What are the options for capturing visitor information, and what barriers exist?

There are now a great many technical options available for capturing visitor information electronically. Visitors can register either online or on site and, in addition, their ID carrier can be used as an electronic business card. But not everything that is technically possible necessarily makes sense or is allowed: everything has to be done in a spirit of partnership, and all legal requirements have to be met.  

Photo: Florian Hess
Photo: Florian Hess

Expert: Florian Hess
Managing Director 
Hess Consulting 

Online registration 

Visitors can register online for a trade fair in advance from the comfort of their home or their office desk. They enter their address details and any qualifying information such as the industry in which they work or the position they hold in their company. In return, they receive personalised access authorisation with a unique ID. They can then download and print an e-ticket, just as they can when booking a flight or rail journey online. Alternatively, registered visitors can make their way to the fair with a paperless ticket on their mobile phone.   

On-site registration 

Data on visitors can also be captured at the entrance to the trade fair in order to obtain information that qualifies them as professional visitors. The data collected can be transferred to a structured database. Once visitors are registered, they can be issued with their personalised access authorisation materials and a corresponding ID. These include admission tickets, badges, lanyards or wristbands. These personalised access authorisation materials are used in two ways: to check they are entitled to admission at the gate and/or as an electronic business card, given that their IDs are linked to the information held about them.   

Entrance control at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. (Photo: Alex Schelbert.de / Spielwarenmesse)
Entrance control at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. (Photo: Alex Schelbert.de / Spielwarenmesse)

Transponder cards and smartphones

Contactless chip cards (transponder cards) and visitors’ own smartphones are increasingly being used. These work on the basis of wireless communication technology: users identify themselves at a terminal at the initial contact point, which is normally at the entrance to the trade fair centre. For example, they may hold their smartphone up to a screen and then be asked to enter their email address – via which they can be provided with information (if they wish). Transponder cards and smartphones can also be used at various other points at the trade fair: for example, at exhibitors’ stands or special areas or for prize draws. Not until visitors actively identify themselves at such points do they become “visible” to the exhibitor, who then learns who it is that wants to make contact. In addition, visitors can request additional information from exhibitors at their leisure after the trade fair by, for example, logging in to the event’s website with their email address and then adding to their visitor profile by entering further information. 

Acceptance/data protection 

In B2B communication, it can generally be assumed that business people want to make contact with each other – and that the exchange of additional qualifying information facilitates more interesting, more efficient communication for both parties. A fundamental prerequisite that has to be in place to ensure that electronic visitor registration gains wide acceptance is a simple, fairly implemented opt-out procedure. All involved should, of course, respect the rules of the game. In other words, if somebody no longer wants to have any contact, this has to be respected. B2C communication with visitors who are members of the general public is different. Due to tighter consumer legislation, the barriers are significantly higher in this case, and a rigorously implemented confirmed or double opt-in procedure is advisable.   


Together with Brussels company Zetes FasTrace and Düsseldorf-based tauth.com, Hess Consulting offers the modular system Viscon – for electronic visitor registration, e-ticketing and mobile access control. Hess Consulting handles international e-ticketing and access control at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg.

This article was published in TFI issue 1/2014


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