I know that using the technology at festivals and large conferences has real benefits. But in terms of maximizing ROI based on the cost of tags, readers and software integration, is it worth using it at smaller conferences?
I don't think the size of the event makes any difference. RFID has been used on tickets to ensure that only the right people get into Academy Award ceremonies (see RFID Helps Protect Oscar Winners), and that's only a few hundred people.
I think the return on investment comes from what you are trying to achieve. Event organizers are chiefly using RFID for two reasons. One is to reduce the counterfeiting of tickets. It's easy to print fake tickets, but it's more difficult to reproduce an RFID tag with a unique serial number. So, if a small event with high-value tickets were seeing bogus tickets being sold, it might make sense to use RFID.
The second reason is to enhance the attendee experience and perhaps drive sales at concession stands. Most shows have created kiosks that allow people to check in on Facebook and perhaps post a photograph from the event on their Facebook page. Sporting events sometimes allow attendees to buy things at the event using just a wristband, which is linked to a credit card account beforehand. If there are opportunities to drive more sales or increase customer loyalty, then it might make sense to invest in an RFID system.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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