What is the Deal with All These Codes on My Badge?

EventRebels QR CodeThere has been a lot of talk in the last few years about using various codes on attendee badges to expedite the exchange of information between attendees, exhibitors, or both. These “codes” take the form of some image that has no meaning to a person but are meant to be read by a device (“machine readable.”) These codes not only differ visually, but they also function in quite different ways. Here is a break-down of the most popular codes used on badges at meetings and events.

  • A 1D Bar Code (i.e. One Dimensional) is a simple code typically representing a number. The ubiquitous UPC bar code is this kind of bar code. For trade shows and conferences the 1D bar code is usually a number representing the ID of a particular registrant. The most common application of this is in the rental of lead retrieval equipment to exhibitors who can then scan the bar code on an attendee’s badge to note that they have met with the attendee. 1D bar codes are simple and so are relatively easy to scan. However, since they code only represents the attendee ID, there is a step that needs to be done after the show that matches all the ID numbers to the attendee’s actual contact information. Consequently this results in a little bit of extra post-meeting work. If you have simple needs, like verifying attendance, this post show work may not be necessary and so the 1D Bar Code may be the perfect solution. In all cases, though, you or the exhibitor will need to rent equipment.

  • The 2D Bar Code (Two Dimensional) gets its name from the codes’ ability to actually contain a bunch of information. For meetings, this is typically the contact information of the attendee. When used with lead retrieval, this allows the exhibitor instant access to the user’s information. Good lead retrieval equipment (also rented by the exhibitor) will allow extra functions to be performed with the data, such as taking notes by the exhibitor of a conversation with an attendee. Since all the information is available immediately, the post meeting work that is involved in 1D Bar Codes is eliminated. The one issue with the 2D Bar Code is the scanning process is a little bit more sensitive. You need to pay attention to your print media when creating badges with these codes. For example, an inkjet printer may not produce an adequate bar code image, though a laser printer may suffice. Since 2D Bar Codes have more data, they also sometimes take a little more effort to scan.

  • QR Codes work very differently from 1D or 2D Bar Codes. First of all, if you create the QR Codes properly, they not only can be scanned very easily, but they will work with any QR code software that can be downloaded to your smart phone. Also, the standard usage of a QR Code is not to provide information but lead the user to a web site. The main issue with QR Codes in terms of use on a badge is that if you use the same code on each badge, then it will lead to the same web site every time it is scanned. This may be great if you want to highlight a sponsor’s web site. However, if you wish to get the most of QR Codes, you may want to use software like ERConnect that can be used to increase networking between attendees. The link on the QR Code for each badge leads to a profile of the attendee including contact information and even social media links like LinkedIn and Twitter. Since QR Codes work with smart phones, no equipment rental is necessary, reducing the amount of shipping and support staff needed.

Picking the right code for your meeting can be a big step in improving the meeting ROI of your attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. Contact us if you want to find out more about how to use these codes.