For years, one of the hot “water cooler” discussions for event organizers has been about audits—showing exhibitors once and for all who, how many, and what type of visitors attend a show. Although attendance audits are extremely helpful, they don’t tell the entire story. Other rich analytics tools such as RFID (radio frequency identification) provide more specific data about who attends which sessions, amount of time spent on the exhibit floor, which booths they visit, and their behavior inside the booth.
Audits are great for the big picture. RFID yields more specific information about attendee behavior patterns—the kind of data that exhibitors need to quantify the value of their participation. Using RFID on the trade show floor requires an investment from the show organizer to provide badges with an embedded RFID tag. Antennas installed in booths at the exhibitors’ expense read the RFID tags and record the behavior of attendees when they enter. It is a partnership that more and more exhibitors are asking for from show managers.
Some major exhibitors are driving the movement to install RFID in trade shows as another way to measure the effectiveness of their exhibit marketing programs. Small to medium-sized companies are following suit. One way to make the argument to show organizers is to talk about the benefits to their organizations and their customers. Here are some talking points that can add to the discussion:
- Trade show organizers can benefit directly by facilitating the use of RFID technology on the show floor. Once all badges are tagged, antennas can track attendees anywhere that antennas are installed—at the show entrance, in meeting rooms, at special events.
- RFID technology provides significant value to exhibitors.
- Most of the expense will be born by exhibitors who choose to use RFID systems in their booths. The cost of the tags has dropped considerably in recent years. Tags can also be sponsored at no charge for qualifying events.
- Enabling RFID tracking differentiates one show from another. In tough economic times, some shows may need to enhance their value propositions in order to stay afloat or compete.
- Leading health care exhibitors such as Phillips, GE, and Toshiba are using RFID to drive more ROI at their events. Soon it will be a prerequisite for many anchor exhibitors.
- RFID data is more accurate than the information collected using bar codes, sign-in sheets, headcounts, and card swipes.
- RFID augments the data collected by lead retrieval technology providing exhibitors with analytics from multiple sources.
- Advances in the areas of RFID, lead retrieval, and mobile technology will continue to push the envelope on the trade show floor and the conference room. Organizers that implement these changes now will reap the benefits of innovation.
- RFID badges are considered to be more secure than any other badge types. Attendees also have the option to opt out of using the RFID tagged badge.
Exhibitor advisory committees are a good first step to starting a dialogue with show management. By necessity, trade show organizers may be more open to suggestions and feedback from exhibitors now than at any other time. Many are considering changes, upgrades, and new technology to do more for less, add value to existing shows, and address exhibitor needs.
Have you mentioned RFID to show management yet?