Among the many ever-changing trends in the event industry, Near Field Communication or NFC technology is one that’s here to stay. NFC might sound complicated at first, but it's pretty self explanatory—it’s the technology that allows two devices to share information just by being near one another, without swiping or scanning. Typically, NFC enabled devices can work within a range of 10 centimeters (or about four inches) and is sometimes completed via a tap-and-go motion, most often associated with mobile payments such as Apple Pay.
When it comes to events however, NFC is frequently used in attendee badges or wristbands. By taking their badging solution to the next level with NFC, planners can make events more efficient and convenient for attendees, sponsors, as well as themselves. Here's how you can use this exciting technology at your next event!
More Efficient Session Check-in
Keeping track of session attendance is critical for planners as it helps tell them what event content or speakers are popular among their attendees. With that information, planners can put together and market even better event programs in the future. NFC makes session tracking easy for both event organizers and their attendees. For example, event organizers can order customizable pods equipped with NFC readers that they can place outside their speaking session rooms. Attendees can then simply tap their badges to the NFC reader to count make their attendance counted. One staff member can monitor several pods, cutting down the number of staff compared to handheld scanners.
Secure Access Control
Similar to session check-in, by installing NFC readers at doors or entryways, planners can control what attendee types can access certain rooms at certain times throughout their event. A common example is at the exhibit hall, where booth staff can access the space before it's open for regular attendees for set up and break down each day. Other ways to use NFC access control could be for an event staff only break room or a VIP section at a cocktail party. This also creates a data tracking opportunity, as event planners can gain insight into arrival and departure times for various event spaces. Using NFC for accessibility can also act as a solution to cut down on long lines and wait times, as less personal is needed to let people in and out of spaces.
Go Green & Use Less Paper
Picture a busy a trade show exhibit hall: attendees walking up and down countless aisles of booths with their event bags filled to the brim with business cards, flyers, case studies and other printed marketing materials. Now imagine that the overstuffed event bag is gone, and all that attendees are carrying to collect information are their NFC enabled badges, cards or wristbands. Instead of skimming stacks of paper materials at each booth, attendees can simply tap their NFC devices at kiosks or digital displays to collect the resources they need. On top of making things more convenient for attendees, this helps decrease your event's carbon footprint by printing less paper, which is good for your reputation and your budget!
Recommended Resources: Learn how to optimize the attendee journey with the latest event tech.
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Make Your Event Cashless
No one wants to carry around anything they don’t absolutely need nowadays, and NFC technology can allow your attendees to leave their wallets in their hotel room while onsite at your event with a digital wallet feature. Before the show, attendees are given the ability to load money, or tokens, onto their NFC badge. The badge can then be tapped at any booth or stand with an NFC hotspot. The hotspot will consume however many dollars or tokens the item costs and those credits will be deducted from the attendees account. And because NFC works at such a short range, there’s also less chance for payment or personal information theft. So in addition to the convenience of paying for for food, drink and merchandise with a phone or event badge (again, one less thing to carry!), NFC can give attendees that extra level of trust and security when making purchases at your event.
Up Your Event's Cool Factor
When you really think about it, compared to the traditional badge, NFC enabled devices, cards and wristbands are just…cooler. Having attendees tap in and out of session rooms or buying lunch with their badges gives the event experience that extra “wow” factor. Many events planners have also been creative with NFC that goes beyond exchanging information: scavenger hunts, coupon redemption, linking activity to social media accounts, and sharing photos. The key is finding a provider that will help you utilize NFC badges in a way that will best help your audience.
Overall, there are many reasons why to consider introduction NFC technology to you next event. Not only will it improve the attendee experience through increased convenience and engagement, but it could make your event stand out by being ahead of the technology game.
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for relevance and clarity.