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Golf Tournament Tees Up RFID

Open de Saint-Omer, an annual French event, deployed passive RFID tags to streamline access to special areas for VIP guests, as well as better plan future tournaments.
By Brett Neely
The centralized system also enabled organizers to quickly change a badge holder's rights if that person required access to a different part of the tournament—unlike the old system, which would have required issuing a new identification badge or bracelet. According to Marquis, access rights for guests could be changed daily.

One of the greatest challenges implementing the system, Marquis indicates, involved making sure the guest database was accurate from the onset, in order to minimize confusion when guests begin utilizing the system. The data provided by the system allowed tournament organizers an unprecedented level of detail into how guests experienced the event.

VIP ID badges contain 13.56 MHz passive tags complying with the ISO 15693 standard.
"Last year, they had no statistics at all about how the customers were coming and going from the tournament," Marquis states. "Now, we are able to give them figures in real time about how much time customers have spent in the various bars and restaurants." This enabled the organizers to determine which locations were most popular with guests, in order to manage planning for next year's tournament.

Due to European Union privacy regulations, tournament guests had the right to opt out of having their personal information collected. To give them an incentive to participate, the tournament offered a raffle with prizes for those who took part.

The cost of the entire project was €12,000 ($17,000), Marquis says, and some technical sponsors—like Orange and StoreData, a French data-storage firm—helped to finance the project. Two employees from NooliTIC and RFIDEA assisted in setting up the system, with one remaining on-hand throughout the tournament to provide support, though thanks to this year's successful deployment, Marquis notes, that may not be necessary for future events.

Information collected from this year's tournament is already having an impact on planning future events, Grevet says. A virtual-reality driving range at this year's event turned out to have very few visitors, so resources can now be shifted from the simulator to other venues with higher traffic.

Overall, Grevet is extremely pleased with the tournament's experience with RFID. Najeti France, she says, is already considering how to employ the technology in other applications. The resort operator has kept one RFID interrogator from the tournament and is using it at Saint-Omer's clubhouse, so that tournament VIPs who attended the event can now sign in with their event ID badge to receive special discounts. This, she says, affords Najeti an opportunity to deepen its relationship with its customers.

"There's no limit to what we can do with RFID," Grevet states.

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