to upsell different options for people who are looking to heighten their experience. If you offer behind-the-scenes tours, prompt people to sign up for those right after they watch the show. If there is a special event happening that night at your attraction, remind them to get their tickets now and encourage them to come back.
Other instances where this technology is useful is for customers who are already in some kind of purchasing process. If they have to pass through a gift shop or membership office before leaving, offer them a coupon or discount to spend some time in the gift shop. If the weather is 100 degrees outside, encourage them to swing by a concession stand and grab a water. Using this technology encourages impulse buying behavior.
In the days of attractions past, it was typical to be stopped by people and asked about the experience. Low engagement rates have led to a decrease in this surveying method. Beacon integration allows you to request the valuable after-park review without the annoyance to the user and in their own time, such as when returning home after their visit. When a user leaves the attraction, they pass a beacon that triggers a survey which asks them a couple basic questions about their experience. This is a much more passive way for your attraction to glean information about how things are going, and a more consistent way to obtain that information instead of the semi-annual, in-person surveys.
Learning how users navigate throughout your park provides you the ability to understand what places within your attraction are the most popular and peak times. This information can help you manage your staff in the future. You can measure how many people are passing by beacons, whether they are new or returning visitors and how long they stay within range of that beacon. All of this is in addition to the analytics you get from the app itself such as downloads, session length, user flow, etc.
Integrating beacons doesn’t mean a complete overhaul of the marketing department. This technology complements traditional marketing initiatives and provides an up to date method of research that will move your marketing forward. Beacons assist in collecting information about your visitors while they are on-site and engaged with what they are seeing and doing.
We enjoy building apps and helping organizations better connect with their audience. Want to talk more about this powerful technology or have a question about how your attraction can use it? Leave a comment below or contact our team for more information.