RFID wristbands – the good, the bad and the ugly

One of the hot new things in the event planning industry is RFID wristbands.

RFID stands for radio frequency identification. The way this works is that they’ve got electronic chips (aso called tags) inside them that let you collect and track data. It is a technology that is often used in military operations and when tagging pets and animals.

More recently, they’ve popped up at music festivals all over the world, like Coachella and Primavera sound, where attendees get a wristband with a small chip which they can just scan to do things like pay for food or drink, get access to VIP areas, or even upload posts to social media.

Thanks to the comfort it provides to attendees and the benefits it offers to organisers, RFID technology is quickly becoming popular — and all the signs indicate that this trend is only going to blow up over the next few years. Disney and Burberry are just some of the brands that are already using it to do all sorts of fun stuff, with wristbands or not. You see, the chips are so small you can put them in almost anything, even T-shirts! Which a lot of luxury brands are doing.

As any event planner knows, it’s key to stay on top of the latest fads, but not every trend is the right fit for every event. That’s why we’re taking a look into RFID wristbands to decide whether they’re worth it — or not.

The Good

The main reason that companies are leaping on the RFID trend is because they let you collect a ton of data. They essentially let you see what people do, when and how long for. You can use this data later to sell, promote your brand further, find sponsors, and much more.

For an event, some things you can track with the technology include:

  • When attendees are coming in and leaving
  • When and how people move around the venue
  • Where you may need to put more resources
  • What products are being consumed
  • What types of interactions are taking place

So, there’s a whole of information here that an event planner can use to figure out what’s happening and improve their efforts in the future. You could also pinpoint who would be the most interested in being an advertiser or a sponsor, and where they should put their brand name.

There are a few other benefits to RFID that aren’t related to data collection. For instance, they’re harder to fake, replicate or resell, so if you have something like a concert that people are likely to sneak into, you can reduce those losses. If somebody’s wristband is stolen or lost, it can just be deactivated.

It also makes it simpler to let people in and out, so you don’t have to have a “one time in” policy. Plus, just swiping a wristband makes it really quick to get people in, and the data can help you manage the flow of where people are and reduce queues.

If you use the wristbands for payment at your event, people won’t need to fiddle with cash or cards. It can also be read at a distance, so it’s easier to use than a barcode scanner.

 

Plastic wristband with an RFID tag

Plastic wristband with an RFID tag

 

Some brands even use the wristbands for fun activities to get their event attendees involved in clever activation campaigns. Toyota did a fantastic one at the Jamboree in the Hills festival. Attendees could use the wristbands to check in at different checkpoints and earn points that they could redeem for prizes.

Other people have done things like treasure hunts or done a sort of photo booth. If attendees link their RFID wristbands to social media, a brand can snap a picture of them and scan their wristbands to upload the picture to their social media channels.

So, not only can these wristbands be super useful for the event organisers, they can also be used to create some really fun experiences for the attendees!

The Bad

Like a lot of new technology trends, if you don’t know how to use this one well, it can end up being an expensive mistake. If it’s your first time working with RFID technology, make sure to work with someone who knows what they’re doing. They’ll also be able to troubleshoot in case things go wrong. This isn’t something you want to throw in at the last minute (especially because if you want to collect data, you’ll need to be clear about what information you’re looking for).

What about cost? There is a higher startup cost involved when compared to your standard wristband, for sure. A lot of factors go into how much an RFID wristband costs (number ordered, which type you want, etc…), so it is difficult to give an estimate, but according to this website you might be looking at $3 for a single throwaway one and maybe $10 for a wristband that you might be able to use several times.

If you’re looking to experience the technology without going broke, then you might consider heading over to alibaba.com where they have lots of options at reasonable prices.

The Ugly

Two words: Privacy issues. Some people might get a bit of a Big Brother whiff about the whole thing, and there may be issues with how much information you have to disclose to people about what you’re doing with the data you collect. The main concern is about what the people on the other side of the spectrum use the information for. A wristband at a concert is hardly anything to worry about, as the most compromising secret it can reveal is how many beers you really drank – but how about chips in passports? Or credit cards?

Need T-shirts for an event? It doesn’t matter if it’s 15 or 15,000 garments. Printsome can handle it. Our delivery services work all over the UK ?? and can adapt to most deadlines. Visit our website to find out more.

As time goes on, technology gets more advanced, but users seem to be asked to choose convenience over privacy. The following article from Tech World elaborates on the point more eloquently by taking a look at the latest retail technology launched by Amazon.

So – are RFID Wristbands Worth It?

Yes! Although there are a few downsides to RFID wristbands, overall this is a really cool trend that offers endless opportunities to improve your event and to make it fun for goers.

While they won’t work for every single type of occasion, there are lots of cases in which they can be really useful tools. They’ve already made a huge difference to the world of concerts and music festivals, and we think you’ll be seeing RFID technology at a much wider range of places in the near future.

If you’re considering using them, think carefully if the cost of the technology is worth what you think you’ll get out of it. For a small-scale event, it may not be. You should also think about what sort of data you’ll want to collect, what you’ll do with it and so on.

Still, overall we at Printsome are giving this trend a thumbs-up.


T-shirt Printing for Events

Thanks to our five years of experience in the apparel-printing industry, we were able to design a platform catered towards the needs of event planners and brand managers who need efficient solutions. Printsome’s T-shirts are produced locally and from the best-quality garments.

From the moment you get in touch with us, you’ll receive the Printsome treatment. One of our printing experts will answer your questions and keep you informed each step of the way. Our delivery services work all over the UK and can adapt to most deadlines. It doesn’t matter if it’s 15 or 15,000 T-shirts. Printing garments has never been this easy.

Why worry about inventory or logistics when we can take care of that? We deal with the boring stuff so you have more time to do everything else. To find out more, simply visit our website by clicking on the banner below.

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  1. The great news now is that single day RFID wristbands can be supplied for as little as $1 each, with multi-day bands just a little more more. It is becoming much more affordable, which is stimulating enquiries and growth in RFID systems – certainly here in Australia.

    1. Hi Stuart,

      Yes, it is true. RFID technology is becoming each time more inexpensive. Thanks for the comment!

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