We’re in the digital age of event management – but not just in presentation and performance! There’s another element of digital delivery which offers the potential to transform the running of your event into something extremely smooth, streamlined and sophisticated without causing you extra logistical headaches.
RFID – what and how?
RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, is a wireless digital data management system related to NFC (Near-Field Communication). RFID offers the wireless transfer of data, which is encoded onto RFID discs (also known as tags), which are captured by a reading device, using radio waves.
This system is similar to barcoding systems used in stock and information management, in that the captured data can be stored as part of a database. However, the fact that RFID uses radio waves means its user applications are much wider. For instance, traditional barcode reading systems require barcodes to be fully aligned with the scanner, whereas RFID systems can read beyond the line-of-sight of the reading device. Additionally, data can be incorporated into “smart labels” for ease of use and quick transfer of data.
The easiest way to explain RFID technology and its applications is by looking at how it’s already in popular use: Oyster cards. Alphr.com offers a great explanation of how the RFID technology works within Oyster cards and future use of the technology.
Although this technology has been around for about 50 years, it’s only now that we’re starting to become really familiar with what it offers for mainstream use – specifically as it’s the technology behind current contactless debit and credit card systems. And it’s this contactless form of communication and convenience which is really starting to emerge into event management.
RFID – excitement in events
RFID systems are compact to use, requiring hardware of just tag + reader + antenna. The tag itself can form part of a label, or even be presented as a digitised accessory, such as a wristband. As such, it’s an exciting extra for both managing and delivering event experiences:
- For payment: RFID technology is already widely used for payment methods, a notable example being the London Oyster card, where the technology adds speed and convenience to thousands of daily commutes. Implementing this preloading cash technology in events can mean cashless convenience for event personnel and customers alike.
- For access control: RFID can be used to improve the efficiency of event entrances and also opens up the possibility of easy and real-time data tracking of the areas most visited by event guests. Wristbands are popularly used in event management and coding can easily be added to render RFID wristbands non-transferable, avoiding issues such as secondary (inflated price) on-selling of tickets.
The Tomorrowland Festival is an example of using RFID to offer totally cashless festival convenience and access management – with the festival’s wristband managing access and facilitating cashless payment through preloading.
- For information exchange: at business events, RFID is emerging as a fully customisable way to exchange information. A digital alternative to swapping business cards, RFID allows contact information to be easily exchanged between event attendees and allows information to be gathered without the need for handouts, but through the use of personalised information points, digital display and download.
RFID makes it possible to display information alongside corresponding near-field communication (NFC) hotspots. Attendees then just tap their RFID badge/tag /lanyard/wristband towards the information they want to receive, in order to receive digital downloads after the event.
- For wider interactivity: since 2014, RFID has also been part of the Ryder Cup event experience, allowing enthusiastic guests to tap their wristbands to give a virtual high-five to competitors, and to interact with the leaderboard.
RFID for improved event experiences
Across these many applications, using RFID technology enhances event experiences for participants on all sides: those responsible for delivering and evaluating the events, and those attending them.
Enhanced attendee experience
The use of RFID in event management has already been shown to …
- Reduce queuing & time spent at desks.
- Eliminate the need to fill out forms.
- Speed up the use of services and gathering of information, with speedy tapping and waving rather than standing and swiping, stopping and writing.
- Facilitate the personalised digital exchange of information and networking connections.
- Provide personalisation, cohesion, and convenience as part of event attendance, all of which contributes to enhanced attendee engagement – the vital objective of most events.
Enhanced execution and evaluation of events
When it comes to delivering ideas, executing events and evaluating outcomes, including client engagement, RFID is developing a popular following amongst event managers through:
- Reducing demand for manual involvement, such as staffing at registration desks.
- Providing more personalised information, with less paper.
- Conveniently creating digital records of who, what, where, to help event managers identify and evaluate what was or is proving popular with attendees. An important extra from RFID is that it can provide real-time feedback, allowing for adjustments on event day.
- Reducing health and safety headaches as attendees can be accounted for by the technology. For instance, a fire at Tomorrowland’s Unite Spain Barcelona Event led to the evacuation of 22,000 attendees with the RFID technology being credited with enabling organisers to account for all attendees, ensuring the safety of both event-goers and firefighters.
This type of quick-check safety monitoring also has other important health and safety implications, as health and dietary information as shared by attendees can be encoded so that organisers can be aware of allergies and disabilities.
Overall, RFID has the exciting potential to not only transform event management with digital delivery, but also increase engagement not just with technology, but with the events themselves!