Getting to Know You: Data Collection

by Jean Heis, CMP,  Director, Meetings and Exhibits, Institute of Food Technologists

Samsung, my smart home and Pokémon Go know a lot about me. So does Google,, Mariano’s and iPass. They’ve gathered data on me and my behaviors for several years and I have no issue with it. I understand my behaviors tell a lot about me, and I appreciate the intelligence gathered on me allows the collector to form a profile specific to me. I like that suggests new books based on the books I’ve read and that Mariano’s gives me coupons I’ll actually use.

The Exhibits and Events industry has employed the use of several data collection methods (lead retrieval, session scanners, RFID, mobile apps) over the years however, the data set is limited and in some cases, accuracy has been a hindrance. This is why I feel Experient’s new eventBit™ technology is truly transformative. 

Behavioral Data

I am fortunate to be a part of forward-thinking organization who recognizes the value in early adoption of technology. Our Annual Event, IFT16 (July 2016), was the first full roll out of Experient’s eventBit. With the exception of staff and vendors, all registered attendee and exhibitor badges were paired with an eventBit, which tracked individual movement through the expo floor and sessions. This technology is passive – meaning the attendee does not need to download an app, or enable their smartphone’s Bluetooth. The eventBit itself is battery powered and is affixed to the back of the attendee or exhibitor’s badge. The eventBit and badge are paired at badge pick-up. On the expo floor, data is collected via hubs or lead retrieval units. In sessions, hubs are located inside meeting rooms.

Exhibitor Value

Use of the eventBit technology enabled us to eliminate guess work relating to traffic and validate some of our assumptions. It also helped us drive conversations with some of our bigger exhibitors who were unsure about their ROI and continued support of the expo. With accurate tracking, we were able to provide metrics to show value. Some of most surprising outcomes we found were attendee dwell time in booths (much longer than expected) and booth visits vs. leads collected (some exhibitors clearly qualified leads, while others didn’t). Eventually, we plan to analyze the data to identify expo floor hotspots and make decisions for the following year on booth pricing and position.

Organization Value

In addition to offering the technology to Exhibitors, IFT used eventBit to track sessions, and it proved tremendously accurate. It will take the place of session scanning and enable us to see which sessions had the longest dwell times, and therefore, the most engaging presenters. In addition to session tracking, eventBit will allow us to analyze which aspects of the meeting could be eliminated, and which could possibly be considered for expansion. Our Marketing department will leverage the data to personalize marketing messages based on session and exhibitor preferences – while the Education department will consider developing year-round content based on best attended sessions. Membership will be able to identify potential new member segments and Sales can use the metrics to help sell sponsorships.

Overall, we heard very few ‘big brother’ comments and attendees and exhibitors appreciated our transparency. I believe in general many people feel as I do – data collection will allow me to have a customized experience – it cuts down on the noise and filters out what is important to me specifically. And if my professional association collects data on me for the purpose of better understanding who I am, I will appreciate their efforts and investment in me as a member. 

Are you interested in submitting a blog? Submissions can be sent to IAEE MWC Chapter Coordinator, Elizabeth Haley at [email protected].