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Mar 14, 2018

Industry insights,

Geo-fencing: game changing targeted communication

Chris our Telecoms Consultant has many passions that include the art of language, creative writing and dance. Although inspiring, these pale into insignificance when compared to one of his greatest passions, the love he has for innovation and how this plays out in our connected world.

Connectivity is something that we increasingly take for granted. The questions of previous years were ‘do you have Wi-Fi?’ the questions now are ‘how can I access your Wi-Fi?’ and ‘what is your Wi-Fi access key?’ So in accepting that people, namely our customers’ expectations for connectivity have increased, it creates a demand for these services that will need to be supported or business reputation will be lost.

Take for example, the trusted camping and caravan holiday. For many years it has just been accepted that if you venture out further than your front door, you were unlikely to get any form of tenable connectivity, be that from your network provider or via Wi-Fi. And if you were camping on the fringes of the coast, well you may as well pop that phone back in your bag and forget about it for the duration of your stay, as you’d have entered into the void of ‘E’…where nothing can connect and your device is reduced to an expensive piece of glass and plastic. Whilst on holiday this might sound like bliss to many people, the more we rely on being connected the higher the demand, and people really do want to remain connected, even if it’s to check out local attractions or to know what the weather is like. Connectivity is high on people’s agenda and over 50% of tourists will chose to go elsewhere if the Wi-Fi isn’t up to scratch. In addition to this, sites like TripAdvisor provide travellers with factually accurate reviews that are trusted by their audiences. All it takes is one or two negative comments about a poor Wi-Fi connection and the venues hard earned reputation is lost. Many businesses within the hospitality sector might perceive the cost of setting up and maintaining their Wi-Fi offering prohibitive, however as the demand for connectivity rises, people are far more inclined to accept a nominal fee to be able to access the guest premium Wi-Fi, which in many cases can actually acting as an additional revenue stream.

What’s great about offering a premium service, is that it also provides the business the ideal platform for data capture. The business could ask the traveller a few targeted questions, such as who is in their party, the reason for their trip and how long are they intending to stay. How this information is then used is where the clever bit comes in. Yes it could be used for ongoing communications, to be included into a loyalty program to encourage repeat visits, or to provide offers throughout their stay. However, consider for a moment, how valuable information of this nature could be for the hotelier, if they intended to use the data to personalise the travellers stay with them. Many hotels nowadays have welcome messages on the TV waiting for their guests, so imagine how these could look if they provided all kinds of relevant and personalised information for each different type of traveller; families, business travellers and couples. Although the intention to offer this facility is there, the technology to support it is a few years away yet, but in five years it’s likely we will all have experiences that are tailored to our interests and personas.  

So how can businesses benefit from connectivity?

Well other than the obvious benefit of being able to offer their customers improved connectivity and therefore by definition an improved CX, there are additional benefits that are even now in their infancy. If you consider a large shopping centre, multiple floors, many shops and more! By including a short data capture exercise before allowing consumers to access the free Wi-Fi, the shopping centre can capture relevant information to enable tailored and personalised in-store experiences. By utilising multiple Wi-Fi access points, using geo-fencing and sophisticated software; they are able to create location and presence services. In this scenario the shopping centre would have the ability to serve advertising for the stores and/or products that you were looking at, in real-time. Either via mobile ads, or digital display. Yes, it’s going to feel invasive and intrusive, but on the flip-side you’ll have just saved money on something you were going to purchase anyway, so you won’t care, in fact you’ll start to embrace the targeted real-time nature of this new wave of technology. In case you haven’t guessed, we are yet again a few years away from seeing this personalised touch points as common place within our shopping centres, but it’s the way the technology is heading and certainly geo-fencing techniques are widely used to profile consumer groups and to gather more insights on the footfall persona shopping centres attract.

As with all technology of this nature, security is going to be a considering factor. Free guest Wi-Fi is notoriously easy to gain access to, as the information being asked of the user is not verified, and with the right kit a hacker could infiltrate the Wi-Fi for malicious intent, spying on the online activities of individuals, or worse stealing their information.  Therefore, businesses that want to utilise geo-fencing techniques for targeted communication are going to have to invest heavily in online security, or risk leaving their customers exposed to unnecessary levels of risk.