Adding value with RFiD

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RFiD is actually big business in events and exhibitions. From large scale gigs like The UEFA Champions Festival, to interactive experiences which link into social media such as Cadbury House at The Olympics to exhibitor stands which are using RFiD to go digital, savvy event organisers and brands are using RFID to provide the ultimate short-cut for visitors. Last month in Exhibition News, D2i Systems suggested that RFiD technology was incompatible with the temporary nature of exhibitions. They cited high tag and reader costs, impracticalities of printing RFID badges, low range of readers, unreliability, impracticality of site-wide infrastructure and the challenge of interpreting data as reasons why RFiD would remain out of reach for exhibitions. But they focused on a single slice of RFiD potential; long range RFiD and movement tracking through an event, as if that were the whole RFiD story rather than a sideline of a much bigger opportunity. Exhibitions often get accused of being behind the times when it comes to technology and it’s certainly true that tight budgets can mean there is less room for innovation or experimentation. But this simply means that technology ideas or solutions which are all style and no substance rarely see the light of day, which means that instead of technology for technology’s sake, those which do make the grade have to really add value. Far from being “at the end of the fingertips for most organisers and events”, in reality, organisers, agencies and brands are already using RFiD extensively in exhibitions for a wide range of functions from access control to social media link-up and amplification to data capture and ROI measurement. Our clients, many of them leading pharmaceutical brands, are using our RFiD solution, BrandWallet to track interactions, measure event performance and allow delegates to add chosen information to their ‘digital rucksack’ which is then emailed to them. It also enables information presented onscreen to be personalised to their specific profile –  so presentations might play in their mother language, or only products relevant to their territory might be shown. The anonymous visitor who picked up a brochure and retreated is no longer anonymous - leaving behind a digital thumbprint, which can be followed up post event. With brandWallet, the sales team get instant access to each visitor’s profile, on their ipads, rather than just an anonymous barcode number, and because it links to their CRM, they can see where they’re at in the sales funnel and add live notes for seamless follow-up. The system records what each visitor looked at and for how long, and automatically creates a dashboard of data which is a powerful vehicle not just for assessing ROI but also for R&D teams to understand customer preferences.  The app is one step ahead of traditional data-collection methods like barcode scanning lightpens, in which you have to go and download the data rather than pull it up live, and it’s even able to link a customer to a specific salesperson, which means when that customer checks in on the stand the sales rep automatically gets a text message.  And it doesn’t matter that you can’t ‘print’ an RFID badge or tag, you just pair it with the standard badge. It isn’t expensive either – RfiD tags can be bought at less than 50 pence each. When designing brandWallet, we purposefully chose short range tags so that the system was unobtrusive, selective for the delegate and vastly more reliable as well as significantly cheaper. Readers are inexpensive – less than a tenner - and don’t need to be hired as exhibitors can ‘BYOD’ - use their own devices with a downloaded app.   Increasingly, we’re talking to organisers about rolling this technology out across an entire event - if an entire exhibitor community were to use an RFiD system for lead-retrieval, the data would transform from simply telling you that the gents loos are the real hot-spot of the event to a rich database of interactions which could be used to create impressive infographics of the business being conducted at the event. The organisers we’re working with, frustrated by the continued lack of organisation and systematic follow-up of leads are particularly interested in the data-visibility this solution would lend them and we’re looking at providing a zero-cost SaaS version so that every exhibitor can make use of this technology. Used for the right purpose and to deliver sufficient value, RFiD certainly isn’t out-of-reach.  In fact, it has the potential to really disrupt the lead retrieval market and that could be transformative for organisers battling against the tide of neglected leads to rebook exhibitors.   This article was first published in the April issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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