Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) wristbands: they’re everywhere, and they’re both delighting and annoying event goers and event managers with equal aplomb.
The wristbands, with embedded technology, contain customer data that can be accessed by network connections to provide an enhanced event experience for both parties.
An RFID solution, in it’s perfect state, can streamline entry and exit points (with up to 120 swipes per minute!), catch interesting customer data about their movements and purchasing habits throughout the event, and get attendees to interact with event social media all with ease.
In its worst – un-working – state it can incite anger for users and give inspiration for ground staff to simply walk off the job.
So, how do you get it right?
Where RFID can go wrong
Because you work in events you will know that old adage –
“What can go wrong, will go wrong”
But it’s all about mitigating risk.
So what you need here are to identify the risks involved in implementing an RFID solution for your event. Don’t worry – we’ve found the biggies.
1. Your technology fails
With a technology solution, you can leave yourself open to total system failures if you haven’t put system redundancies in place beforehand to deal with them. So what sort of failures are we talking here? Like most tech solutions, you can be blown out of the water if a network goes down, or the power goes out.
For network outages, unless you have a backup service provider, there’s usually not a lot that you can do to fix the network. In this instance, your solution is going to need to have an acceptable method of offline processing that isn’t going to cause massive delays. This strategy needs to be well-planned in advance.
For power outages, you’re either going to need to have backup generators, battery packs, or some other solution in place to deal with scanners not working.
The key to your solution not falling in a heap is to have redundancies built in – like you have in other areas of your events.
2. The RFID bracelets that you bought suck
This is one place where you do not want to cut costs. Different wristband providers all use different RFID chips, made by different companies. Each chip manufacturing process is not the same. Each process will have different quality standards that they hold themselves up to.
To avoid getting a high amount of faulty chips, do your research into the RFID chip producer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like their expected defect rate per 10,000 units and RFID field range. Make sure that you are getting licensed chips that have been carefully tested.
3. You don’t have enough wristband readers
This one can easily be overcome, luckily. Let’s say you’ve got 3000 attendees and just one reader at your point of entry. Although you can read a huge amount of chips in under a minute, you need to think about how this is going to affect crowd flow.
Make sure that you have multiple readers so that entry and exit is streamlined, and always have backups in case of equipment failure!
Got the basics down of how to avoid failure? Great! Now on to the good bit…
What RFID can do for your event
Other than making entry and exit easy that is…
Yup, all vendors at your event can forget about handling cash and have an RFID swipe system for payments instead. It makes things simple for your customers, too. All they have to do is load before or during the event – or even better, link it to a credit card – and they are good to go. Studies have shown that people purchase up to 20% more when RFID systems are in place too, which boosts your profits.
Track your crowd
With multiple entries, exits, and passageways, RFID gives event overseers the opportunity to see crowd movements across events. This can be extremely helpful on multi-day events or for planning out how to arrange your next event layout.
Encourage social media interactions
Imagine swipe stations around your event that automatically post to an attendees linked social media account? “Swipe here to share this song live with your followers!” – brought to you by either your brand, or the sponsors of course.
Enhance sponsorship engagement
While we’re on the topic of sponsors, how about a check in at sponsor booths? Check in to receive 20% off your purchase, a free drink, etc. This way sponsors can collect real data on their customer interactions and thus gauge the effectiveness of their sponsorship dollars at the event.
Before jumping into using RFID technology for your events, you’ll need to take into account both the potential failure points and the potential for positive impact that it can have. RFID is a brilliant use of technology when used effectively – but it involves careful planning and not just a blasé approach to the implementation details.