How Beacons Are Revolutionizing Travel and Tourism

Location is everything, especially when it comes to beacons and tourism. If a business implements a beacon in their physical location, it can then detect a nearby customer’s exact position and send timely messages to their smartphone or tablet. When a person wanders past a museum in Berlin, for example, they might receive a notification on their mobile device that they are standing beside a world-class museum. If they decide to enter the museum, a beacon can enrich their visit by sharing relevant information about whichever exhibit they are currently exploring.

If this sounds like it could lead to an unwanted digital overload, don’t worry; for a beacon to locate and communicate with a customer, that person needs to download the corresponding app, enable Bluetooth, and opt-in to receive notifications, making beacon marketing a mutual relationship. With the opportunity to communicate with customers at the exact point of sale, it’s no wonder that beacon technology has been catching fire within the travel and tourism industry. Keep reading to learn three ways that beacons are creating a better experience for both travelers and businesses.

How tourist attractions can use beacons to entice visitors

From guidebooks to Top 10 lists, there is an abundance of information available for tourists visiting a new city. Although someone travelling to Toronto might read about a great restaurant or see a picture of a beautiful art gallery, that information is filed away along with 800 other attractions they scrolled past online. Once that person is actually exploring the streets of Toronto, are they trying to remember which part of town a specific attraction is in, or are they focused on the dozens of attractions right in front of them? No level of planning can replace the spontaneity of travel. Whether people are lost or simply wandering, it is more appealing to stumble across a gem than to try and navigate somewhere else. Beacon technology is the best way for businesses to leverage this immediacy; they can alert passers-by of available spa appointments and upcoming tour times, share updates on amusement park wait times, and offer discounted entry to museums or galleries. By communicating with customers at the exact selling location, attractions can take advantage of foot traffic and entice travelers to enter their venue.

Once customers are inside, beacons can enhance the guest experience by providing virtual maps, sharing relevant tips and facts in multiple languages, and offering promotions and discounts. In Memphis, Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion has used beacon technology to offer visitors an iPad tour, which includes exclusive videos, audio recordings, photos, and interactive activities. By delivering rich and timely content, visitors receive a more vivid understanding of Elvis’ life at Graceland. The museum notes that not only have customers embraced the new features, but there has also been an increase in engagement from younger visitors. Many travelers will not be willing to shell out money for an audio guide with bulky headphones, but their mobile phone is most likely already in their hand. With smartphone use skyrocketing, beacons are an effective way to reach customers of every age and to engage them using a platform that is accessible, intuitive, and immediate.

How beacons are transforming airports

Beacon technology is facilitating every aspect of travel, including transportation. Airports have the potential to communicate important information about gate changes and flight delays, as well as offer updates on security wait times. In a busy, noisy airport, guests do not always hear important announcements or see relevant notices, which can lead to confusion and missed flights. Instead, imagine receiving notifications on your mobile phone that are specific to your travel plans; you can learn that your gate has changed and access a map directing you to the right location.

In addition to enabling direct communication, beacons can also increase business for airport retailers. Miami International Airport offers an app that helps guests locate the correct gate, while simultaneously notifying them of nearby shops and restaurants. The airline Virgin Atlantic tested out a program in Heathrow Airport that allows Upper Class passengers to receive special offers as they move through the airport. Beacons are an effective way to personalize and simplify the travel experience, while also enticing guests to take advantage of airport vendors.

How hotels can use beacons to improve guest satisfaction

Hotels across the world are adopting beacons to act as an e-concierge, offering accelerated check-in, virtual maps, and a platform to easily order food or request hotel services. Starwood Hotels & Resorts have even allowed guests to unlock their rooms using a digital key on their smartphones. These features cut down on wait times and phone calls, while facilitating a smooth, comfortable stay. Beacons also present a great opportunity for hotels to partner with nearby businesses in order to offer discounts to their guests. For example, Marriott International hotels used beacon technology to launch LocalPerks, an app that provides guests with location-based offers for shops and restaurants.

From transportation and accommodation, to museums and shops, beacons are transforming every aspect of travel and tourism. With mobile devices only growing in number and popularity, beacon technology is quickly becoming the best way to directly communicate with your customers and offer them an enriched, interactive experience. And with the tourism industry saturated with options, beacons give businesses a competitive edge by allowing them to market to the people most likely to become customers — those standing right outside their door.

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