RFID and BLE – what are all these acronyms about you ask? You might
have heard of them before but actually understanding what they mean and
more importantly how they can be used to shake up your event is an
entirely different matter.
I have been working in events for the
last 10 years and now more than ever I am so excited to be in this
industry because we have the hottest technology at our finger tips.
Forget QR codes and barcode scanners, we are way beyond that now. We
should welcome NFC, RFID and BLE with open arms as these technologies
will change the events industry for good and enrich the overall event
experience for visitors, exhibitors and event organisers.
So let’s take a practical look at what these acronyms mean and how we can use these contactless technologies at events.
stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID readers can scan large
areas searching for RFID tags on name badges. Visitor data stored on the
tag is then transmitted to the cloud in real-time without needing a
person to be involved.
The technology has been around for decades
and is typically used for supply chain management, asset management,
and inventory control. And you may know that RFID is used at athletic
events like the London Marathon to accurately time athletes during a
So imagine you have hundreds or thousands of people
attending your event, many exhibitors and multiple seminars happening at
the same time. With RFID you can track the exact entry and exit times
of your visitors, understand the flow of traffic around an exhibition
space and know which seminars they have attended. You don’t need event
staff scanning badges, this all happens automatically and seamlessly as
visitors come into range with an RFID reader and you can access the data
With RFID there is a huge opportunity to
understand visitor behaviour and use the information intelligently for
post-event marketing and planning for future events.
stands for Near Field Communication fulfils a similar function to RFID
except you use your NFC enabled smartphone or an NFC card to initiate a
wide variety of interactions that require no more than a simple touch
against an NFC reader. The Oyster card and contactless debit cards are
well-known examples of NFC.
Even though NFC has been around for a
while, only a few companies have unlocked the true value of the
technology. But more and more are recognising the huge potential of NFC
which is primarily about bringing customers closer to businesses and
There are many creative uses for NFC at events e.g.
mobile ticketing, event entry management, visitor interactions with
exhibitors, check-ins, on-site feedback, social interactions and mobile
payments, coupons and loyalty.
Your entire event can be
personalised with NFC by providing visitors with an NFC tag (which may
be a name badge). Because the NFC tag is paired to a specific
individual, each time they interact with an NFC reader the experience is
personalised and the audience will feel more engaged. The great news is
that NFC tags and readers are quite affordable. And as soon as the vast
majority of people own an NFC enabled smartphone there will be even
more opportunities for NFC.
NFC and RFID technologies are a
perfect match for creating frictionless, professional connections and
enriching the visitors’ overall event experience through increasing
levels of interaction and engagement.
stands for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and is a type of technology that
enhances location-based awareness and services. This can involve BLE
compatible mobile phones which when in range of a beacon can receive
The devices on the market that are currently BLE enabled
are iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S. Later this year Android is
releasing their 4.3 update and 4.4 (Kit Kat) update which means that
every smartphone running Android will also be BLE enabled.
combining the use of mobile apps and location-based services, B2B and
B2C marketers are able to reach out to their customers in the right
place and at the right time with targeted content to help increase
engagement and drive conversions.
So what does this mean for events?
placing small transmitters, also known as beacons, around an exhibition
space, or in a specific seminar room, personalised content can be
pushed to a visitor’s mobile device as they walk past various beacons.
still at the very beginning when it comes to using Bluetooth Low Energy
as an events marketing tool and we are really eager to engage with the
bold and the brave in the events world to start capitalising on this
exciting technology. The opportunities are limitlessâ€¦
So, are you the one to shake up and wake up events?
are living and working in exciting times and we have the opportunity to
do things differently within any kind of event. These technologies are
flexible, affordable and allow you to be even more creative. But most
importantly it’s about enriching the experiences of visitors and
exhibitors so that they keep coming back. And the great news for the
event organiser is that you can unlock much richer information and
insight to measure event success.
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