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RFID Benefits at Business Events

Monitoring attendees can help conference organizers plan and deliver better shows, and provide exhibitors with more qualified sales leads.
By Jennifer Zaino
Nov 17, 2014

The annual, three-day C2MTL (Commerce + Creativity in Montreal) event takes pride in its novel approach to helping business leaders solve problems. At this year's conference, in May, the organizers also implemented an innovative RFID solution from Connect&Go to improve attendees' experience. The solution discreetly monitored access to the event and fostered engagement among guests. It also tracked where attendees were congregating within the 100,000-square-foot Arsenal complex, to ensure there were enough food and beverage servers.

The roughly 4,000 attendees, mostly C-level executives, were issued identification badges embedded with an ultrahigh-frequency tag. Fixed RFID gates set up at the complex's entrance, conference rooms and main forum rooms facilitated a fully contactless and seamless flow. C2MTL wanted attendees to feel welcome and not have security agents looming over them to check their badges to verify access. "Security was not necessarily an issue, but that said, because of the high value of the tickets, we wanted to make sure the right people were getting in at the proper access they paid for," says Martin Enault, VP, partnerships and technology at C2MTL, who notes a ticket cost $3,600 for a three-day package.

A main focus was reducing queues for sessions, Enault adds. The portals were positioned so only the agents could see lights indicating an invalid badge; they could then approach the individual discreetly, says Anthony Palermo, co-founder of Connect&Go and director and co-founder of RFID Academia.

RFID antennas were installed in the chandeliers in networking lounges, where there wasn't enough traffic en masse to justify setting up portals. The antennas detected who was in the area and transmitted their names and titles to a smartphone application, so attedees could know instantly of others' arrivals.

They had to sign up to be tracked like this, Enault notes. It was not done without their knowledge. "The business case for us was fairly simple," Enault says. "Using RFID enabled us to facilitate people meeting each other, and C2MTL is about connecting people and business together. It made networking easier. For us, that is ROI because the more deals being made here leads to more people wanting to come here and more partners for the event."

The information gained from having better insight into attendee flow at this year's event also will help C2MTL organizers plan for 2015, Enault says. Not all guests, for example, attended every conference session; some watched on screens outside conference rooms or were otherwise engaged. For all but a few key speeches, there were more seats than attendees in the rooms. "So we know we can sell more tickets next year without risking people not getting a seat in the conference rooms," Enault says. "The additional tickets we can sell for next year alone can pay for the entire RFID system."

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