NFC and iBeacon: Two Technologies Changing the Event Experience

Businesswoman Using Smartphone

New technology is really changing the event game for attendees, exhibitors and organizers. Technology can now assist and help attendees and exhibitors pick the right sessions, find the right people and get the right content at the right time. For organizers, it can help enhance the overall show experience, while at the same time introduce new streams of revenue.

Currently, I am most excited about the following two technologies that we will begin to incorporate into our events and on the show floor that will forever change the event experience:

1) Near Field Communication (NFC): a set of short-range wireless technologies that allow data to be exchanged between smartphones by quickly tapping them together or bringing them into close proximity. Today, many smartphones are being manufactured with integrated NFC capability. 

NFC effectively assists all event stakeholders in receiving and providing information in a streamlined manner. Exhibitors and sponsors can get more customized content to attendees through well placed signs, video boards or exhibit displays that allow for NFC information exchange. NFC also warrants expanded reach at shows and enables attendees to gain information when and where they need it.

2) iBeacon: an indoor positioning system that uses Bluetooth low energy proximity sensing to  transmit a unique identifier that is picked up by an app or operating system that can be turned into  physical location and trigger an action on your smart phone or tablet.

iBeacon gives event producers the ability to seamlessly push out information about sponsors, products and event information to attendees via their smartphone or tablet as they walk around the tradeshow floor, or while grabbing a bite to eat, or even resting in their hotel room (provided the hotel is adjacent to the meeting facility). 

NFC and iBeacon can enhance or create an entirely new event experience for attendees and exhibitors, as well as help develop new revenue opportunities for the organization hosting any meeting or event. These new technologies allow for on-demand material to get to the right attendees at the right time. It will also change the way we register, manage lead retrieval, network with each other and exchange new ideas.

Most importantly, if used correctly, it will help justify return on investment.

I am always excited about technology innovations that help us customize the face-to-face experience for our client organizations in the most efficient way imaginable. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Dave Weil is a vice president in Event Services at SmithBucklin, an association management and services company. He has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including tradeshow management, tradeshow operations, special event planning and conference logistics. Dave can be reached via email at

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