Mobile World Congress, which was held Feb. 25–28 in Barcelona, Spain launched a major new near field communications (NFC) initiative. It is one of the most robust uses of this short-range wireless communication technology I have seen by a show organizer.
MWC is the world's largest event for the mobile industry so it is a great leading indicator of where mobile is going in the exhibition and events industry—one of the reasons I closely follow this event.
At this year's show, as part of the new "NFC Experience", attendees, exhibitors and vendors with NFC-enabled handsets were able to access information and conduct transactions simply by "tapping" NFC touch points at the venue and at locations around Barcelona.
The "NFC Experience" offered several features, including the opportunity for participants at the show to:
What is also interesting to note is that in their post show press release they shared a key data point on usage: 10,500 attendees participated in the "NFC Experience".
We are still very early in the NFC story. Penetration of NFC handsets is very low. As such, benefits will be limited here until scale is achieved but this will come as more and more manufacturers release NFC-enabled handsets. When critical mass is reached, the opportunities here will be significant for event marketers.
Cristopher Levy is managing partner of Encore Media Partners. Encore is an audience strategy, marketing and media buying agency covering traditional, digital and mobile platforms, which specializes in local, national and global trade and consumer shows, exhibitions and conferences. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.