Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are hot topics at the moment but the underlying architecture, Blockchain, could be the attendee experience silver bullet eventprofs have been waiting for.
Everyone in the finance sector is talking about cryptocurrency. In its most simple form, a cryptocurrency allows people or businesses to exchange money without involving banks or any kind of centralized administration. With that, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are also secure by design, allowing transactions to go through the system without any personal financial information being exposed.
To boil that down even more, it's just like digital cash. The person making the transaction takes an amount of Bitcoins from their digital wallet, puts it in someone else's digital wallet and the transaction is done. The transactions are verified by a peer-to-peer network rather than having to go via a bank, such is the way with all other non-cash transactions.
This is made possible by Blockchain Technology, a decentralized and distributed ledger of information and transactions. This ledger allows important information, such as how much and to whom, to get from the source to the destination unsullied and in complete privacy.
There's More to Blockchain Than Finance
Although Blockchain was originally designed with cryptocurrency transactions in mind, the technology itself can be abstracted and applied to just about any form of information transfer. This could include, for example, the transmission and sharing of customer data between partner organizations or even medical records between doctors. Because of the way Blockchain works, the data cannot be modified, meaning that the information sent remains unchanged when it reaches its destination.
Fundamentally, there is a Blockchain use case for anyone who wishes to share large amounts of transactional data securely with multiple parties.
Blockchain for Events
One industry that could gain clear benefits from Blockchain is the event industry. Events collect and create a lot of data relating to attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. This data usually sits in silos like spreadsheets and the various databases of ticketing, registration and other event apps. With that, an attendee may need to sign up for several different services, giving over identifiable data each time. Not only this but each time an attendee makes a purchase with a credit card, that card data is essentially given to the vendor.
Blockchain would allow, for example, an attendee's ID and transactional information to follow them around an event, or even multiple events without the attendee needing to expose financial or personal details to individual vendors.
The really clever part, however, is that the system doesn't really need to know who a person is at the point of validation. For example, if an attendee buys a coffee and pays for it using their Blockchain ID, all the vendor sees is that a transaction has taken place and the right amount of money has been delivered to them, and as far as the attendee is concerned, they have the product they want and a bit less money. The same is true of access control and other information exchanges. A person's identifiable information doesn't need to be accessed at that point and Blockchain makes that possible.
Blockchain And the Attendee Journey
To better explain how Blockchain could benefit attendees, let's take a look at a fairly typical attendee journey from ticketing, through the event and back home again.
1. Ticketing. At the point of sale or registration, the transaction itself gets a secure ID, as does the attendee. The attendee doesn't need to know this, as it happens in the background. The ID is attached to the ticket which could be anything from a piece of paper with a barcode to an event specific wearable device such as an NFC enabled wristband.
2. Transport. Whether traveling by bus, train or plane, ultimately, it will be possible to connect these to the attendee's ID so that they simply board and go.
3. Accommodation. Many hotels can offer room blocks to events which can be managed by the event team. Using Blockchain to connect that attendee to a hotel room would allow them to arrive at their room, tap their ticket on the door and enter. No need to check in, Blockchain did that as soon as they tapped.
4. Event Check-in. Again, the attendee can gain access to the event by simply tapping their ticket on the turnstile.
5. Session Registration. Attendees can sign up for individual sessions and workshops using their ticket as before.
6. Access Control. Again, using a simple tap of a ticket, the attendee can gain access to the various areas of the event that they are registered to.
7. Refreshments. If the user requires refreshments throughout the event, they will also be able to pay for their food and beverages with a tap.
8. Returning Home. As was the case with getting to the event, the attendee can use the same ticket to get them home.
Extra Benefits for Eventprofs and Attendees
Due to Blockchain's anonymous nature, data can be collected from each of the touch points mentioned above without having any personally identifiable data attached.
Face Recognition and Blockchain - A Match Made in Heaven
The example above used an NFC wristband for simplicity's sake but in theory, Blockchain will work with any form of validation. Perhaps the most interesting and most useful in this context is face recognition. By combining these technologies, the attendee journey could be made even smoother by not having to show a ticket at all. The attendee's face becomes their ID. Face recognition alone is enough to speed up many access control situations. The added security and anonymity of Blockchain could put an end to some of the paranoia associated with face recognition.
Blockchain has proved its worth in the world of finance by helping cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to flourish. Now it's time to see what it can do for the rest of the world. It may not be a "shiny thing" like virtual reality or artificial intelligence but the impact it will have on the transfer of information will be of seismic proportions.
The event industry is becoming ever more data-driven and for that reason, Blockchain could be the technology we've all been waiting for.