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Better, Easier Navigation

To find your way around in unfamiliar cities is no longer any problem owing to navigation devices. Things look different at expos: visitors have been needing at least a layout plan to find their way around. Digital assistants make it easier – and produce lots of interesting data as well.

2.5 million square meters of exhibition space! Now that's an area not easy to navigate without losing your way and your sense of orientation, and that was precisely the challenge facing attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show CES 2018 in Las Vegas early this January: spread out over altogether eleven event venues, the expo presented its 24 product categories with more than 20 marketplaces. Three geographic zones gave the event a rough orientational structure, but that was certainly not enough to find exactly the site and exhibitor event visitors had on their to-do list. In order to facilitate orientation for the more than 180,000 visitors, the organizers integrated a feature in the expo app encompassing a navigation function including search option in the CES exhibitor and events directory. The dynamic map technology shows app users the direct way to the nearest desired destination. Technical implementation of the navigation function was in the hands of Heidelberg Mobil International based on Deep Map Technology and embedded in the event app provided by Eventbase. The routing function allowed users to calculate and visualize the optimal route also over several different levels.

To enable unhindered navigation both inside and outside the buildings, the more than 3,500 stands and session rooms on different levels and extensive sections of the Las Vegas Strip including 31 of the most popular hotels were depicted on the map. Heidelberg Mobil CEO Matthias Jöst explained: "This year, we included the Las Vegas Monorail stations and the important shuttle and transport routes such as C Space Shuttle and Tech Express in the map for users to enjoy seamless indoor and outdoor routing".

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Indoor navigation via app helps users find their way, a real asset at spread-out events such as the CES.

And that service went down well with attendees: around 500,000 map views were registered in the course of the four-day event. Thanks to offline capabilities, the map also functioned as overview layout plan during a power outage. This indoor navigation at the CES accurate to between five and ten meters was technically implemented via Bluetooth beacons installed by an external provider. Even more precise navigation accurate to less than a meter is possible with WLAN-based Wayfinding programs.

In addition to providing for comfortable navigation, the data acquired with such an application generates even more added value to the organizers' benefit, as these can establish context-related motion patterns based on the tracked positions and routes taken by the attendees. Aggregated for multiple visitors, these heatmaps deliver information on high-frequency areas at a single glance. This form of geo-analysis provides for a reliable empirical basis for future planning: must walkways be wider at specific locations, should particularly attractive exhibitors be segregated from each other, will more catering stations or rest areas be needed? The acquired data provides a substantial decision-making aid for these and other issues.

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Owing to interacting indoor and outdoor routing, consistent orientation wasn't any problem.

But not only the layout of entire shows in general often needs improvement, exhibitors are also keen on designing their stands to achieve maximum impact on the designated target-group. In particular larger expo stands need to be structured in a manner meeting and fulfilling all visitor interests and requirements. Will the exhibits attract visitors? Is there enough sitting accommodation? How much time will visitors spend at the stand? Will they return after a first visit? It's extremely helpful and enlightening for exhibiting businesses to get empirically substantiated answers to these and other questions. In technical terms, this can be achieved with sensor-based data acquisition by appliances with an open WLAN port. Small automated sensors like those supplied by WWM can accomplish this in compliance with data-protection requirements. The measuring devices supplied by the company based in Monschau are capable of distinguishing between visitors in walkways and those at the stand. Depending upon stand size, the measuring radius can be set between 2.5 and ten meters. All persons staying within this defined range for more than two minutes are registered as interested visitors with the duration of their visit being logged. Moreover, the share of recurring visitors is registered, and the sensors may also be set to cover the passages in a radius of 50 and 100 meters, depending on local conditions. All persons within this radius are potential visitors and may be contacted and invited to drop by the stand with retargeting measures transmitted through diverse online channels in compliance with data-protection regulations.

However, what sounds so appealing also has a flaw: currently only 48 percent of all expo visitors have a WLAN port opened, thus making them measurable. Increasing improvement of WLAN availability to visitors on the expo grounds will most probably boost that share, but currently not even half of all visitors are considered in these measurements. Nevertheless, this is probably one of the technically most promising approaches as it is cheaper to implement than Bluetooth beacons.

The "Events Analytics" module put to market by the start-up Store-2-be is based upon a very similar operation mode. The Berlin-based company also uses regular probe requests transmitted by smartphones with activated WiFi to gain information on range, quantity of contacts and interactions as well as visitor dwelling periods in the vicinity. The system was in use for Nestlé brands at the Internorga 2017 in Hamburg. At the five-day expo for the away-from-home-market, the multinational corporation was represented with the brands Schöller, Mövenpick, Maggi, Nescafè, Nespresso and Nestlé Waters. To allow for detailed analyses, nine sensors were installed in the brand environment, which provided the input to compare the performance of the individual brand areas. Analyses of the visitor volumes at all days and times were also conducted, also with the intent to further improve stand personnel assignment schedules based on attendee turnout. These measurements showed that more than three quarters of the approximately 96,000 trade visitors reported by the organizer visited the Nestlé-World. Jutta Sperl, Dept. Trade Fairs and Events, Nestlé Deutschland, was confident the investment had paid off: "Some of the results came as a surprise to us and gave us valuable insight into the stream of visitors and their frequencies as well. It is especially interesting for us to compare the results with various upcoming events over a longer period of time." These operating figures facilitate future planning and make Live Marketing measurable. GWEN KAUFMANN