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Case Studies

Farnborough Airshow

08 May 2019 | Written by Mark Maydon

Supercharging the high-flying Farnborough International Airshow

The Farnborough International Air Show is a unique event which takes place every two years. On the one hand it is the largest trade show in the global aerospace calendar. On the other it is also a fun-packed weekend open to the general public. In 2018 the Air Show commissioned a new mobile app to better service both audiences, integrating Crowd Connected’s location tracking technology.

Meeting the Business Need

Enhancing the attendee experience is frequently a focus for event organisers. For the FIA team, the sheer scale of their show – with over 150,000 visitors, many of whom are international, and a complex layout spread across a 100,000m 2 site – results in a series of challenges.

Evidence from previous shows indicated that:

  • Getting to and from the show could be problematic, particularly the last few miles, and
  • Visitors weren’t exploring all the varied aspects of the show as much as they might, simply because the exhibition space and airfield are huge.

There was the potential for this to be compounded as Farnborough had invested in a state-of-the art new multi-functional exhibition facility which meant significant changes to the site layout. It was also recognised that visitors came in many different types – because the show is both a trade and public event. So visitor experiences vary widely, depending on each visitor’s individual profile and needs. Communicating effectively with visitors – to guide their on-site experience – was therefore important.

Driving footfall to certain locations was also a priority. Aiding discovery, promoting elements of the show that might otherwise get missed, was seen as crucial. Using advanced real-time messaging techniques to do this might make sense. Additionally, measuring footfall was also a requirement. The crowd’s movement around the entire site, and interaction with different elements of the event, needed to be reliably evaluated.

Which parts of the show outperformed expectations? Which fared less well?

Having robust metrics would provide organisers with critical data on which to base decisions. Both day-to-day during the course of the week-long 2018 Air Show, and for planning future iterations of the event.

The Solution

FIA commissioned a new mobile app from Kyan. Crowd Connected’s Colocator code was embedded into both iOS and Android versions of the app.

This simple plug-in to the official FIA app enabled the organisers to reliably track visitors and guide each individual’s experience – crucially without requiring the deployment of any additional hardware such as beacons.

The FIA management team were provided with access to the Colocator web console. This gave the team real-time monitoring of the movement of visitors via configurable heatmaps and customisable dashboards.

By marking up the site plan into multiple regions, footfall metrics for any area could be displayed (as well as being stored for future analysis).

Along monitoring and measurement, the Colocator console also provided a fully- fledged mobile customer engagement module. The FIA team used this to send precisely targeted push notification messages to visitors.

Colocator provided Farnborough Air Show with enhanced situational awareness, complementing established methods such as CCTV.

Critically this monitoring was not confined to the footprint of the Air Show itself. It extended to journeys to/from the event site, providing valuable insight, for example, into local road and rail transport conditions.

Footfall metrics such as visits, occupancies, dwell times and crowd densities were provided for any region drawn up on an intuitive mapping interface. Regions of differing shapes and sizes were drawn for a wide variety of on-site facilities – such as gates, carparks, exhibition halls, retailing and other points of interest. Off-site the focus was on differing modes of transport – for example monitoring arrivals at the railway station and key road routes into and out of the venue.

The show’s organisers used Colocator to elevate their real-time visitor communications. The software made it easy to build location-based audience segments, to compose message content and to schedule broadcast windows for those rules.

This formed a critical element of FIA’s visitor communications strategy, delivering the right content at the right time, and avoiding irrelevant (and therefore possibly irritating) messages.

Examples of these tightly targeted push messages included:

  • Customised arrival messages, for example differing message variants for returning visitors (versus first-time visitors) or messages recommending shuttle buses from the station to the gates, sent only to those who arrived by train.
  • Recommendations of areas to visit based on where the recipient had (and importantly hadn’t) been so far. This drove footfall to specific zones.
  • Timey information on certain facilities as the visitor went around the show.
  • Appropriate advice re transport: for example, notifications of local road holdups sent only to those heading back to their cars in a certain car park.

As a result the new app provided recommendations at just the right moment to guide the visitor’s journey for the best possible show experience.

We knew that by adding Crowd Connected’s technology we’d be gaining a better insight into our customers and in turn improving their experience. Colocator not only turned the app into a great data collection tool – delivering fantastic real-time insight – but it also enabled us to deliver better communications to our visitors. I’d fully recommend this technology to anyone hosting a large scale event.

Andrew Pearcey – Group Marketing Director, Farnborough International Ltd

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