Monday, December 30, 2013

1 in 2 Phones Will Soon Have NFC

NFC's champions consider the technology a breakthrough because it makes accessing content and exchanging information more interactive and intuitive than competing technologies. But skeptics have been quick to point out that NFC hasn't caught on everywhere because there aren't enough NFC-enabled smartphones in use.

The landscape is about to change.

According to ABI Research, mobile manufacturers will ship more than 500 million NFC phones in 2014, up from 285 million in 2013. And, according to Frost & Sullivan, by 2015, one in two phones in use will be NFC enabled.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Worried about Privacy Issues?

Are you worried that tracking attendees at your events may be an invasion of their privacy?

For answers, check out the recent article appearing in Meetings & Conventions, "Attendee Privacy."

Authors Michael Lowe and Michael Shapiro offer practical tips for tackling the privacy issue, based on interviews with event planners and attorneys nationwide.

As the authors discovered, most planners are comfortable with today's tracking technology when used for educational session scanning, access control and lead retrieval. That's because the vast majority of attendees at large events have "a reasonable expectation of privacy."

"Planners should include information in registration forms noting what kind of data is being collected, via what methods, how it will be used and how it will be stored," one attorney told the authors.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drive Engagement with Gamification

Games have always scored high as a traffic- and engagement-building tactic. The reasons why are well understood. Games satisfy attendees’ innate needs to compete and win recognition. They also offer attendees the opportunity to bring home highly coveted “swag.”

But today, with the appearance of “gamification” on everyone’s hot-topic list, plus attendees’ near-universal fascination with new mobile technologies, games are undergoing a renaissance at events.

In their own way, ITN's near-field communication (NFC) event badges are contributing to the renewed enthusiasm. Event producers who use ITN have a distinct opportunity to "wow" their attendees with a game, because they can treat every attendee's badge as a "virtual swag bag."

What makes this possible is the ability to encode, as well as read, an NFC chip. That feature of the chip makes the event badge a key ingredient of a buzz-worthy and highly memorable game.
To succeed, you need to design a game aligned with your event's goals and that attendees will find alluring. Here are some design alternatives:

Skills competition. Suppose you want to increase traffic at some specific location.  You could design a game that challenges attendees’ physical or mental skills—anything from hitting a target to taking a quiz. An attendee could earn the right to play the game by completing an action (answering a simple question, for example), for which she earns a digital token that you write onto the attendee’s badge. The attendee then redeems the token to play, and earns more tokens (also written onto the badge) based on the number of points scored in the game. Afterwards, the attendee redeems all the digital tokens won for a matching-level prize by visiting your winner’s station.

Treasure hunt. Suppose you want to offer exhibitors a traffic-building sponsorship opportunity. You could design an old-fashioned treasure hunt. Attendees could earn points toward prizes by visiting a series of exhibits, where each participating sponsor rewards them with tokens written onto their badges. After the series of visits, the attendees would circle back to the lead sponsor's exhibit, where they would enter a prize drawing by redeeming their digital tokens.
Game show.
Suppose you want attendees to actively listen, while you communicate a lot of information. You could train a presenter to act as MC, and design a game show that challenges players’ knowledge. Attendees would play by using tablets that—before activating the game—capture their contact information with a touch of the show badge and prompt them to answer a quiz. Based on their game-show scores, players would be awarded variously valued digital tokens (written onto their badges), which they could redeem for the corresponding prizes.

Suppose you want to collect market research from attendees. You could send them on a “mission.” Under this scenario, attendees would earn digital tokens on their badges by visiting a series of kiosks, where they complete your research surveys, presented on tablets. Players who take part in the mission (even the ones who don’t complete it) would receive real-time recognition on a leaderboard and through social-media posts, as well as collecting digital tokens they can redeem for rewards.

Chance. Suppose you want to draw a crowd and maximize word-of-mouth throughout the event. You could design a game of chance. Attendees who play would win digital tokens worth various amounts that they could redeem for refreshments at participating concessions throughout the venue.

Want to boost attendee engagement? Consider integrating a game into your next event.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Giants Loving NFC

Corporate giants like Google, Visa and McDonald's are singing the praises of near-field communication (NFC), due to its ability to dish out direct advertising and return real-time consumer data, according to Popular Science.

Because NFC is being built into the new generation of smartphones, it won't be long before most consumers will be able to pay for purchases and interact with brands through touch.

Advertisers won't use NFC only to deliver consumers coupons, promos, samples and other "digital perks," but to collect marketing intelligence, just as they do now on Websites.

"When you make an NFC purchase, your phone isn't just transmitting your bank numbers for payment. It can also transmit your buying habits and demographic information," Popular Science writes.

"That sounds terrifying, but for the most part that kind of information is already out there and being used every time you buy an app, or anything from Amazon, or search for a product on Google. NFC just has the potential to make that data available instantly and in real time, which is exceedingly valuable to marketers and retailers and other people who care that you prefer Five Guys to Shake Shack. And instead of coupons, you might get beamed advertising insteadintensely targeted ads tailored to your latest purchase."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lead Qualification Should Come First

What defines success for an exhibit manager?

"It's all about the qualified leads you collect," says Mike Sorgani, our VP, Sales.

Mike was recently interviewed by the Sales Lead Management Association's SLMA Radio.

Tune in and learn why lead qualification should be every exhibit manager's passion.

Friday, June 7, 2013

New Event Badge Format Introduced

ITN rolled out its new NFC paper badge with coaster at WIMA 2013. Click and see how it's issued—in under five seconds!

CTIA Goes for the Gold

VIPs attending CTIA 2013 in May experienced an event-industry first.

They were issued NFC badges printed with gold foil.

Silver-foil NFC badges were also issued to "ambassadors" (loyal alumni) attending the event.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wall Street Journal Says Big Badges are In

According to The Wall Street Journal, super-size badges are rapidly gaining traction with event producers. 

"Organizers have requested larger badges, in the style of 'backstage passes,' allowing them to print sponsored logos and ads on the front and an entire agenda on the back," reporter Leslie Kwoh notes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Smart Move

ITN is helping CEDIA move from a 15-year-old, proprietary system to its registration platform, RegPlex. 

CEDIA's Debbie Antrim told Event Tech Briefs, "Having a customized system for many years, we were very hands on and used to guiding the process. With a new vendor on the cutting edge of technology, we had to stand back and listen to the experts."

CEDIA's Sarah Smith said, “Even though the proprietary system had been developed and changed over the years, we looked at where we stood and discovered ITN’s system had a lot of things that we hadn’t even thought of."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ease: NFC's Clear Advantage

Successful Workplace reports that QR Codes, because they require users to take extra steps, are rapidly losing ground to NFC.
"Just as some of the world realized what QR codes actually are, the shift is happening toward Near Field Communication (NFC) instead," writes columnist Jeanne Roué-Taylor.
Both technologies serve the same function, Roué-Taylor says, but with a major difference in the user experience.
Both "create a digital bridge to physical collateral," but QR Codes are "too clunky" and demand "too many steps from ‘notice to value,’" while "NFC, simply put, is easier to use."
NFC is a "virtual doorway" that's driving the "move toward the Internet of Things," Roué-Taylor says.
While QR Codes demand that users change platforms to acquire collateral, NFC enables them "to invisibly pass through electronic borders without changing platforms."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NFC Tags, One. QR Codes, Zero.

NFC World reports that NFC tags have beaten QR Codes for in a popularity contest.

"We have found that the NFC tags are more popular than the QR codes, because they are very simple to use," Dutch retailer Vic told the trade publication.

In a test, Vic plac
ed NFC tags and QR Codes throughout its store.
Both allowed shoppers to access product Websites, discount coupons and promotional videos using their smartphones.

The NFC tags were used more frequently than the QR Codes.

"It is definitely something we hope to keep in our store going forward into the future; it is our way of connecting our online and offline worlds."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Welcome to the Mobile Movement. Resistance is Futile.

Event technology guru Corbin Ball provided today’s guest post. His bimonthly newsletter Tech Talk is read by more than 9,200 planners worldwide.

When he was still governor of New York, future President Martin Van Buren wrote a letter to sitting President Andrew Jackson complaining about a new form of “mobility.”

“The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as railroads,” Van Buren wrote. “Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of fifteen miles per hour. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed."

How often, like Van Buren, do event planners swear that the Almighty never planned for attendees to use their mobile phones?

All humans are naturally resistant to change, but planners are even more so. That’s because event technology is often mission-critical. If it blows up your face, your job is on the line.

That said, the sheer rate of technology-driven change is unprecedented—and overwhelming. The number of options presented every year paralyzes planners into inaction.

But planners shouldn’t resist new technology—particularly the technology behind today’s “mobile movement.” Because to do so is to guarantee your event will become noncompetitive. Digital Darwinism is the name of the game today. Don’t adapt and you’ll perish.

If you want to blame someone for the situation, blame attendees, not smartphone manufacturers.

Attendees are carrying around more computing power in their pockets than fit in several rooms a generation ago. And they like the feeling. In fact, attendees are ready participants in the mobile movement, and are on a path to make ever-increasing demands on you to give them the same digital conveniences others give them every day.

What should you do to prepare yourself for the future?

Stay aware of the technology that’s trending. Right now, that’s mobile (and social) media. But more new technology is due on the scene any day—and poised to usher in more change in the next five years than it did in the past fifteen.

Do your research. Read newsletters and blogs voraciously. Talk to peers. Pick consultants’ brains and ask vendors to provide you background and best-practice information.

Evaluate and forge ahead. As a planner, no one is better positioned than you to evaluate new event technology. You’re on the front line. You know what matters to attendees. And you understand what’s at stake.

Charles Darwin said it best: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NFC Hits "Point of No Return"

"NFC has reached the point of no return," says ABI Research’s John Devlin. "It all hinged on handsets; and next year we will see half-a-billion devices in the hands of consumers as it becomes more widely integrated."

The number of NFC devices in use will exceed 500 million in 2014, with 285 million shipped this year alone, according to ABI.

Companies like Blackberry and Samsung have implemented narrow strategies around NFC. As a result they are setting themselves apart.

Others, like LG and Sony, are horizontally integrating NFC into a broad array of products—not only mobile phones and tablets, but PCs, peripherals, speakers, TVs, cameras, games and appliances.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wall Street Journal Trumpets NFC

Ben Rooney, writing for The Wall Street Journal, says the recent Mobile World Congress makes clear "that Near Field Communication might finally be about to have its day."

NFC was pervasive at Mobile World Congress, Rooney notes. "If you had the right phone you could bypass the entrance queues with an NFC-powered 'badge' on your phone. The halls were strewed with NFC-powered 'smart' posters that would unlock all manner of hidden secrets if you tapped them with your smartphone, from restaurant information to directions to the nearest restrooms. There were demonstrations that allowed you to play music on headphones, test if products were genuine or counterfeit, or that let you replace your car keys or your house keys with just your phone."

Yes, other technologies let you do these things, Rooney says; but none beats an NFC-enabled phone when it comes to convenience.

"Yes, you can travel with Oyster card, but if it runs out of money you have to queue to charge it up. With an NFC-enabled phone you don't. Yes, you can read QR codes, but you have to have the app installed, and there have been cases of people covering over QR codes on posters with malicious codes that direct users to nefarious websites. Yes you can print out your boarding pass for a flight, or even have it delivered to your phone, but you have to have the app open—and your phone has to be on. NFC-enabled ticket apps can work with the phone off. They will even work—under some circumstances—if your battery runs flat. Some NFC readers can generate enough power in your phone to power up the security chip, which may be at least enough to get you home."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

BCARD Platform Introduced at EXHIBITOR 2013

On March 18, ITN will introduce BCARD Platform during EXHIBITOR 2013.

"Anywhere, anytime and always on," BCARD Platform is a mobile lead management system exhibitors can use at any kind of event, no matter whether digital badges are issued.

Leads can even be captured during face-to-face encounters at the office, the airport, the golf course or the watering hole.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Booth Bump

Eric Franklin of CNET grabbed this close-up of a badge-read during Mobile World Congress. He labels it a "booth bump."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BizBash Offers an NFC Primer

BizBash's Mitra Sorrells has written a fantastic primer on NFC's application to events.

She interviews ITN's CEO, Ivan Lazarev, who explains how NFC enables key functions like inventory control, attendee tracking, session evaluation, food & beverage management, lead retrieval, and post-event followup.

Sorrells also explores the likely move to badge-less events.

As NFC smartphones become pervasive, event badges will "live" inside attendees' phones. Paper badges will serve merely as visual markers of attendees' identities.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NFC is Awesomely Easy

galaxy s3 tv ad work trip NFC is Awesomely EasyWriting for event planner Greg Ruby's blog Gems, Bob James, ITN's Vice President, Marketing calls NFC "awesomely easy."
"A lot has been said (rightfully so) about the 'game-changingimpact near-field communication (NFC) will have on events," James writes. "Less has been said about how easy it is to use NFC."
Ease-of-use is one key reason NFC has been adopted by major business-to-business event producers worldwide, including CTIA, IBC and GSMA, and by large business-to-consumers organizations like the Walt Disney Company.
With NFC, functions like event ticketing, access control, games and contests, session scanning, lead retrieval and attendee tracking becomes suddenly easier—and less intrusive—than ever before.
If you’re not yet using NFC, you’re probably aware of how it works from Samsung’s edgy TV commercial, “Work Trip.”

Bye, Bye, QR Codes. NFC's Here!

Writing for Successful Workplace, Jeanne Roué-Taylor says that QR codes are rapidly losing out to NFC.
"Just as some of the world realized what QR codes actually are, the shift is happening toward Near Field Communication (NFC) instead," Roué-Taylor writes.
Consumers have killed the QR code, Roué-Taylor says.

They told us that QR codes were too clunky and had too many steps from ‘notice to value’."
Roué-Taylor quotes Fusion92's Jacob Beckley, who said, "Both NFC and QR codes serve a similar function: they are a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. NFC codes create a digital bridge to physical collateral, and unlike calls to action that require consumers to type in a URL or scan a code to get redirected to an online message, with NFC, all the consumer has to do is touch their smartphone or mobile device to the collateral for an instantaneous connection."
Roué-Taylor likes the opportunities NFC presents for new conveniences in the workplace:
  • Security through identity management
  • Authorization and workflow exception management
  • Process kickoff and continuation
  • Property location and loss prevention
  • Time-cards (checking in or out of a job site)
"NFC offers a host of benefits that are part of our accelerating move toward the Internet of Things," Roué-Taylor concludes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Super Geek Wanted!

ITN needs a .NET developer in its Salt Lake City office.

The developer will work with our clients in the consultative phase of projects to develop and document requirements, then move on to designing, prototyping, testing and publishing applications to production.

International travel is part of the gig.

Know a qualified candidate? Tell her to send a resume to


Help Wanted

ITN needs to hire an Event Project Manager (EPM) in its Bethesda, Maryland, office.

Our EPMs manage the people, software and equipment required to execute projects for our clients. In this role, the individual will:
  • Focus on customer service delivery
  • Communicate with clients throughout all levels of their organizations
  • Monitor deadlines and anticipate activities
  • Set up and maintain servers, laptops, printers, mobile devices, networks, etc., at events
  • Assess the needs for resources and formulate recommendations
  • Coordinate the work of both ITN staffers and outside contractors
  • Track project milestones and deliverables
  • Prioritize and execute tasks
  • Respond to clients’ inquires and requests
  • And more
Know a qualified candidate? Tell her to send a resume to

Friday, February 1, 2013

The NFC Experience at Mobile World Congress

Later this month, the mammoth Mobile World Congress will showcase "The NFC Experience," enabling attendees to take full advantage of near-field communication while visiting the event.
“We’re excited to launch The NFC Experience for Mobile World Congress, as it provides attendees to the event the opportunity to experience first-hand the power of NFC technology both throughout the Mobile World Congress venue, as well as in the city of Barcelona,” said Michael O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer, GSMA, which sponsors the event.

During registration, attendees with NFC-enabled handsets (Android 4 and above or Windows Phone 8 operating system) can opt to receive "virtual badges." These permit show entry with a physical badge, but without any need to present a photo ID.

Attendees with NFC-enabled handsets will also be able to take advantage of NFC "touchpoints" that will be placed throughout the the walkways, entrances and exhibition halls of Fira Gran Via, as well as the city of Barcelona.

The touchpoints will reward attendees with instant access to information about conference sessions, keynotes, exhibits, restaurants and nearby conveniences. NFC touchpoints will also be placed the airport, key hotels and select tourist attractions.

Topping off The NFC Experience, attendees will also be able to pay for taxis and shop goods with NFC.

Exhibitors can take full advantage of NFC for lead retrieval by working with ITN. To learn more about our offerings, watch a brief Webinar, How to Optimize Lead Retrieval at MWC.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

NFC: The Future of Marketing

Firebrand has declared NFC the "new transformative technology that will change marketing forever."

According to the firm, three applications will drive the transformation:

Tags. "This is where marketing can shine," Firebrand says. "You see a poster of the latest blockbuster Hollywood movie at a bus shelter. You then tap the NFC tag to view the movie trailer, download an app or game associated with the film, and buy the movie ticket instantly. Wow!"

Sharing. Users bumping their peers' smartphones "will be the way customers share branded information."

Payments. Bye, bye credit cards! You'll use your phone to pay for almost everything, "from purchasing a bus or train ticket, taxi fare, buying a Coke at a 7-11 or paying for your groceries at the checkout."

"NFC is going to make your advertising and marketing so much more effective, as it brings the digital world into the real world," the firm says.

Customers will walk into a retail store, tap an NFC tag on a product to open a price comparison Website, see real-time ratings and reviews of the product on social media, and buy it. 

"All marketing collateral will feature an NFC tag (replacing the cumbersome website URL or phone number) that prompts you to download more information," the firm predicts.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Data, Data Everywhere

We're on board with the recommendation of PCMA in its fascinating new white paper, Scenarios for the Future: Convention Exhibits & Tradeshows of 2016.

PCMA urges producers to act now to put in play systems for collecting and analyzing event data, and to find ways to turn that intelligence into new profits:
Data, about everything that goes on/in/at an event, will become increasingly more important as guides to the successful design and execution of an event for exhibitors, attendees and organizers. Therefore, a data collection system and protocol analysis will need to be undertaken now by an Event Team in order to determine what kind of system needs to be designed and implemented as part of the event production process in the future. Included in this analysis should be a look at how the collected data will be analyzed, utilized as part of the decision making process and how it can potentially be monetized.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why Event Producers Should Stay on "Digital Alert"

PCMA asks event producers to flash forward in its intriguing new white paper, Scenarios for the Future: Convention Exhibits & Tradeshows of 2016.

Among the white paper's "major take-aways" is the warning (on Page 31), "Stay on digital alert and implement technology."

The paper states:

The rate of digital penetration in your industry will dictate how aggressive an event must be to incorporate new technology into its design and execution. The important point from this study is that the Event Team must be on "early-alert" to the changes taking place in its market-space and competitive environment, correctly assess those changes, and then implement an appropriate response to defend its event or even increase its competitive position in that market-space.

We couldn't agree more.

The potential price of ignoring or "dissing" new technology is too high to ponder.

Unless you plan to retire in the next 24 months.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zippity Do Dah!

Disney goes NFC. 

Travel Weekly reports, "In what is being hailed as a game-changing technology for the theme park industry, the Walt Disney Co. last week announced a new MagicBand bracelet that will enable guests at Walt Disney World to enter the parks, purchase food and merchandise, unlock their hotel rooms and access certain rides with a wave of their wrists."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ITN is Trending

Trade Show Executive likes our new attendee app, My BCARD.

The magazine has included us in its New Product Roundup in the current issue. Read more.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why NFC is the Next Big Thing

On Liz King Events' blog, our VP of marketing describes how NFC will transform your events. NFC "bridges the gap between the real and virtual worlds," allowing attendees to access content with just the touch of a smartphone.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Future is Here

Science fiction writer William Gibson said, "The future is already here—it's just not very evenly distributed."

We think that situation is about to change.

Watch this space for big news from ITN.

And have a Happy New Year!