QR Codes on Name Badges Implemented at Last!
As promised in my last blog, it is now time to describe, not only the details of our actual experience implementing QR codes on attendee name badges, but also why we chose the solution we did.
After researching available options and comparing prices, we selected a company (Blacknet Group) that would generate QR codes and provide access to web based lead retrieval software at a very reasonable rate. Attendees and exhibitors could scan each other’s badges with their own smart phones by downloading a free scanning app and enjoy the fact that these contacts were being stored on the cloud somewhere instead of taking up room in their wallet. At the conclusion of the event, each person that took advantage of this ‘free’ scanning was sent a list containing all the contacts they scanned, along with a list of people who also scanned them.
Wow, sounds too easy, right? I would expect any experienced event planner to be suspicious and ask questions like…
• What if an attendee leaves their name badge in the public bathroom? Can anyone come along and steal their information by scanning it with any smart phone?
• What if some of my attendees have a windows phones as opposed to iPhones or Androids? Is there an app for them also, or are they left out?
• What form does this information take in my phone? Does it automatically create a record in my address book?
• What about those that show up onsite and haven’t pre-registered. Are they out of luck?
In my last blog post, I spent some time describing what QR codes actually are. In summary, they are just bar codes. Granted, ones that can encode quite a bit more information than their linear cousins, but, still, they are basically just easily scannable barcodes.
One’s first inclination might be to assume that all the barcode has to do is encode basic demographic information, the same information you would include on a business card, but in an electronic format, like a vCard. However, after a bit of research and internal discussions, we realized that our solution needed to do more than that. It needed to adequately deal with and provide answers to the questions outlined above.
Based on these realizations, we came up with the following set of requirements:
1. The solution needed to implement some level of security so that only other conference participants could scan and gain access to attendee demographic information, and not some random person who might find an abandoned name badge lying on the floor.
2. The solution needed to work for all smart phones / tablets that had a camera and access to the internet, regardless of the operating system.
3. The contact information/lead retrieval data needed to be made available in a format that could be easily imported into CRM systems, like an excel file.
4. The solution needed to work well for last minute/onsite registrants, without anyone needing to type demographic information into a system other than the main registration form.
These requirements were all satisfied by the solution we chose, in part because of the connection that existed between the QR code and a web based application called ZippyQ. The connection was accomplished by creating and assigning unique URLs to each conference registrant. The URL was then encoded into a QR Code and printed on the attendee’s badge. When scanned with a smart phone/device, a browser is launched and the user is automatically taken to this URL. For the first scan, the user is asked for an email/password. Once entered and verified, the demographic information of the ‘scanned’ attendee is displayed in the mobile friendly website and automatically linked to the ‘scanner’s’ record.
So, the cost per attendee was actually a pretty good deal, considering it covered the generation of a unique URL, a QR code image file, the use of web based software that tracked all scanned activity and included a layer of security that was necessary but not inhibitive. Within one week after the conference, each participant was sent a follow-up email which included formatted results in a convenient excel file.
Since the scanning software was a mobile website as opposed to a mobile app, it worked the same for all mobile devices, and no extra app software needed to be downloaded and installed. Additional ‘blank’ QR codes were created and held in reserve for last minute/onsite registrants. These were activated at the last minute by being scanned by an “admin” person working at the registration counter.
You might be wondering how many people at the event actually took advantage of this new technology. Because we were provided usage statistics after the event, we found that more than 200 conference participants performed at least one scan, many of those performed between 10 and 90 scans. Based on these results and feedback from attendees & exhibitors, we feel that this implementation was a success. The solution we chose was a good fit for this particular event, but, keep in mind, there are many companies offering similar QR code/lead retrieval solutions that may include additional bells & whistles; ITN International, 44 Doors, Androlead and Bartizan to name a few, but, many more can be found on Corbin Ball’s Technology Links web page. (Browse the Lead Retrieval and QR Code sections).
The important thing to keep in mind when choosing a partner is that you are not necessarily paying for the creation or printing of QR Codes, but instead, for the features, software and support that makes this solution a success!