"RFID technology, or radio frequency identification, is my hot-pick for 2013," says Gabriel. "While it's not new to South Africa, it is however, still a relatively new concept for most marketers."
And LOGIC hopes to start changing that, by showing marketers just how much value RFID can add to their events and activations."
But what value can a technology currently employed more in the retail and warehousing industries to track products have for marketers? What is RFID?
Put simply, RFID uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from an RFID microchip to an RFID reader. Using its embedded antenna and drawing electromagnetic power from the RFID readers around it, the RFID chip can transmit significant quantities of information that can be read from several metres away, even from within a pocket or bag.
Samantha Gabriel, founder and director of LOGIC
This makes it ideal for tracking products, but also equally valuable when it comes to guest logistics and creating memorable event experiences. "The applications in the eventing industry are staggering," says Gabriel. "Not only can you streamline processes like registration and event access control, but you can bring a whole new level of interactivity to your events and activations."Making event logistics simpler
On a purely logistical level, RFID technology makes guest or delegate management that much easier. Guests check themselves in at computer consoles, and are then given RFID-fitted wristbands, badges or tags.
"You can now uniquely identify each person at your event, whether by specific name or a more generalised demographic, such as 'adult female'," says Gabriel. "RFID readers can read hundreds of RFID badges simultaneously, giving you a global view of your event at any moment. As an organiser, you can know instantly how long people are staying in certain areas, where the event hot spots are, which aspects of your event are being under-utilised or visited, and where the peak foot traffic is. You can now make real-time decisions about event staffing and security."
Since RFID tags can be written to, they can also be used to simplify access control, giving layered access to VIP areas, parking areas, media rooms, or other side events such as plenaries and closed meetings. Guests simply tap their conference badge or RFID wristband to the reader at the door or gate to gain access. "It's a huge step up from the colour-coded badges and VIP nametags most events currently use," says Gabriel. Bringing the online to life
What Gabriel believes will have marketers really sitting up and taking notice though, is how RFID can be used to bring the digital world into the here and now.
It's what Dean McKain, executive creative producer of LOGIC's parent company, VWV, calls "the convergence of live and digital".
Gabriel explains. "RFID lets brands bring their online, social presence to life in the real world," she says. "It's a simple case of guests signing in to your event using their Facebook username and password, information which is then recorded on their unique RFID tag. They can now link everything they do at your event to their Facebook page."
The interactive opportunities are numerous. "Think interactive games and activities using touch-screen booths or iPads, where visitors scan their RFID badge to design their own car model at a motor show, or create their own avatar at a gaming expo. Then with one click of a button, they can post this branded interaction to Facebook, instantly."
Or, she continues, guests can take photos of themselves at RFID-enabled booths, and place their picture onto various branded event-themed backgrounds. They then post their photo directly to Facebook. Roving event photographers with portable RFID readers can upload auto-tagged photos of guests, simply by scanning people's RFID tags before snapping the pic.
Visitors can scan their RFID badge at "Like" stations, giving a digital thumbs-up to various aspects of your event. They can post comments about the event at iPad stations where a tap of their RFID tag takes them immediately to their Facebook page.
"There are so many possibilities," says Gabriel. "All it takes is an idea, an app, and an RFID tag to transform your event from the everyday to a truly interactive experience."Putting events into perspective
The benefits of RFID don't however, end with the close of the event; the post-event reports generated by RFID technology are in a class of their own.
"Organisers need no longer rely only on gate figures and post-event research for their visitor analytics," says Gabriel. "RFID readers capture a wealth of information about visitors which can be accessed during the event, or analysed in depth afterwards."
This data includes everything from when people arrived and how long they stayed, to foot traffic patterns, attendance at various off-shoot events, and which aspects of the event appealed most to which demographic.
"From start to finish, RFID is truly a win-win for marketers," says Gabriel. "It's affordable, it's simple to employ, and it has such varied and valuable applications within the eventing space. If you have only one New Year's resolution for 2013, it should be to get to grips with and embrace this amazing technology."