QR Codes Are Out. Poken Is In.

July 14, 2013

Poken is a networking, lead capture and content distribution system that’s easy to use, doesn’t require Wi-Fi and it’s fun. Take that, QR codes.

Poken uses near field communication (NFC), which is embedded into the device called a Poken. That device is about the size of your average USB drive. As a matter of fact, some of the Pokens look very much like a USB drive. Others display quirky caps depicting pandas, aliens, tigers, vampires and more.

Custom caps can also be ordered which is the option used at the European Liver Congress. Poken created a collection of medical figurines for their attendees.

The American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) has been using Poken for a couple years now. Jenn Lyles, communications coordinator, AACS, said they were originally looking for a device that would allow attendees to collect session materials. There were good options out there for that function, but they were missing the networking piece.

“Poken is an icebreaker. The No. 1 reason people attend our events is for our sessions. The second reason is to network with people like themselves. But it’s hard to get people to break the ice when networking. From the first time we used Poken, we saw everything transform. They (attendees) were walking up to complete strangers to see what their tag was like. They were exchanging digital information,” Lyles said.

Stored on each attendee’s Poken is their contact information, including a picture of each attendee, so it’s easy to remember whom you spoke to once the conference is over.

Poken is more than just a fun networking spark. Once AACS had attendees hooked on the networking function of Poken at the opening reception; the next day, event organizers got on stage and explained to them how attendees could use their devices to collect session PowerPoint presentations. They told the attendees not to worry about taking notes during the presentations; they would have access to the slides after the session via their Poken. They wanted attendees to sit back and focus on the speaker and listen.

“Speakers tell us what a help Poken has been to them. People are now listening and paying attention to what they are saying,” Lyles said.

Poken also incorporates lead generation for exhibitors. AACS had not offered lead retrieval system at the show previously. With the addition of Poken, exhibitors could, for the first time, really track who came by their booth.

Lyles said, “the first year the exhibitors didn’t really get it, so we started holding webinars led by Poken representatives to teach exhibitors how to use it. Then we started seeing exhibitors coming with their own signage.”

That signage included PokenTAGs, a smart tag that can connect to video, pictures, presentations, brochures, coupons and just about any other digital data available for collection. You are not reliant on wireless Internet connections, mobile networks or complicated infrastructure to make digital content available. The attendee simply touches their Poken to the tag, and they’ve collected that content. If you have attendees who are too stuffy to use the Poken device, they can also use their NFC phone.

The fact that Poken does not require Wi-Fi is an important feature. Stephane Doutriaux, Poken’s founder, told me they’ve had clients implement this solution in the middle of the Moroccan desert, on a safari in South Africa and on cruise ships.

PokenTAGs also can be used to create interactive competitions, and motivate participants to take specific actions in alignment with your event objectives. Event organizers can also collect valuable information through the use of surveys or voting. If you want to know what destination for future events would be most popular, create a sign with potential host cities. Each city having a corresponding PokenTAG and let attendees vote for their favorite with their Poken device.

Do not underestimate the fun factor of Poken. While it serves as a solution to a wide variety of show activities, it’s only effective if the attendees are using it. Lyles said AACS surveys attendees after every event, and they are seeing a 90-100 percent participation rate every time.

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