Beacon technology has been around over 40 years but until recently, the application has been limited to very specialized uses, e.g. toll collection or security. Thanks to leaps in mobile technology, Higher Education is already seeing the next generation of beacons on campuses across the country. Are you ready?So What Is a Beacon?
Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop — that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet.A Recent History Lesson on Beacons
A little over a decade ago, the first wave of euphoria for beacon technology was being hailed by companies like Walmart as a way to save billions in lost inventory.
Fast forward to 2010 when the first Beacon-enabled smartphones and tablets hit the market via Apple. Still the widespread adoption and usage of beacon technology was, and remains, not quite there…but it’s coming. Today, as the adoption rate for smartphone-enabled payments and wayfinding continues to rise, other beacon-enabled applications will quickly follow suit.Application in Higher Education
There are multiple, useful applications for beacon technology in Higher Ed. In this post, we want to share some of the thinking that is being done to help our clients build engagement, and elevate the enrollment experience.#1 Campus Tours
Beacons will be used to help Universities and Colleges greet and guide prospective students and their parents as they explore campuses.
Beacon-enabled tours can be incorporated into the overall campus wayfinding system. They can be personalized with information tailored to a student’s particular interest, e.g. an engineering student can be guided to explore buildings dedicated to math and science. In addition, beacons can be used to prompt people with useful info such as proximity to food courts during meal times and specific events taking place.#2 Personalized Documentation
Beacon-enabled tours can accurately capture some of the landmarks and facilities visited by prospective students and their families. This info can be used to create customizable follow-up materials, highlighting the areas where prospective students visited.#3 Personalized and Social-enabled Admissions Events
Primacy has been working with clients to plan out an ideal admission experience where prospective students see personalized welcome messages on interactive video monitors which enable customized experiences. Social media integration permits multiple levels of interactivity between prospective students, current students, counselors, family, and friends who may or may not be present at the same time. This level of personalization will help institutions deliver a more impactful and memorable on-campus experience.#4 Communication Material Efficiencies
At college fairs, students visiting booths can digitally download admissions materials vs. carrying volumes of brochures. Later, if they or their parents want a tangible brochure, they can request specific materials they’d like sent to them via regular mail (creating efficiencies and providing an additional touch point with the prospective student).#5 Connecting Future Classmates-A Warm Introduction
When prospective students are on campus, they can meet current student volunteers impromptu via beacons. Prospective students would pass a beacon and receive a picture (headshot) of student volunteer(s) in their immediate proximity. Volunteers would let the system know they are “on-call” (think Uber without the car) and these ambassadors would be rewarded each time they greet a new student.Ready or Not, Beacon Technology Is At Hand
Beacon technology will no doubt see richer and more innovative applications as its adoption grows at exponential rates. Higher Education institutions are in a unique position to take advantage of this technology with an audience of GenZ consumers who are on the forefront in adopting applications that make use of beacon technology. How can beacons make your campus smarter?