The term “microlocation” is popping up more and more frequently in the event planning world. To newcomers, that can be a little confusing. So join us for a quick FAQ on microlocations, what they mean, and how your event can use them if appropriate.

So, What is a Microlocation?

Think about how our GPS and location-based services are so good at mapping out locations in a digital landscape – like Google Maps or your other navigator of choice. Now think about this technology applied in a more detailed way, but inside buildings. That’s the heart of microlocations – the ability to digitally set aside different parts of a venue into mini locations, each with unique purposes. In some ways this is like an amusement park or an old arcade center, but instead of different areas having different physical purposes, they have different data or marketing purposes. Each separate area is a “microlocation.”

What’s the Purpose of Something Like That?

You could read a whole book about the different ways that microlocations can be used. But for the average business event, it’s mostly about attendee marketing and engagement. For example, say an attendee wanders over to a sponsor booth, which is its own microlocation. Immediately, the attendee gets an alert on the event app introducing the sponsor, what they represent, and how to navigate to their web page. The attendee moves on to a waiting lobby, which is another microlocation, and eventually receives another alert about an upcoming presentation near that lobby.

There’s also an important data analysis feature to all of this direction and coordination. The event can track that attendee’s progress through the event, and note where people tend to go or congregate, and what areas get the most foot traffic, etc.

What Kind of Technology Do They Use?

Many different wireless technologies are competing for microlocations right now. iBeacons using Bluetooth Low Energy are one of the largest contenders at the moment. However, GPS and NFC can also be used for various microlocation options, and other companies offer their own Bluetooth Low Energy solutions. It’s an interesting market at the moment, and one that continues to evolve.

Is This Going to Be a Big Item On the Budget?

Unfortunately, the answer is often “it depends.” But as a general rule of thumb, expect to invest at least a few hundred dollars in the project. You can get iBeacon devices for only $15 to $20 per unit, but you may also have to register for services and pay for content, not to mention the work hours that go into setting up microlocations. The best-case scenario is a venue that actively supports a microlocation strategy and can work with you.

Are Attendees Expecting Microlocations?

That’s a good question! So far, microlocations aren’t that ubiquitous – but they are certainly becoming more common, and the trend is expected to continue to grow over time. However, that doesn’t mean they always increase value and ROI. Attendees may find microlocations annoying, especially if they keep interrupting the natural flow of the event. Microlocation strategies take a subtle hand to ensure they help more than they hurt.

If you want to know more about microlocations and what they can offer attendees in your industry, contact us at McVeigh Global Meetings and Events: We’ll happily help you come up with more ideas!