- Near Field Communication applications
- Bluetooth Low Energy and Beacon technology
- Analytic data from mobile event apps
NFC (Near Field Communication)
NFC is a short-range wireless connectivity standard to enable communication between devices by touching them together or bringing them within close proximity.
The applications for events are significant, allowing for very fast, secure and simplified means of:
- Electronic ticketing: Use your smartphone to buy a ticket. With NFC, then use your phone as the ticket itself by tapping it to an entrance turnstile or reader to gain event admission.
- Electronic business card exchange: Tap two phones together, or tap a phone to a badge with an NFC chip in it, to exchange business cards or other user-defined data.
- CEU (continuing education unit) tracking: Track your education unit credits by simply tapping your NFC phone to a reader at the meeting room entrance.
- Electronic collection of conference literature, exhibit brochures, course notes and other digital documents: Tap your phone to a sign containing an NFC chip to receive desired data.
- Mobile payments: Tap your phone to a payment system to provide fast, secure mobile payments. NFC payment systems are already used by many vendors (such as McDonald’s).
- Mobile hotel guestroom key: The latest hotel door locks use NFC. This paves the way to check-in to your hotel with your phone, bypass the front desk and walk directly to your room to open the door with your smartphone.
- City passes: A number of cities have transportation and attractions interconnected with NFC technology. It is possible for conference attendees to use their NFC phones or their NFC-chipped badges to access mass transportation and get an “attendee discount” to museums and restaurants. At the same time, the local destination management organization receives specific data regarding the economic impact of a group.
With all smart phones eventually becoming NFC-enabled, this technology will likely be much more widely adopted.
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and Beacon Technology
Beacons are BLE radio transmitters with up to a 150-foot range. They are low cost (about $10) and low maintenance (one battery can last more than a year) and can share information with Apple and later model Android mobile device apps.
This technology holds great promise for events with nearly all of the major event app developers working on ways to incorporate. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Gamification and scavenger hunts: Beacons can be used to encourage attendees to explore the many exhibit halls.
- Location information and navigation assistance: Beacon-enabled apps can notify attendees where they are on a map and give guidance on where they wish to go.
- Personalized welcome and other location-based alert notifications: For example, a badge prints when the attendee enters the geo-fence with notification sent via the app to the badge printing location.
- Social media networking and information exchange: Beacon communication can be two-way. With user permission, the phone app can transmit contact information, social media profiles, specific meeting room access information, meal tracking, food preferences and much more. Communication among attendees will be enhanced with notification/pictures/information about who is nearby.
- Exhibit booth dwell-time measurement: The longer a person is at a booth, the more likely they are interested in the product.
- Automated demonstrations: Videos and other media for any point of interest in a conference venue can be triggered by beacons.
- Targeted exhibitor or event management messaging to participants.
- Automated CEU tracking.
- Local area information and deals: Local area merchants could send discount coupons to convention attendees (if the attendee opts in to receive).
- Loss prevention: AV companies or venues can be notified of unauthorized equipment removal using an RFID tag linked to a geo-fence.
- Attendee action metrics: Organizers will be able to track where attendees are spending their time with alert notifications to problems (i.e. an inordinately long registration line or crowd flow through an exhibit hall).
However, planners and event app developers must take care to use beacons very judiciously - to provide significant value to event participants. If attendees feel that this technology is an invasion of privacy with no payback for them or a “pop up spam” device, they will simply turn off the Bluetooth reception or uninstall the app.
Today, mobile event apps offer an unprecedented amount of analytic data – a goldmine of useful, real-time information to improve the event experience! Every touch is trackable!
App analytics can answer instantly the following questions at any time:
- What are trending hot topics?
- Who are the top speakers?
- What exhibit booths have the most attendance?
- What is the crowd flow through an exhibit hall?
- What speakers/exhibitors are “liked” the most?
- Who are the key connectors/influencers?
- What app features are the most popular?
- Who, when, where, why and how are apps being used?
- What are the attendees’ ratings on specific survey and/or polling questions?
These analytic capabilities will also extend to and interoperate with online registration and membership management systems to provide greater personalization to participants and greater insight into their behavior. Through integrated registration and mobile technologies, it is becoming possible to combine many streams of data generated during event registration, web clicks, exhibitor interactions, mobile app activity, gamification, surveys and more to gain insight to improve events and to facilitate personalization for event participants.