We’ve talked to hundreds of people reviewing lead retrieval systems and there are a number of questions that come up continually from buyers who have been through systems that have caused them headaches or cost an order of magnitude more than what can be done with the latest technology. If you’re shopping around here’s some of the things you should be asking about:
How do I upload the data into the system?
Part of getting started is having an easy path to upload the data but this misses a bigger point – it’s much better if the system has integrations with the most popular registration systems such as Eventbrite, Active (RegOnline), Eventgrid, and others (EventHero integrates with over a dozen popular registration systems). It’s a whole lot easier to cut and paste an API key and have your data flow into the lead retrieval system and automatically add new attendees as they come in as opposed to uploading spreadsheets manually.
Regardless of how it gets in there, once it is, the data should be easily exportable so that if you are having a printing company create your badges you want it to be self service so that you can get your files when you need them (or if you are new to badge printing, make sure the company’s services group can help you generate badge files.
How Can I Test the System Prior to My Event?
A recurring theme you’ll see here is that you want a lead retrieval system that is App Based. You should be able to download the scanner to your phone so you can print badges yourself, or test proofs from your printer with the App that will be used on site. If the system requires you to use a device that’s being rented to you there’s no way to reliably test it unless you are mailed one of the devices.
Can You Support Pre-Printing and On Demand Badge Generation?
For many events it might be the most efficient to pre-print badges, and then order blanks that can have a label affixed to them so they look just like the pre-printed badges. This is the way to get the best looking badge at the best price.
You can go fully on-demand but keep in mind that unless you are ok with black and white badges, or you don’t mind pre-printing and ordering color badge stock you’re talking about an exponential increase in price.
For example – EventHero has events around the 10,000 registrants mark than use Brother Labels as nametags. These are black and white stickers and are incredibly cost effective: you can get down to 5 cents a badge. If you are ok pre-printing color badge stock you can do on demand badge printing and still get under the $5,000 price point. To go fully on demand you’ll be looking at commercial badge printers that start to get into the 5 figure range, and of course now these will require onsite support to setup, test and maintain the printers during the event. The most common misconception we see are people that think they can do fully on-demand color badge printing (no pre-printed badge stock, no wasted paper) for events less than 5,000 attendees or for less than $10,000.
Is On-Site Support Staff Required?
Any time there’s a person on site the price will go up considerably. EventHero does not require one of our staff to be on site (over 90% of our customers are self service) and that’s why our pricing can start at $499. Don’t believe any of the voodoo economics, if someone has to get on a plane to your event that’s going to add at least $2,000 to your price tag.
Will You Send Me The Files I Need For Last Minute Badge Printing?
Better solutions should have this as a self-service option. You should be trained to generate these on demand as you need them, they system intelligently generates a file for you including only the added and changed records since the last file run.
Will I Be Able to Print Them On My *whatever* Printer?
A better system will support Avery badge templates which are easily available and can be run through nearly all printers (anything you can pick up at the local big box store or from Amazon).
What Do I Do For a Walk-in Registration in Order To Get A QR Code?
This should be optimized for speed at the registration desk. On the attendee screen, there’s an “Add Attendee” button. Click, fill in the data, click create, then click download label to generate the label for the Brother printer. This process should not take more than 90 seconds on any system that’s legitimate.
Do We Get Unlimited Team Based Scanning?
Exhibitors should pay one rate for unlimited access to the scanning app – that is, everyone working the booth should be able to download the app to their own phone and scan as much as they want. In fact, people from the home office should be able to download the app and see how the show is going if they want to monitor, or even handle follow-up for the booth staff.
You should not be renting any devices or scanning dongles, everyone has a supercomputer phone in their pocket, anything more than downloading an app is adding to your price tag. Everyone should be able to download it, if you have to pay per download of the app that means the person that does is not going to want to share their phone so now you are going to pay for more than one, or the staff is going to want to rent devices.
One price, everyone gets to download, everyone gets to scan.
If Exhibitors Suggest That A Code Can’t Be Scanned, What Do I Do?
There are two parts to this problem – one is that if you are not using an App based system (exhibitors have to use a rented device) then you’re going to need on-site support reps. This should ring an alarm bell that you are paying too much. If you are renting devices, you can have problems with them so that would be handled by on-site support.
Better systems are App based and don’t require any on-site support. This way there’s a central support team available via email and phone that are fully staffed and in direct contact with product engineers and the IT team to get questions answered immediately (ever had to chase down the lead retrieval guy on day 2 of your show when they are on a smoke break? The smoke is the smell of your money burning up).
You should not have to deal with any of this, if exhibitors have problems you give them the email they contact for support and they are helped immediately, you go back to running your event.
Are There Any Other Costs For Last Minute Badges?
A good lead retrieval plan is in place 30 days prior to the event and fully tested 15 business days prior to the event. If you are inside this window expect late charges getting badges printed and rush shipping charges. This is where true event planners save money – they get a project plan with all the milestones so that they avoid extra charges for Brother label customizations or assistance with file management that could have been done self-service or 30 days prior to the event.
How Do Exhibitors Get Onboarded? What Is There Experience Like?
This is critical – there are many services that offer “Badge Scanning”. Badge scanning is not lead retrieval. You should have the ability to invite exhibitors and they should get full instructions on how to download the app and access their leads online 24/7. They should not be able to see what other companies have scanned, they should not see the entire attendee list, they should be able to add notes that will all be compiled into the final file that is free of duplicates. Be sure to test the product as an exhibitor so you can be sure that you’re not getting badge scanning passed off as lead retreival.
What Am I Missing? What Are Common Pitfalls?
Any proposal should have clear milestones for your success. The short version of them is to have your badge design and process worked out 30 days prior to the event, and have badges tested 15 days prior. The only things you have to gain by waiting closer to your event are additional shipping and rush charges.