Beacons are pieces of hardware that use battery friendly, low-energy Bluetooth signals to transmit messages to a smartphone or tablet. They have most commonly been used by hotels, airlines and retailers to reinvent the customer experience. But, tradeshow planners are starting to explore the possibilities as well. Beacons can improve attendee experiences during the show and collect data for future marketing.

At this year’s BIG Show, the National Retail Federation tested beacons. It distributed 1,000 beacons throughout the convention center which provided attendees with enhanced navigation and networking capabilities and increased their ability to send targeted messages. The beacons were tied to the event’s mobile app in order to deliver the attendee experience.

There are a lot interesting uses for beacons in business-to-business marketing for both tradeshow planners and exhibitors:

  • Draw people to your booth with targeted messages on their phones as they navigate the show floor.
  • Create a customized welcome message to attendees as they enter the conference facility.
  • Establish advanced networking opportunities—connecting attendees with other like-minded attendees within close proximately to each other.
  • Collect data on attendee’s time at the show to understand what marketing messages can help direct attendee’s experience.

I had the opportunity to speak with NRF’s Director of IT about these and other options. Learn best practices for using beacons in the article I wrote on

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