5 Ways Universities Will Leverage Beacons in 2016

The bar is raised for campus tours & events

Image of Welcome Week Fair at GMU

Beacons and proximity marketing aren’t just for commercial business uses. Higher education will use them to enrich the on-campus experience in 2016 (okay – maybe 2017). Here are some ways beacons will be used along with examples from the commercial world. Beacon technology offers higher ed some key advantages like reduced costs and increased efficiency. Some campuses have already begun to deploy beacon networks. The need to compete will drive other universities and colleges to deploy their own and enrich the student’s, alumnae, and other visitor’s mobile experience in order to compete.

Registrations, Check-ins, and Queues

Universities have events where hundreds or thousands of people arrive on campus: arrival week, homecoming, sports events, performing arts, and guest speakers to name a few. Beacons will be used to reduce if not eliminate the registration and check-in lines. If queues are necessary they can be digital. Once a visitor arrives to the venue a beacon communicates with the app that manages the digital registration, check in, or queue. They will use the app to check in, register or get in the queue. Apps will provide feedback on waiting times; who to see, when to see them and where; they’ll provide next steps and guide the user. And higher ed will even take advantage of digital ticketing and coupons driven by proximity.

Distribution of Digital Materials When Visitors Arrive

Events at universities often come with printed materials like admissions literature, schedules, maps, etc – some of which are mailed in advance of event or handed out at the event. It’s not uncommon that a large percentage of these materials are thrown away. This year universities will realize they can save big on printing costs and wasted time using on-demand digital downloads driven by beacon technology and the school app. Universities will deliver marketing and admissions materials in digital format when a prospect and their family or alumni and V.I.P.s arrive on campus. They’ll provide brochures, event tickets, maps, digital certificates, even meal tickets for the cafeteria and discount coupons for the bookstore.

Directions and Building Information

Because beacons are hyper-local they are perfect to aid navigation within buildings as well as outside. Universities will use their apps and beacon networks to guide students to classrooms, through the stacks of the library to find information and resources, and even help them navigate around campus. The apps will also deliver information about what’s inside the buildings including the programs, research being done and the labs it’s done in, faculty offices and their hours, and histories of the buildings with factoids.

Visitor Q&A

While guests are on campus for an event (or even just a visit) staff, faculty, and even select students will take part in digital question and answer sessions. As guests walk around campus and within buildings, they will use the university apps to ask questions. The questions could be anything like directions to the Admissions office, what the school’s mascot is, what restaurants are on campus, or where a first aid station is. The people designated to respond will answer the questions via the app.

Networking

Some college campuses are rather large which makes it challenging to locate another person if you don’t have their mobile number. With beacon enabled apps students will use their phones to locate other students with the same academic program, similar interests, or to form study groups – all by using their phone. Alumni can use the beacon enabled app to locate people they graduated with or as a tool to meet other grads in a similar line of work to meet up and talk business. In fact, the app could provide ample information about the people and their backgrounds so they could learn about the person before they meet them in person.

General Information

Beacon networks are still young but they are undeniably useful and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with them.

Digital strategist and marketer prone to fits of curiosity. Solver of digital puzzles. Architect of digital solutions.

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