Is Geofencing the Future of Event Management?

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The pandemic put the entire live experiences industry into stasis for almost two years. Now that it's back, new tech like geofencing is reshaping the event landscape. But what does it mean for businesses?

In April 2020, the event management industry screeched to a halt. Venues worldwide emptied as people quarantined, and for two years, the market stagnated. Consumers grew restless. 

Once quarantine ended, event managers entered an arms race to update their event solutions with emerging technology. The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and other tools has improved the event experience for users and business owners alike. Geofencing in event management has the potential to revolutionize it. The global geofencing market already hit $1.95 billion in 2022. As more applications emerge, it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.7% from 2023 to 2030. 

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a location-based service (LBS) that allows marketers and event managers to set up digital boundaries around a specific area. When someone brings their smartphone through this area, positioning technologies such as Wi-Fi, Cell-ID, or GPS can track their location. This area can be as large or as limited as needed. 

Companies can then use the established area to automatically notify users of local promotions or sales, send them ads as they pass through, or gain real-time information about their behavior as they come and go. It’s reshaping tourism, event management, and the hospitality industry like never before.

Close-up of an iPhone screen connected to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The Promise of Geofencing in Event Management

While the technology is still new, geofencing in event management already shows potential. A study done by Asurion, a phone insurer,  found that Americans check their phones every 10 to 12 minutes, or about 80 times every day. 

Given how much time consumers spend on their phones, tracking mobile devices is an effective way to gather data as they go from one place to another. Event managers can gauge how many people have decided to attend a festival to enforce crowd limits or know how successful their event has been. They can also use the tech to deliver relevant notifications, such as when the event might be starting. It also provides extra security, making it possible to ensure they don’t stray into any restricted areas.

Geofencing can also optimize event advertising. While spending more money to cast a wide net can get more attention, not everyone who sees your ads will be interested in the event, or anywhere near it. With geofencing, you can narrow your focus to people in the range of your event. In doing so, you can target the people only in your area, saving money while giving you a higher return on ad spend (ROaS).

Practical Applications of Geofencing for Events

Geofencing has already emerged as a leading new technology for event management. Businesses and governments alike have already begun implementing the service into their mobile app development. Whether you’re planning to run a festival, attend a trade show, or manage a massive city-wide event, geofencing has a number of useful applications. 

Conferences and Trade Shows

Conferences and trade shows can bring more eyes than ever to a brand, and geofencing can help business owners tailor those ads more accurately.  By using geofencing software for mobile apps, the technology can advertise a user’s brand to everyone in a conference hall and direct them to their table. 

Marketers can also customize their geofencing to target people using specific apps or websites relevant to their business. Business owners can promote themselves even if they aren’t physically at an event, which can be vital if they need to advertise but have limited bandwidth.

Music Festivals and Large-scale Events

Music festivals and other, more crowded events can be chaotic for everyone. Location-based services provide a better attendee experience. Geofencing apps can guide attendees through dense crowds and show them where the stage is, where to buy merchandise and food, and how long they have until the show starts. 

Venues can use geofencing in their event management to keep attendees informed, send them exclusive content, or share when they’re near sponsorship booths. Geofencing is excellent for real-time crisis management, leveraging push notifications for cancellations and possible emergencies.

A pair of hands holding a phone in landscape mode. An event venue is visible on the screen.

Tourism and Destinations

For tourism destinations, geofencing offers the opportunity to both improve visitor experiences and gain valuable insights into out-of-town traffic. Before geofencing, it was difficult to impossible to understand tourist behavior on an individual level. The new technology unlocks new possibilities, both as a local ambassador and survey.

Geofencing was recently implemented for Bike Week, an event that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Daytona Beach, Florida. The city used the technology to set up perimeters around some of its most popular areas, such as Main Street, and discovered that over 400,000 people attended the event.

Jeff Brown, the Director of Economic and Strategic Opportunities, commented that geofencing has "been very successful,” providing more accurate visitor numbers. The city plans to use this information to optimize event planning processes and improve logistical arrangements. Having hundreds of thousands of motorcycles adding to traffic patterns calls for in-depth civic planning, and the city is now better prepared than ever.

Sporting Events

The pro sports industry has embraced geofencing with open arms. The San Diego Padres, for instance, utilized geofencing in event management several years ago to tackle the influx of Philadelphia transplants during the Padres-Phillies baseball game. 

They limited ticket sales to “verified” Padres fans and locals by tracing their mailing or IP addresses from surrounding San Diego areas and counties. Orders outside a certain area were canceled and refunded, pushing visitors to buy from secondary markets. Padres pitcher Blake Snell praised the move, claiming that “the energy was electric” and calling it “probably the best crowd I’ve ever pitched in front of.”

Challenges and Considerations

Considering modern privacy concerns, some users may have hesitations about geofencing. One of the biggest challenges in geofencing is privacy concerns. In a 2021 survey, 37% of respondents reported being “extremely concerned” about apps and websites tracking their data. The latest Apple iOS update, which offered a privacy feature that allows users to opt-in to app tracking, had a modest 25% opt-in rate that reflects this.

Fortunately, geofencing has adapted to some of these common privacy concerns. One way event managers can handle security concerns is by building out their own custom geofencing software. Working with a geofencing development partner enables businesses to control the usage and security of their users’ data. Custom geofencing development also enables event companies to provide more transparency for users—when you know how and what data is used and processed, and why, it’s possible to pass that peace of mind onto your customers. 

In addition to privacy, geofencing can sometimes run into challenges concerning connectivity. Geofencing requires constant connection, making it a less tenable solution for venues with poor reception. It can also present some issues around battery drain if the app continuously runs in the background. Building lightweight apps following best development practices can mitigate some of the battery drain issues. As geofencing technology advances, newer tools and conventions will continue to further alleviate these challenges.

Artificial Intelligence and Geofencing

Geofencing is not the only technology disrupting the status quo in event management. Artificial intelligence is offering new opportunities for personalized experiences than ever before—and it can provide incredibly memorable user experiences when paired with geofencing.

In one instance, a museum and education company leveraged a combination of these technologies to provide personalized information to museum visitors as they moved thorough the gallery. The service, ExhibitXplorer, combines geofencing, AI, and microservices to create an experience that adapts to museum visitors—whether they’re casual laymen or seasoned researchers. Through this, museums create a more immersive experience that stays with visitors longer. 55% of the test participants were satisfied with the experience, showcasing the potential for combining geofencing in event management with other growing technologies.

Similar technologies that combine the power of location-specific targeting and user-specific content will grow in popularity in the coming years. The synergy between geofencing and AI enables companies to provide visitors with tailored tour guides, personalized schedules, and memorable experiences that stay with them long after they return home.

Geofencing and the Future of Event Management

While geofencing might not be a necessity for event managers, the service is already distinguishing organizations that use it from those that don’t. Geofencing in event management makes monitoring attendees a breeze, and its data-collection practices can gather proprietary data faster than many other methods. 

As geofencing technology continues to improve and combine with other emerging technologies, geofencing-savvy event organizers will move ahead of the competition.

Geofencing can also be customized to suit your exact needs and tastes, especially if you choose to build it yourself for use in your mobile app development. These benefits and more will transform event management, making it vital to keep your finger on the pulse of geofencing news and to consider exploring the technology for yourself.

If you’re ready to explore the possibilities of geofencing, contact FullStack Labs. Our teams know the event industry and have the expertise to build personalized geofencing solutions that accelerate your marketing plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Geofencing is a location-based service (LBS) that creates virtual boundaries around specific areas using technologies like Wi-Fi, GPS, or Cell-ID. When a mobile device enters or exits these boundaries, it can trigger various actions such as notifications, ads, or data collection.

Geofencing in event management can enhance user experience by providing real-time updates, guiding attendees through the event, and ensuring they do not enter restricted areas. It also allows event managers to collect data on attendee movement and engagement, which can be used for improving future events.

Integrating geofencing in mobile app development for events allows for targeted advertising, improved attendee engagement, and streamlined event operations. It helps in sending location-specific notifications, directing attendees to specific areas, and collecting valuable data on attendee behavior.

In large-scale events, geofencing can help manage crowd control, provide location-based services like maps and schedules, and send real-time updates. For instance, it can guide attendees to stages, merchandise booths, and food stalls, and inform them about event timings or changes.

Privacy concerns with geofencing include the tracking of user locations and data collection without consent. These concerns can beaddressed by allowing users to opt-in to tracking features, ensuring data security, and being transparent about data usage. Custom geofencing solutions can also be developed to respect user privacy while still providing the benefits of location-based services.