Knowing me, knowing you - registration

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Registration system providers have traditionally been tasked with two jobs. The first is front-of-house and pre-show registration, where visitors enter data and receive a ticket and/or name badge on the door. In recent years, innovation on this front has largely been about getting the punters in quickly and efficiently and has seen the arrival of self-service kiosks, more user-friendly online registration services and e-ticketing services. Their second task is exhibitor lead capturing on the show floor. Registration companies are responsible for giving exhibitors the tools to scan a visitor’s badge while onsite and access to that information afterwards. It is in this space that several companies are claiming to have made technological leaps. Business development consultant to Show Data Systems David Pearson said future innovation at the registration company has turned to the two-way and interactive flow of information between the exhibitor and visitor. The key to achieving this is pushing useful information back out to the visitor. “The reality is exhibitors are useless when it comes to following up leads,” Pearson said. “The biggest thing a registration company can do is get more information into the hands of visitors. This will ensure visitors are better informed about who to see, who to meet and who should be going.”Additionally, Show Data Systems is using the visitor’s demographics and registration details to deliver personalised benefits, Pearson said. “Previously, you get your badge scanned, then wait weeks for somebody to contact you,” he continued. “Or you end up with a bunch of brochures to show your boss you have been there. “We’re turning this around with a process that’s more like social media: An exchange of contact details that’s two-way and a lead recording system.” The technology can be used to give visitors a directory of who they have approached and spoken to using the LiveLead tool, Pearson said. Visitors are then given links to the show directory via a personalised subset. Organisers using this functionality today include Centaur Exhibitions.The latest step is to extend this integrated functionality to a visitor’s smartphone. “Our technology allows individuals on the stand to share contact details via mobile communications by allowing visitors to scan an exhibitor’s badge themselves,” Pearson said. “At the same time, it pushes the lead to the exhibitor so they get information on the visitor. “We’re building a portfolio of content for exhibitors and visitors and getting that information in the hands of both parties at a critical point of their relationship.” The first prototypes of the smartphone service were demonstrated earlier this year. Pearson said he was working on expanding its functionality out from badges to name boards and printed literature. In addition, LiveLead is being adapted to suit consumer shows, where visitors don’t have name badges but still want to exchange information with an exhibitor. “Sixty per cent of connections are now smartphones. If we can get 10-20 per cent engaging with their own devices, then it will succeed enormously well,” Pearson claimed. Once visitors are using the technology, Show Data can provide organisers with intelligence on the flow of visitors around their exhibition hall, highlighting hot spots and dead zones and visual profiles of the pace of business at a show.   “Organisers pigeon-hole registration companies as people putting badges on the customers. We want to help to understand the flow of data in the hall and improve the show by using the registration information,” Pearson added.Acquired lead technology SO Group is also broadening the capabilities of its lead capturing system and acquired software developer Lead Reporter earlier this year to integrate its technology into its registration offering. In July, the company’s SO Visit division launched two products: Visit Connect and Visit Connect Live.“We want to connect pre-registration information, where people have put in their info in a clean and tidy fashion, to the lead registration process,” recently installed SO Visit MD Jamie Vaughan said. Connect links to a show’s visitor registration data and gives exhibitors the ability to tag each contact with an action. This could include a reference to that visitor’s interest in a certain product, or the need for an exhibitor to contact an individual the next day.   There are two ways of using the Connect service. Exhibitors can capture data using a traditional barcode scanner, which is then uploaded to an online lead management tool. Alternatively, using the Connect Live service, exhibitors can access and take action on a visitor’s pre-registration data while talking to a visitor in real-time. The aim of Connect is to ensure exhibitors can record and disseminate the right types of information from their contact with visitors, Vaughan said. “Through the system, leads are efficiently tracked and managed,” he said. For example, exhibitors can follow up the allocation of leads and the time it takes to close them. “It’s about collecting intelligence around the process of lead collecting at exhibitions,” Vaughan added. “We make the exhibitor think about the exhibition experience and what is realistic.” Melville Exhibition and Event Services recently launched its Exhibitor Dashboard, bringing its pre-show exhibitor product and services offering together with post-show reporting in one portal.The contractor also recently partnered with apps provider EventGenie to deliver apps aimed at giving visitors and exhibitors a more interactive experience at a show via a smartphone. “We’ve made a lot of innovations with our lead manager tool and online manual, which sit within our portfolio of organisational products,” Melville commercial director Debbie Lee said.   “We want to make sure that the market being developed is robust, appropriate, scalable and easy to use, so we’re in the second phase of consultation with exhibitors and organisers about what they really need.” Lee agreed technology innovation was critical to registration and lead capture but said any new functionality needed to be part of an integrated platform. “There are a lot of disparate things going on at shows – we want to have these integrated and be simple to use,” she added. Other developments Quality Registration Services is another registration company looking to fine-tune its offering, albeit in a different fashion. In a bid to put more power into the visitor’s hands, MD David Harington said it has developed the Ariadne system. The unit can be placed anywhere in the hall and used by visitors to devise a list of the stands they should visit based on their registration profile. Ariadne is not dependent on an Internet connection. “When you register, you decide what you are interested in, then the system relates this back to what exhibitors will be there,” Harington explained. “Conversely, a list can be provided to exhibitors. “The common thread is to make life easier for organisers and make it cheaper to provide registration services.” For Circdata, innovation is being driven by giving organisers a 360-degree view of show data – from the pre-show information to an ongoing dialogue with visitors. MD James Ormiston said its Fusion data management system is the platform connecting all aspects of registration and show information. From there, Circdata bolts on new modules and applications for both exhibitors and organisers. “We’re building in exhibitor zone functionality to give exhibitors more leverage,” Ormiston said. On the organiser front, it is also adding functions to better manage visitor interaction. He pointed to one example where Circdata helped an organiser implement a forfeit charge for visitors who didn’t attend a show they had registered for. At a visitor level, Circdata has come up with tools allowing individuals to set-up face-to-face meetings while at a show with other visitors or exhibitors. “The crux is allowing access to data efficiently,” Ormiston added. “There’s lots of ongoing innovation here, but all of it is about making the show a more enjoyable experience.”A better exchange As individuals increasingly interact with smartphone apps and social media in their day-to-day lives, they’ll  soon expect to do the same at exhibitions. By combining these platforms with the personal preferences of attendees, registration companies hope they can significantly improve the visitor-to-exhibitor exchange.The ultimate aim? Helping both sides find the ROI they need to continue supporting exhibitions. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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