Event Tech Strategy, Insights & Trends.

Tech Tuesday: Increase Convenience and Wow Attendees with NFC

Among the many ever-changing technology trends in the events industry, NFC, or near field communication, might be one that’s here to stay. NFC might sound complicated at first, but it can also be pretty self explanatory—it’s the technology that allows two devices to communicate information with each other just by being near one another, without swiping or scanning. NFC enabled devices can work within a range of 10 centimeters (4 inches) and is often completed by a tapping motion (i.e. tapping a smartphone with a credit card on it to a point of sales pad).

Though most often associated with mobile payments, NFC has the potential to make events more efficient and convenient for attendees, sponsors and organizers themselves. In fact, some events have already been using this technology in many interesting ways by activating NFC chips in event badges and wristbands.

Learn more about the benefits of NFC and why you should consider adding it to your next event.

Increasing convenience

Hands down, the number one benefit of NFC technology is convenience. Picture a busy a tradeshow exhibit hall, for example: attendees walking up and down countless aisles of booths, with their event bags filled to the brim with business cards, flyers, case studies and other paper marketing materials. Now imagine that the overstuffed event bag is gone, and all that attendees are carrying to collect information are their NFC enabled badges, cards or wristbands. Instead of skimming stacks of paper materials at each booth, attendees can simply tap their NFC devices at kiosks or digital displays to collect the resources they need. One great example was at the 2013 International Broadcasting Convention held in Amsterdam, where organizers created a wall displaying 30 publications from their event sponsors. Using their NFC enabled badges, attendees just tapped a publication image on the wall to receive a digital copy. It works both ways too, by the way; in that same tap, booth sponsors can digitally collect attendee information to follow up with later.

Added security and cashless payments

Along with making the event experience more efficient on the exhibit hall floor, NFC has the added benefit of being more secure with dealing with cashless payments. Because NFC works at such a short range, there’s less chance for payment or personal information theft. So in addition to the convenience of paying for for food, drink and merchandise with a phone or event badge (again, one less thing to carry!), NFC can give attendees that extra level of trust and security when making purchases at your event.

NFC can be used for added security for other events like voting or contests. Since 2012, foodie company Tasting Table has given their annual Lobster Roll Rumble attendees NFC enabled wristbands in order to vote for their favorite version of the New England classic sandwich. In prior years, paper votes were inefficient and text voting was compromised when they discovered non-attendees could vote this way.


By installing NFC readers at your doors or entryways, you can remove the need for a paper ticket or email barcode for entry. You can also better control on who has access to what, whether it’s an event staff only break room or a VIP attendee section at a cocktail party. This also creates a data tracking opportunity, as event planners can gain insight into arrival and departure times for various events. Using NFC for accessibility can also act as a solution to cut down on long lines and wait times, as it did for Salt Lake Comic Con. Upon registration, all 45,000 attendees were sent their NFC wristbands in the mail and 30 NFC readers managed entry onsite.

The cool factor

When you really think about it, NFC enabled devices, cards and wristbands are just…cool. As a relatively new technology, jumping on board now will give your event that extra “wow” factor for both attendees and sponsors before it becomes the norm. Many events planners have already been creative with NFC that goes beyond exchanging information: scavenger hunts, coupon redemption, linking activity to social media accounts, and sharing photo booth photos. Event planners have also encouraged the use of technology among attendees through prizes or discounts.

So there are many reasons why to consider introduction NFC technology to you next event. Not only will it improve the attendee experience through increased convenience and engagement, but it could make your event stand out by being ahead of the technology game.

Do you use you use NFC at your events? Know a cool example from an event you’ve attended? Share in the comments.

2 Responses to “Tech Tuesday: Increase Convenience and Wow Attendees with NFC”

  1. Pascal Lagadec

    Couldn’t agree more with convenience, benefits and wow-factor… KONDUKO has been successfully running ‘Smart Events’ based on NFC technology. The simplicity of these deployments ensure that all attendees are empowered to engage at events. While the digital show bag concept delights visitors, the benefits for exhibitors in terms or ROI and lead generation, as well as for organisers in terms of analytics gathered from activity-based interactions on the show floor is second to none…

  2. Stephane Doutriaux

    Hi Lauren, great post! It’s encouraging to see more interest in NFC, it’s definitely an “up and coming technology”. Thanks for referencing IBC’s 2013 deployment, Poken provided the “Touch & Connect” platform for that show. We have many great pictures of how the NFC “Touch to collect” and “Touch to connect” boosted engagement & improved lead-generation results for exhibitors, if you want I can send you some or you can check out the photo gallery at http://www.poken.website/gallery/ .
    You covered many of the core benefits of NFC in your article (collecting digital collateral, digital payment, gamification). We’ve been offering NFC bracelets, stickers (to apply to a paper badge, to turn it into a “smart badge), and more advanced tools, and what we find is a real game changer is the person-to-person interaction: That takes the use of NFC to a whole over level, because the “touch” is such a powerful tool and experience, especially when experienced between two participants (touching their devices to exchange business cards, for example). Here’s a video that you and your readers may appreciate, it shows how engaging this technology is for Boy Scouts events: https://vimeo.com/156281872


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