Fira de Barcelona wins an award for improving visitors’ experience through mobile technology

Fira de Barcelona’s commitment to innovation has been recognised by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), the association of trade show organisers, which has given the Barcelona trade fair institution the Award for Best Project for Innovation in Operations and Services, the mPowered Experience. It is a pioneer programme creating new services to improve visitors’ experiences through mobile technology, such as virtual accreditation, geo-localisation apps, real-time information on venue access and available transport with waiting times that even allow interaction with other visitors and the purchase of meals in advance from different catering outlets in Fira’s exhibition centres in order to avoid queues.

The mPowered Experience project, launched in 2012, has the aim of making the visit to shows and congresses held in Fira de Barcelona a comfortable and effective experience, concentrating the most innovative trade fair services in mobile devices. It focuses on three main objectives: B-Informed (real-time information about the event), B Fast (time-saving, allowing visitors faster use of venue services) and B-Connected (maximising networking opportunities).

The first smart applications were developed together with the GSMA ¿organiser of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) – and were implemented successfully during the last edition of the congress, one of the world’s most technologically advanced events and highly rated by visitors. The 2014 edition of MWC featured new functionality, such as an interactive 3D map with step-by-step positioning and navigation that provides real-time information about available transport modes (Metro/Trains, Taxis and Shuttles) with waiting times and geo-localised routes.

Another function that was launched allows visitors to find out about catering options at an event or in the surrounding area, giving waiting times for each restaurant to make the choice easier, and purchase food in advance from the different catering outlets in the exhibition centre and save time by avoiding queues. It also allows direct mobile-to-mobile exchange and management of professional contacts, very useful for conducting business and establishing relations during the congress.

Attendees were also able to leverage the “NFC Badge” system, launched at MWC in 2013, which allows entry into the Gran Via Exhibition Centre by holding a mobile equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology close to access control points. This innovative technique, used for the first time en masse in an exhibition centre, allowed visitors to access the event more easily. During MWC, nearly 51,000 transactions were made with the NFC badge across Gran Via venue and Fira de Barcelona is already developing this advanced information system for use at other large events.

This project was recognised by the Global Association (UFI) and received the Award for Best Project for Innovation in Operations and Services, entitled “How to create an excellent attendee experience onsite”, beating other international projects presented by the US companies Feman and UBM in the final stage.

Barcelona, May 2014