In case you’ve been living under a rock, SXSW just wrapped up and the blogosphere is buzzing with tech trends that you need to know now. Instead of giving you the 7 things you need to know about… post, we’re focusing on one technological innovation that is revolutionizing the way event planners measure attendee engagement and behavior. 


Bluetooth beacons were first introduced last year at SXSW. This year, they ran the show…literally! The short range location technology offers dynamic functionality that can be incorporated into any type of event. The beacons offer event attendees unprecedented integration possibilities. Whether you’re tracking movement across a trade show floor or feeding customized artist information to museum goers, one thing is clear: Bluetooth beacons are redefining the way companies engage their audiences.

Still wondering how you can get the most out of Bluetooth beacons? SXSW is the biggest example to date of the technology in action. Over 1000 iBeacons, Apple’s version of the tech trend, were positioned around the Texas convention center last week feeding constant location-based information and targeted content to festival goers. People were automatically connected to nearby brands and encouraged to engage on more holistic scale than ever before!

While the burgeoning technology is still young, it’s come a long way from its humble beginnings as a retail tool. When connected, users can navigate trade show floors with interactive maps and check in to meetings. The beacons have even “gamified” by encouraging users to participate in brand scavenger hunts! Many companies are turning to Bluetooth beacons as a way to engage the ever-elusive millennial. They rely on its ability to engage the internet generation in otherwise static experiences.


The wide scale use of beacons at this years SXSW also shed light on some areas for improvement. Feedback from the festival showed that some guests were annoyed with what they felt was an invasion of privacy. With cyber security being at the forefront of the tech conversation, and even taking up a portion of this year’s festival, many people are skeptical about the unsolicited marketing tactics. Others complained of the exclusion of Android-compatible technology. Some cynics noted that in order to engage, the Bluetooth function on their phones must be on constantly, which any iPhone owner knows, is one of the quickest ways to drain a battery. According to Startups of Puerto Rico representative, Pedro Aponte, “Soon you will see iBeacon technology everywhere, in shopping malls, hospitals, parks – you name it. But it has to balance the information needs of the customer with the desire of the business to sell more. In the end, it’s all about the content.”


Despite its newness, Bluetooth beacon technology is unequivocally, the most avant-garde innovation in digital marketing. It’s ability to collect, interpret, and utilize specialized user data allows companies and event organizers provide targeted communication to specialized audiences unlike ever before!

Have any of you thought about using beacon technology at your events or festivals? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

For trending information on SXSW Interactive Bluetooth Beacons, check out #HowtoBeacon.


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