There’s something about RFID — radio-frequency identification — that has come to feel a little Big Brother-ish to many planners and attendees. This technology, best known for tracking attendees via a signal on their name tags as they make their way between event sessions and around a trade-show floor, tells planners and stakeholders precisely who attended each session, the duration they stayed and when they left the area entirely (even when they weren’t supposed to!).
This often-difficult-to-obtain information can be critically important to planners who want to know traffic patterns so they can adjust and adapt for their next event, and it was the first widespread implementation of event RFID. These RFID technology options are widely available for events:
- Session duration
- Access control
- Real-time reporting on-site
- Post-event reports
- Exhibit-floor tracking
- Sponsorship opportunities
- Daily event metric summary
- Session attendance analysis
- Model attendee journey
Still, much has changed since RFID first made its appearance on the meeting scene in the early 2000s. Now, with voting and social applications, RFID can create a level of interactivity for attendees, companies, sponsors and even a wider audience not physically present at the event. This new elevated spin on event RFID puts the power of RFID squarely in the hands of the attendee, and makes them co-creators of the event, rather than the passive subjects of executive scrutiny.
Certain RFID companies, such as Mediamatic Lab, have RFID applications that tie in with Facebook’s location-sharing feature, but on an attendee permission basis, where the RFID technology is placed on a card that attendees can “Like” particular sessions or exhibitors by scanning the card at receiving terminals. Attendees can use these same cards to have photos taken of themselves, then posted on a user-specified network, creating an instant networking community.
Knowing the possibilities with RFID chips at an event is only half the battle, however. Working them into your event budget is another. Active RFID chips (those that facilitate interactivity) are noticeably more expensive than passive chips (those that provide attendee location information). The difference can be from a few cents to more than $25 per tag. (For more details on RFID pricing, visit the RFID Journal here.)
The question with RFID, as with every piece of event technology, is ultimately: What value will my event realize from the investment we are making? The answer rests with the value for each attendee’s improved experience.
Next month: The cloud-based presentation software known as Prezi