As exhibitors seek more innovative solutions, RFID, or radio-frequency identification technology is becoming a larger part of the trade show marketing conversation. Although RFID technology has had a presence at trade shows and in trade show exhibits for at least a decade, lately, our 3D Exhibits team has seen the technology really take off. This is because exhibitors are becoming more creative with how they employ RFID technology in their booths, and because RFID hardware costs have decreased considerably, making the technology much more affordable to implement.

RFID technology has multiple applications, but the two most common ways we see it used at trade shows and events are to customize the attendee journey and to track attendee activity. In this article, we will focus solely on the tracking function.

Here are answers to the questions about RFID tracking in trade show booths that our 3D Exhibits in-house technology team hears most often:

What exactly is RFID technology?

RFID is a technology that encodes data into tags that are communicated through radio waves and captured by a reader. These tags can be embedded into many a wide variety of objects including bracelets, plastic cards, stickers, and more.

How does RFID tracking work in a trade show environment?

The first step in RFID tracking is to collect information from the attendee. The most effective and efficient way to do this is through a lead retrieval system. Through the lead retrieval system, your reps can easily scan attendees' badges to collect their contact information. Then, a simple sync will add that attendee's information to a unique RFID tag—usually contained in a badge or bracelet. So long as the attendee continues to wear or carry the object with the tag, the attendee's activity in the booth will be tracked and uploaded automatically.

What is the value of RFID tracking?

Deploying RFID tracking in your exhibit will allow you to collect valuable data about the way attendees spend time in your space—data you can use to make informed decisions about how to improve your exhibit's performance at future shows. Some examples of this include:

Data collected: Which area in your exhibit was the most popular, and which was the least?
How can this information be used:
If the least popular area in your space was a certain product or line of products, you may consider not bringing that product(s) to shows in the future—or, if it's a product that is important to your company, you many look at creating a more dynamic display for it. If the least popular area was a demo or presentation, you may want to work on training your staff to engage better in order to draw more people in.

Data collected: Did attendees return to your exhibit (either later the same day or on a subsequent day)?
How can this information be used:
If attendees did not return to your space, and this was a goal of yours for the show, consider implementing some sort of incentive that will bring people back to your space. If attendees did return to your space, you can analyze which areas they visited to identify which products were drawing the most interest or which engagement drew the most attention.

Data collected: Where did each specific attendee spend their time?
How can this information be used:
By knowing where each attendee spent their time, you can identify what products interested them and then use this information to tailor and target your follow-up efforts.

The value of RFID tracking can be maximized further by implementing surveys. By simply adding a couple of custom questions to your lead retrieval process at the start of the attendee journey, and then asking attendees a few more questions as they leave your exhibit after their experience, you'll be able to gain insight into your attendees' perceptions and how they were affected by your exhibit experience.

On their own, survey questions posed to booth visitors both before and after their visit can reveal changes in attendees' intent to purchase, knowledge about your brand and product, and overall impressions of your exhibit and exhibit activities.

Ideally, the best practice is to use the data you gather from RFID tracking and your survey data together to gain more detailed insights about your exhibit. For example, if an attendee's intent to purchase your product increased between when they entered your exhibit and the time they left, the RFID data will show you which demos or activities the attendee participated in that may have caused this positive increase. On the other hand, if an attendee's intent to purchase decreased or remained the same, your data will help you pinpoint the areas where they spent the most time that might not have been as effective or relevant as you hoped.

Curious to explore how RFID tracking can benefit your program? We're happy to help. Contact us at to learn more!