All event technology is wearable if you try hard enough.
Glue your digital stopwatch to a wristband and spray paint it gold, and you’ve got a smartwatch.
Knit a sweater in a QR code pattern, and you’re mobile access to information.
Tape a phone to the edge of a sun visor and let it dangle in front of your face during a presentation.
Boom. Google Glass.
If you’d rather leave the imagination up to the tech wizards, there are still ways to incorporate powerful and innovative tools into your next event.
RFID – which stands for radio frequency identification, technology for the wireless transfer of data – can be used to turn typically mundane event accoutrements like nametags, badges, and wristbands into gadgets of the future. RFID is also the daddy of NFC (near field communication, although I’ve also just learned this can stand for National Football Conference as well), where information is exchanged by short distances –think tapping a card on a sensor, instead of having to swipe it.
With 14% of event agencies citing RFID in the top technologies they see clients using last year (according to the EventTrack 2014 survey), beating out apps and tablets, it is claiming its place in the event management industry.
RFID technology opens up a world of possibility for your attendees, which in turn makes for awesome events.
Here’s what they use RFID and NFC for:
1. To enter
Long lines? Complicated forms? Spread sheets and check boxes to know who’s here? Nope. Get your guests set up with a badge with RFID technology, and they can touch it to a scanner to let you know they’ve arrived.
2. To pay
Attendees can link their RFID piece to their debit or credit card, making for one-touch purchasing of food, beverages, swag, or anything else you or presenters might be peddling. It saves you the trouble of pulling out your wallet, not to mention the worry of dropping your card in a crowded space, which is part of why a secure, cashless RFID system is becoming a big boon to the music festival scene.
3. To connect
Business cards are so last decade. Instead, imagine the tap of two badges and (poof!) your contact information has been digitally exchanged. Wristbands and the like can also be equipped to post updates, like Facebook check-ins and photo sharing, on social media.
4. To learn more
Rather than collecting an armful of pamphlets, RFID allows attendees to pinpoint what they want to learn more about. At a conference or event with lots of presenters, guests can tap their device onto a special station and save information to an online account for perusal later. One broadcasting convention displayed magazines with NFC hot spots underneath. Visitors tapped their badges to the publications they wanted to see a complete version of, and at the end of the day received an email with links to the ones they collected.
Why That’s Awesome:
1. Save time
No one likes waiting in lines. Attendees who get from one place to another quickly (especially to the places involving food) are going to be happier than those caught in the queue. Plus, you’re saving time not staffing a registration table, which can get unwieldy when you’re looking at simultaneous discussion sessions at a big conference.
2. Save paper and $$$
I was raised as a tree-hugger, but I know I’m not the only one who gets sad when I accrue a heap of printed information I know is only destined for the recycle bin. You’re not going to saddle your attendees with paper products, and you won’t be saddled with the cost of printing all those brochures or receipts.
Take stock of your usual printables and think, “Does my attendee really need this in hard copy?” If the answer is no, envision a way to incorporate into RFID uses for those who want to opt-in.
3. Be in the know
With location tracking of different types, you can tell what’s popular at your event, whether it’s a certain speaker or the tray of salmon puffs in the far corner of the dining room.
Not only is that more than you can probably see as you dart everywhere managing everything, it means you can make adjustments to improve your guests’ experiences, like adding chairs or moving the salmon puffs to a more central location to improve noshing flow. That means you (or someone on your team) should monitor activity and act quickly if changes are needed.
4. Get feedback
You’ll have an exact record of who went to what part of your event, which means you can target them for more specific feedback. Because the RFID information comes to you in real time, it also lets you send a survey immediately after a portion is done to those who were there while it’s still fresh in their minds.
5. Increased engagement
RFID is a way for guests to personalize the event, from the contacts they make to the pieces they take away. They become invested in making the process their own, making for a more meaningful experience they’ll hold onto. Design your event to give them plenty of opportunities to use the technology, like stations for more information or networking sessions.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with RFID technology for events. Tell us about them in the comments below!