How Beacons Are Transforming the Way We Travel

Beacon technology can help crack the confusion that many travellers feel as they attempt to navigate the airport. Airport’s maze-like layouts and the thick layers of information bombarding travellers from every angle has long made them a unique situation for both consumers and retail vendors alike. Passengers tend to be impacted by stressful “feast or famine” time constraints — they either have too little time and are in quite a hurry, or they have a substantial amount of time before their flight and they need to know how to spend it.

Beacons can help simplify both scenarios for travellers. By automating procedures like check-ins while also providing contextual, personalized offers, travellers are able to free up time in their tight schedules and make more adept decisions regarding how to spend their time and money while in the airport. In short, beacons are taking one of the most stressful but necessary situations of our modern lives and making it more pleasant for everyone involved.

The Beacon Rollout

A recent survey found that airports across the globe are implementing some of their biggest IT investment spends ever. In total, around $7 billion will be spent on upgrading data management programs while also bringing new services to the end consumer. Looking at both absolute dollar amounts and portions of revenue, this investment represents the largest effort committed towards technology by airports in the past five years.

Beacons are among the chief focal points of these programs, extending their gradual adoption seen in the past few years. Miami International Airport was one of the first to adopt beacon technology wholesale, but Austin-Bergstrom International in Texas has been tinkering with the technology as far back as the 2000s, albeit using Wi-Fi signals rather than Bluetooth LE.

Joining their ranks will be Eight United Kingdom airports that are beginning new, ambitious beacon programs starting immediately. London Gatwick, Stansted, Newcastle, Southampton, Bristol, East Midlands and Inverness airports are all installing beacons. The focus in these particular applications will be leaning more heavily on advertiser-oriented functions rather than feature-oriented ones.

Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport is following suit with a beacon trial of their own this year, as are the Copenhagen airport and Shanghai Hongqiao.

Endless Possibilities as the Beacon Frontier Expands

Airports and retail vendors are particularly excited about the boundless capabilities of beacon technology, which only seem limited by the imagination. Miami Airport’s division director of information services Maurice Jenkins has broad ambitions for their beacon program. He believes it will be able to revolutionize common problem scenarios seen in airport settings.

When using the example of an unaccompanied minor, he recognized how parents and guardians “want to make sure [their] child got to the gate. If you had an app on your smartphone, you can use the beacons to see when your child gets to the ticket counter, goes through security and reaches the gate,” allowing for constant monitoring and less stress in a potentially worrisome situation.

Jenkins hopes to expand the application of beacons further by reaching out to developers and seeing what they can come up with. “We’re even thinking about doing a hackathon to create [new] applications for the beacons,” he expressed. “We now have the technology, so now let’s see what we can build around it.”

Retailers and service providers like airlines are ecstatic about the opportunities beacons will bring them, too. Targeted offers and automated loyalty are two fields beacons can offer the most functionality. CEO of marketing for the company behind the UK airport rollout promises tangible results, saying that “based on our experience, we have already seen a 24% click-through rate from our beacon deployments, which is higher than traditional forms of mobile marketing.”

If you want your retail brand to achieve new heights in an airport setting or anywhere that you want customers to hear your voice above the information noise, consider adding a beacon program to your marketing arsenal. Visit Digital Social Retail’s product page to discover how vital beacons can be to your digital out-of-home campaigns and how simple managing beacon messages can be with our digital convergence platform.

Start your Social Retail campaign today!

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