Canada’s CN Tower Launches Proximity Marketing To Engage Tourists And Drive Ticket Sales

Canada’s CN Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere, tapped Aruba Networks to personalize the on-site experience for its 1.6 million annual visitors.

Toronto’s 1,815-foot tall CN Tower is getting a major wireless upgrade designed to connect its  restaurants, shops, and observation deck to the 1.6 million people who visit the tourist attraction every year.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Aruba has built the 40-year-old CN Tower’s wireless platform from scratch. The Aruba’s Mobile Engagement solution will provide high speed wifi to guests throughout the Tower as well as offer deeper connections to shops and wayfinding via the structure’s new mobile app.

“To be a top tourist destination today, organizations must be able to meet the wireless connectivity expectations of their guests,” said Kevin McManus, Director, IT for CN Tower, which is owned and operated by Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation. “Our visitors want to be able to use their mobile devices to check email, keep in touch with their friends and family, and share photos and accounts of their on-site experiences via social media.”

Wireless Expansion Efforts

In addition to daily visitors, the CN Tower hosts 300-500 events each year, including private dinners, corporate meetings/events, product launches, and weddings.

For some of these events, wireless access that goes beyond the complimentary wifi in the Tower is required.

“Some of our parties need dedicated, higher bandwidth wireless connectivity for their events,” said McManus. “With Aruba’s ClearPass Policy Manager and AirWave network management, we are able to quickly and securely turn on that service and meet the unique bandwidth requirements for those groups.”

For Aruba, the work on the CN Tower represents the latest step in its international expansion. This summer, it completed a wireless connection revamp for Brazil’s RIOgaleão-Tom Jobim International Airport that was timed for the Summer Olympics.

“The CN Tower has a lot to offer visitors, and our new mobile app gives us a powerful way to engage with our guests throughout the experience and tell them all about those features,” said Lisa Tompkins, director of Sales, Marketing and Communications for the CN Tower. “We view the new wireless infrastructure as an extension of our website and mobile marketing efforts. It is an incredibly valuable tool for delivering added value to our guests and helping them get the most out of their visit with us. It is also encouraging our visitors to come back and see us again in the future.”

Next Steps

The Tower’s “CN Tower Experience” mobile app features the usual  “blue dot” indoor navigation capability helps visitors easily find locations of interest in the Tower, including three levels of observation, two high-end restaurants, a casual café, the KidZone play area, a 5,000 square-foot gift shop, and the EdgeWalk attraction, which it bills as “the world’s highest outdoor walk on a building.”

Just days after its debut, the app already has 4,000 downloads. While it delivers proximity notifications, marketing messages, and the ability to  to purchase tickets and make restaurant reservations for the Tower’s in-house services, executives are looking at next steps.

Those next steps are likely to include outside marketers who want to reach CN Tower’s visitors.

“No external advertising was scoped into the system as part of this initial rollout,” McManus told GeoMarketing. “However, we do hope to look into monetization opportunities as part of a later phase.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.