Event Passes and Security: The Pros & Cons of RFID

From tradeshows and concerts to sporting events and conferences, it’s never too early to start thinking about event security. Pairing your access passes with RFID technology is one way you can ensure the safety of your event without intruding on the experience of your attendees. But, is it the right solution for you?

Before we go into the pros and cons of using RFID technology in your event passes, let’s take a look at what RFID is and how it’s used.


Security guard using RFID technology to manage an event

A New Use for Old Technology: What Is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification – in other words, radio waves.  In the case of wearable technology such as an access pass, the RFID chip is attached to an antenna inside the badge.  This combination of chip and antenna is called a transponder. The transponder allows an RFID reader to pick up the information on the chip and pass it onto a computer for verification. The beauty of this process is that it is quick, easy and reduces the risk of people attempting to gain access to areas that may be off limits.

RFID cards can also store other information too such as a person’s name, email and company. As an exhibitor, you can then scan their badge for all the information you need instead of having to worry about manually taking in information that you may not be able to read later. This can help make building your list and keeping in touch with prospects a painless process for anyone hosting a booth – especially at large events.

Contrary to what some people may believe RFID technology poses very little health risk. In fact, RFID uses radio frequency, a technology that has been around for a long time. Many of the devices you use on a daily basis such as your TV or radio also use this same technology.

Getting the VIP Treatment: Pros and Cons of RFID Passes

While RFID isn’t the only way to keep track of people at an event, it is one of the most versatile. Its robust nature allows for the storage of a wide variety of information that can benefit event planners, exhibitors and even guests – let’s take a look.

Pros of RFID Event Badges

Eliminates fraud. Not only does RFID allow you to identify the wearer of a badge enabled with the technology, but you can also track their exact location. This is a huge benefit when it comes to tracking down VIPs or important personnel, as well as responding to emergencies and maintaining security throughout your event.

Cuts Costs. Let’s face it – putting on a large scale event can get costly. You need staff to manage the flow of people and security to maintain the safety of your event and enhance the enjoyment of guests. Those costs often get passed down to your exhibitors and ultimately, your attendees. RFID enhanced badges can help you cut some of those costs by allowing you to reduce staff and increase productivity.

Saves time. People don’t go to events to spend hours waiting in line. They go to have fun, network and experience something new. RFID event badges can help exhibitors and staff cut down on queuing times and waiting so that your attendees can get the most bang for their buck.

Data collection. Security staff aren’t the only ones benefitting from data embedded into RFID cards, exhibitors can benefit too. Using an RFID reader can help exhibitors gather attendee’s contact information for email lists or in-booth contests. This eliminates errors, is helpful for those who may have forgotten a business card and can help save time.

Those are some pretty powerful benefits. So, what’s the downside to using RFID technology at your next event? We’ve identified two.

Cons of RFID Event Badges

Upfront Cost. Compared to other security tracking devices, RFID is still pretty costly. Most of the cost is tied up in the RFID reader and the antenna that you would attach to your booth in order to use the reader. Costs for these two items can range into the thousands of dollars depending on the strength of the system.

Design. RFID tags are much bulkier than their slimmer barcode sporting cousins and the readers and antennas are quite noticeable when it comes to booth design.

Despite these visible differences, RFID cards continue to outperform barcodes with their high reliability and resistance to tampering. For exhibitors and event planners that place a high priority on security and ease of use where cost isn’t an issue, RFID badges are a great choice!