QR codes were developed in 1994 as a way of improving inventory methods, but now have many more applications besides inventory management. When applied thoughtfully, QR codes can enhance corporate events in a variety of ways. Here, we explain why QR codes are so handy as event technology and offer up ways to use QR codes for events.
What Are QR Codes?
Quick response codes—or QR codes—are a kind of barcode, just like the universal product codes (UPCs) that are used on packaged items in stores. QR codes are an upgraded version of UPCs because QR codes can be machine-read more quickly and are capable of holding much more information. The largest QR codes can hold thousands of characters. This information is stored by a unique matrix of black and white pixels, which can be read by dedicated QR-code readers, as well as most smart phones.
Why Use QR Codes at Events?
QR codes are simple and easy-to-use technology that has lots of potential for events. Why are more people using QR codes for events? Because they are:
- Quick: When you replace a process with QR codes, the biggest benefit you get is speed. Whether it’s issuing tickets, checking in, or something else, the process is completed much more quickly.
- Easy: Scanning a QR code is easy, and literally everyone can do it. Almost everyone these days has a phone that can read QR codes.
- Flexible: You have full control over the data in the QR codes you create, and you can change it on the fly if need be.
- Contactless: It’s become good practice to minimize physical contact where possible. Some people even prefer contactless events. Along with all the other benefits, processes that involve QR codes can be contactless, which makes them desirable to many people.
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1. QR Codes for Event Promotion
If promoting your event includes print materials like posters and brochures, a QR code can be a great way to get around the space limitations of printed media. The amount of space you have on a printed poster is finite, but there’s always room for a QR code. And the QR code can link to whatever webpage you want.
Program the code to link the user to your event website, and you’ve created an easy way for people to get more information about your event. Or, for ads that are targeted to people who are already in the sales cycle, program the QR code to send the user to your event registration page. Either way, it’s a quick and easy process: Users need only scan the code using their phones to be sent directly to the webpage of your choosing.
When using QR codes for event promotion or marketing materials, make sure to create unique codes for each piece of media to which you add codes. By tracking how often each QR code is used, you’ll get useful information about how effective each type of advertising is.
2. QR Codes for Contactless Ticketing and Check-In
Many events are looking to adopt contactless ticketing on a permanent basis. QR codes are a great option for this purpose, as they can be used for both ticketing and check-in.
For ticketing, attendees can either print their own tickets at home or automatically generate their tickets at the event, at a QR kiosk. Either way, to check in, all they need to do is have their event ticket scanned by a QR reader. Alternatively, attendees can be issued a unique digital QR code and check in by displaying the code on their phone to a QR reader.
QR codes allow both ticket sales and event check-in to be completely contactless. It also means these processes can be completed much more quickly. Nobody has to contend with lengthy waits in line, there are no huge lobby crowds to push through, and you avoid bottlenecks that can cause attendees to be late to the first session.
3. QR Codes for Admissions and Capacity Management
All venues have maximum capacities, and exceeding a venue’s maximum capacity is both a fire hazard and a fine waiting to happen. Keeping track of attendee numbers and attendee locations is something QR codes can help with. Even better, they can do it in real-time. QR codes, in combination with QR management software, can help you accurately keep track of where attendees are in a venue, as well as how many are present overall.
4. QR-Powered Event Amenities
Event Navigation: Rather than relying on a help desk or information kiosk, QR codes can help event attendees access information and directions. One simple way to do this is to create a QR code that directs users’ phones to display a map of the venue.
Food and beverages: QR codes can be used to make food service contactless as well. One way to do this is by linking the menu to a QR code. Attendees simply scan the QR code to see the menu and place their orders digitally.
5. QR Codes for Prizes and Giveaways
Most event attendees enjoy getting swag and will happily give their contact information in exchange for the chance to win a prize.
Typically, this means visiting a booth and either handing over a business card or completing an entry form. But now, where contactless communication is preferred, QR codes can be a viable alternative. With this option, attendees only have to use their phones to quick scan a QR code that confirms the user’s name and contact details and automatically enters them into the prize draw. It’s fast, easy, and can be completely contactless too.
It’s even possible to devise an entire game centered around QR codes. These games make ideal scavenger hunts, inviting attendees to explore a venue in search of the themed QR codes you’ve hidden around the spaces. Many organizations have tried this method to great effect: Notably, the Coachella music festival did this in 2019, with conservation-themed activities that invited participants to complete a range of challenges in exchange for prizes.
QR Analytics Can Give You Valuable Information
QR codes don’t just add layers of convenience to an event. Each QR interaction also represents information about attendee behavior. Collectively, all those interactions mean extra data that can provide additional insights. For instance:
- Create unique QR codes for event promotions. For instance, if you decide to run A/B tests on two different print ads, give each a unique code so you can determine which ad resonates with your audience.
- QR codes can show you what kinds of devices people are using when they scan your codes. If necessary, you can adjust associated landing pages to provide a better user experience.
- For event navigation codes, using unique codes for each navigation point at the event can show you if there are any particular spots where people are getting lost. You can then add extra navigation aids for subsequent event days.
- QR code analytics display scan times, showing you when attendees use particular codes. This can help you better manage crowds and provide improved access to amenities and vendor services, since you can scale up access during periods of high demand.
- After the event, QR analytics can form a useful part of your post-event reporting. Plus, all that data provides information about attendee behaviors that will be helpful when planning future events.
How Could QR Codes Improve Your Next Event?
Implementing QR codes and QR code tracking for your next event could provide a range of benefits. Attendees will love the convenience of contactless ticketing and check-in. Streamlining event processes with custom QR codes makes event management easier too. QR codes can benefit everyone involved with an event—attendees and organizers alike!