Many trade show organizers are incorporating Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth® beacons into their events. These are technologies you, an exhibitor should become familiar with and understand how each is used so you can take advantage of the marketing opportunities they provide.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID is a passive technology as far as the attendee is concerned. RFID tags are embedded in the attendee’s badge. That tag sends a signal to a reader or antenna placed strategically throughout the exhibit hall. The show organizer can now track the movement of attendees throughout the show floor. Exhibitors can place antennas in their booth at different product stations to track attendee interest by the duration of time spent at each station. They can also use a reader to collect leads via the attendee’s information provided on that RFID tag.
Pros: There is no more guesswork when it comes to attendee traffic. You can see exactly how many people moved through the exhibit hall and where they spent their time. The amount of traffic in your aisle is no longer a number based on opinion, but actual minute-by-minute fact.
Exhibitors using this technology in their booth can break down interest in product stations based on attendee demographics such as job title, industry, and geography. That can help with targeting your marketing and determining which products are the most popular with attendees.
Cons: The cost for the antenna or reader is still relatively high with prices between a couple hundred dollars and a couple thousand dollars depending on strength and system compatibility. The readers and antennas are noticeable and may interfere with your booth design. They also require electricity to operate.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC is an active technology. An attendee badge is created to act as an NFC device. Exhibitors can embed NFC “tags” into digital signage. The attendee would then touch their badge to that display to activate a download of a brochure or white paper or to register to win a prize.
Pros: The cost of the NFC tags is low, as little as ten cents each. It also eliminates the need to ship paper to the show. Unlike handing out jump drives filled with information, the attendee only gets the information that is relevant to them. Because it requires no investment of readers or antennas, it is a more cost effective option for show organizers.
Cons: The show organizer or exhibitor will have to educate the attendee on how the technology works. The show must communicate the value, or it simply will not be used.
Bluetooth beacons are transmitters that broadcast signals, which can be heard by compatible or smart devices. Exhibitors could use beacons to send relevant information to an attendee’s smartphone as they pass by the booth. When the technology is tied in with the registration data, exhibitors will know exactly which attendees stopped by their booth and what their behavior was while they were there.
Pros: The cost of this technology is very low, as little at $5 per beacon. Beacons also run on batteries (that last for months), and they are about the size of a quarter, so you can stick them anywhere in your booth. You can adjust the transmission range from 1 to 100 or so feet for more accurate readings.
Cons: The attendee has to download and log into the app, and turn on Bluetooth so that you can access their demographic information and push information to their smartphone. You are dependent on the show organizer doing a good job communicating that to the attendees.
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