New technology and innovation have launched conference and event attendee badges into the future. Which type is right for your attendees?
If there was an emoji for events, it would probably be an attendee badge and a lanyard. Whether it's a conference, festival, trade show or exhibition, attendees need to get into and out of the venue and may need to identify themselves at various points in the event. The trusty attendee badge takes care of all of that and it can also help your attendees identify each other too.
Like many aspects of the event industry, the humble attendee badge has seen its fair share of innovation. As a result, there are now many different options for eventprofs to choose from. This diversity allows event planners to get creative with branding, functionality and most importantly, finding the best fit for the attendee.
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Whatever form your attendee badges come in, there's always an opportunity for creativity. If your event has a theme, why not make the attendee badge part of that? For example, at a poetry convention, the badge might double up as a notebook and pen. A little bit of happiness goes a long way in terms of attendee event experience and your event badges or conference passes could be a quick win.
Attendee Badges For All Occasions
If you're wondering just how creative you can get with a bit of paper on a string, take a look at the list of attendee badge options below. There's much more to attendee badges than meets the eye.
1. Paper Attendee Badges
A piece of paper wedged into a plastic wallet, on the end of a lanyard is the standard for events. Although somewhat old fashioned, the system is uncomplicated and it works. With the help of barcodes and QR codes, the good old paper badge can also interface with ticketing and access control systems. Perhaps above all else, what makes the paper badge so useful is that attendees always know where to look to find someone's name.
Price is always a massive factor when deciding what kind of attendee badge system to use and that's one area where the paper badge excels. Quite often, paper badges can be printed straight from the ticketing system making the whole process very cheap and easy.
The plastic (or plastic-coated paper) wristband is a festival classic. Simply snap it on and it will stay in place until the attendee cuts it off with a pair of scissors. These types of wristband are usually waterproof, which makes them perfect for traipsing around a muddy field.
While wristbands like this are great for access control at festivals, they can't do much else. You could print the attendee name on the wristband but being on the wrist, it's not particularly visible.
3. The Rubber Stamp
For small events, sometimes a simple rubber stamp on an attendee's wrist is all you need. Although this might not be trackable, accountable or useful for identification, for simple access control, it's perfect. It's also pretty hard to forge a rubber stamp!
4. Hackable Badges
If it exists, it can be hacked. Attendee badges are no different, particularly when the event in question is an event for hackers. The electronic badges usually take the form of a printed circuit board (PCB) attached to a lanyard in the traditional style. The PCB, sometimes assembled by the attendee from scratch, usually contains some form of programmable learning and (software/hardware) development platform as well as easter eggs and goodies hidden somewhere in the code.
If it can be hacked, people can build their own - and they do. Unofficial conference badges are becoming more and more popular at security conferences like DEFCON. The privateer badges also usually contain development tools and lots of things hackers like. At DEFCON this year, there were at least 10 different unofficial conference badges.
5. NFC Badges
NFC (near field communication) badges use a similar kind of technology to contactless payment cards. This allows check-in and access to be achieved with a simple tap of the badge on a sensor. NFC systems can also be used to register the interest of an attendee with a particular exhibitor, also with just a tap. NFC badges can take many forms with the most popular being a traditional style pass on a lanyard. NFC chips can also be purchased as paper thin stickers that can be added to paper passes.
6. Wearable Technology
Wearables, such as electronic bracelets, pendants, and pin badges can interact with sensors in a similar way to NFC badges (many contain NFC technology). However, the scope of possibility for wearable devices extends way beyond this with many proprietary eventtech companies adding their own features such as vibration or LED based feedback. Many devices contain a tracking device which can help event staff monitor footfall around the event. Some wearable devices may even contain event or sponsor information and discount codes, accessible by plugging the device into a computer.
7. Biometrics & Face Scanning
Biometrics has been threatening to make a big impact in access control for decades but until recently, the thought of using a fingerprint or retina scan has been just too intrusive for some. However, this is changing. Ever since Apple included fingerprint access for the iPhone, attitudes seem to have relaxed, opening the door for innovation. Fingerprint scanners may still be a little impractical for most events but face scanning is relatively easy and can be performed at a distance, i.e. you don't need to plant your face into a scanner, you can simply stand in front of it.
Let's take a leap into the (probably not too distant) future. It's already possible to have an NFC chip implanted into your finger or your hand and for future events, it's likely that this will be an option for attendee access control and identification. It may seem completely bizarre right now but then, most future tech does when it's in its infancy.
9. Charger Passes
Charging a phone at a concert can be tricky but essential. Until now, the attendee would need to take a separate battery pack for emergency charging. Not anymore. Attendees with VIP passes for the Lady Gaga Joanne tour (August to December 2017) got a nice surprise when they found that the VIP badge was a phone charger. The lanyard itself doubles as a charging cable.
There's nothing humble about the humble attendee badge. It comes in many forms and serves a multitude of functions. There's no ultimate solution but it's important to get the best for your attendees that your budget allows. Adding a little creativity to the mix can really engage your attendees and with attendee badges, there's plenty of scope to do just that.
Thanks to Dahlia El Gazzar for extra input.