I have a challenge for event organizers: Let’s get more creative with technology we use at face-to-face events. Find fun, unique ways to employ technology like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Near Field Communication (NFC) and mobile apps to magnify opportunities for attendee engagement and networking.
People come to events not just to attend sessions and learn, but also to network. Employing technology at events opens opportunities for increased attendee engagement and interactions, furthering their goals and the goals you’ve set for your event. You’ll create more opportunities to interact with the audience and receive their feedback. And most importantly, you’ll gain actionable information to move forward with achieving the event’s desired outcomes.
Let’s focus on RFID, a venerable technology that keeps finding new applications for face-to-face events. RFID has long been used to facilitate registration and room or session access at meetings. More creatively, planners have also used RFID extensively to track attendees’ whereabouts during events. Typical applications include speeding up registration lines, measuring session attendance, and highlighting traffic patterns in exhibit areas.
Aggregate data from RFID readers in an exhibit hall, for example, can reveal how often attendees visit the show floor, how long they stay, where they congregate and how many make repeat visits.
In addition to session attendance, RFID can also identify which attendees stayed to the end of the session. This is an invaluable piece of information in training environments where credits are awarded for session completion.
Increasingly, event organizers are taking RFID “the extra mile,” deeper into the realm of attendee engagement. As event organizers, we can take a few cues from the creativity we’re seeing in entertainment and sports venues. Let me give you an example.
Last year, I had the opportunity to take a pre-opening tour of Atlanta’s new College Football Hall of Fame. The venue vividly demonstrates how imaginative uses of RFID can engage attendees personally. Thanks to my RFID-enabled lanyard, the venue “knew” me—and my favorite college football team. Wherever I went, that piece of personal information triggered fun experiences, like a digital face painting with my team’s colors.
What are some creative ways you can integrate RFID technology into event venues to customize and enhance the attendee’s experience? I looked for ideas we can borrow from sports and entertainment venues. Here are three to consider:
- Create games. At the Ryder Cup golf tournament this fall in Scotland, fans with RFID wristbands earned prizes by walking the course and checking in at various RFID stations. At big events, RFID tracking of attendees could be a nifty complement to gamification, which event planners are increasingly using to encourage interaction.
- Surprise attendees with smart signage. At many racing events, RFID is employed to track runners’ start and finish times. Some races have found a new twist for the technology: inspiring runners! At sensor-enabled checkpoints throughout the course, runners’ RFID tags can trigger the display of supportive messages from friends and family members on LED screens. Why not brainstorm some ways to use engagement signage at your venue?
- Turn attendees into brand ambassadors. If you have a fun activity at your event, RFID can help you trumpet attendees’ delight—and your brand—on social media. Create kiosks or graphics that encourage engagement and simultaneously promote your event.
At the Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis, organizers used Stark RFID’s technology to keep track of 50,000 partiers. By swiping their wristbands at engagement stations (see photo), event patrons could share their event experiences in real time.