South by Southwest App Leverages 1,000 Venue-Wide Beacons
If you’ve ever been to the South by Southwest Interactive, Film and Music Festival, you know that navigating its 6,000 official events amid tens of thousands of attendees can create an overwhelming FOMO effect. To make the massive event feel smaller and more communal, organizers leveraged the event’s proprietary app, the SXSW GO Mobile Guide, to cultivate hyperlocal networking among attendees, as well as enhance session engagement, registration and content. But the real killer app, so to speak, was the 1,000-beacon network organized into specific beacon zones throughout Austin.
Organizers worked with Eventbase and Gimbal’s beacon hardware, which adds a secure layer to its devices, along with mobile marketers Urban Airship for the push messaging component. To tap into the technology, attendees were required to have their mobile device Bluetooth-enabled and needed to opt in to location-based notifications.
With many festivalgoers making their way to Austin just as much for the networking as the content, the app incorporated a tool that offered users a detailed view of other attendees in their area, making it more efficient for attendees to connect. Integrating with the event’s own SXSocial system, attendee profiles and tags that were set up online synced with the mobile profiles.
This beacon-enabled feature took networking to another level by prompting those entering an official SXSW venue to check in, and to see who else was in the vicinity at that time. The feature armed attendees with knowledge of who the players were and which of them they might want to connect with (or, presumably, avoid). It also provided a hyperlocal overview of events in the area, helping attendees navigate sessions, films and performances.
New in the 2015 SXSW GO app, the Attendee Match tool used tags tied to users’ SXSocial profiles to provide an in-app view of fellow attendees in similar industries, with shared interests or seeking specific content. The feature distilled tens of thousands of possible networking opportunities down to a curated list that enabled more meaningful connections and knocked out irrelevant ones.
The app further fostered productive networking by enabling check-ins and session-level discussions. As attendees entered venues that were set up with “SessionLive,” they were alerted with a welcome notification and invited to join the conversation. Other participants who opted to join in were visible during the session, enabling real-time interactions.
Beacons were key to bringing a hyperlocal element to the event experience. The technology informed users of what was important—at the right time and place—which optimized their overall experience. In total, there were more than seven million beacon pings by app users and 415,000 notifications were sent. LinkedIn, who?