Using Location-Based Marketing Tools? Time To Update Meetings Policy

I just read a fascinating and slightly scary article by Michael J. Shapiro, the tech beat reporter at Meetings & Conventions magazine. Michael writes about so-called location-based marketing tools that can pinpoint the location of attendees, say, in a cavernous convention trade show and then market services to them.

Target Marketing

What a wonderful technology. Yes, we’ve had radio frequency identification (RFID) badges for quite some time now – you know, those badges that emit beeps when, drink in hand at a networking event, you get closer to someone you might share a title with or job description. But these geo-social apps give suppliers the opportunity to see where you are in the convention hall and send you an invite to come on by the booth or some important marketing material.  

Have you experienced this technology before?  I have and what people don’t realize is how something so user friendly can turn into a privacy nightmare.  Let me share with you an interesting example from my own experience.  I was attending a conference that used a RFID device for all attendees and marveled how wonderful and easy it was to locate, identify and meet with people using the device.  You could take notes on it, pull up session info, speaker info, schedule appointments, etc.  One evening, after a long hard day, I was relaxing in my room when the device went off and it notified me that two people on my list of people I’d like to meet were in close proximity, like the next room!  That’s when the power of these convenient technology devices hit me – this was information I really didn’t want to know and I’m pretty sure the parties in the next room didn’t want other people to know!

I’ve said in the past that social media and technology is a great way to bring buyers and suppliers even closer in the meetings ecosystem. The rewards are closer relationships and perhaps even greater buying opportunities for planners and stronger sales for suppliers. 

But like all things new, this needs some strategic thinking on the part of meeting managers. There’s a thorny question attached to this: Will some of your attendees consider this a violation of their right to privacy? Well, as far as I understand the technology, attendees have the right to opt out of receiving texts and other media messages. So, that takes care of that.
Nevertheless, meeting managers planning to take part in location-based marketing still need to update their meeting policy to explain why the corporation is using it and how it fits with company goals and philosophies.
Something to think about!
Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.