Quick and economic graphic design services get more fans in your seats

Minor design tweaks lead to major results

Minor league sports are all about creativity. It’s hard to be stodgy when your graphic design teams get to work with mascots like the RockHounds, Iron Pigs and RubberDucks.

There’s also the matter of necessity. Minor league teams don’t have the money or star power of top-tier teams. Even when they do have a talented player as their draw, they can’t build much around him: the nature of the business means that he’ll be called up before too long, sometimes on a day’s notice.

Small market teams, minor league teams and colleges outside of the Power Five need their brand to stand on its own. A season of success on the field will only take them so far. Teams outside the big leagues thrive because of what they do and what they represent off the field. Basic elements like logos, colors and marketing collateral must be instantly recognizable and in touch with their community (fun fact: the RockHounds, Iron Pigs and RubberDucks have nothing to do with dogs, swine or water fowl, respectively).

Quick and economic design services to get more fans into your seats

Minor league teams put in the work to look this chill

Small market teams have been threading a difficult needle for the last decade: they’ve embraced the kitsch, and even the occasional gimmick, but they have to do it in a way that doesn’t come off as amateur. They have to take their job seriously enough to look like they don’t take themselves very seriously.

When it comes to graphic design, this means smartly executed brands and collateral built around the fun laid-back name and logo. Digital and print graphics have to project a free-wheeling brand across all platforms, being consistent without coming off as corporate.

At the same time, they need to have just enough corporate appeal to satisfy the parent clubs, trustees, board members or other overseers. Teams can satisfy this need through the quality and professionalism of the work, and by staying up to date on what the big players are doing that can scale down to the farm teams.

Small market teams rely heavily on physical marketing assets

Because minor league teams draw their fan base exclusively from the local area, they have to saturate their communities with their presence. Billboards, in-store displays, year-round community-facing events and sponsor tie-ins are important for any sports team, but are crucial for local markets because they create immediate touch points.

It’s a good add-on for a major league team to have a booth at the city’s half-marathon expo or “taste of” weekend. A minor league team, on the other hand, could generate a noticeable spike in engagement and ticket sales by having staff and players wearing event-specific t-shirts at those events while handing out promo cards and taking selfies with fans.

Every aspect of that interaction – the visuals at the booth, the t-shirts the team personnel are wearing, the promo cards, the social media filters – need to be integrated and, better yet, customized for the event. Teams can’t afford to have one all-purpose t-shirt or promo card – people will quickly stop noticing them. Worse, they may look like they are phoning it in. The physical assets should reflect whatever external event (the race expo, corporate wellness fair, etc) they are supporting. This maintains attention, and adds value to the partnership for both sides.

Packaging the gulls

Integrated graphic design and production services for minor league teams

WW&L provides full service graphic design and production. From logo creation or rebranding to producing digital artwork and physical collateral – from souvenir tickets and flyers to NFT-backed collectibles and NFC-enabled packaging – WW&L can handle any marketing design project.

By doing everything in-house, WW&L keeps the process efficient and costs low. Our graphic designers can provide 1-2 day turnaround on most requests, and they work alongside the production team so there’s never a delay caused by a mismatch or misunderstanding of requirements. We can also work with you on your marketing strategy, recommending the best design concepts, assets and distribution methods for your needs.

Even with these capabilities, we are still a small shop in a small town (Ft. Smith, baby!). We understand the unique situation of small market and minor league teams. In our 100+ years, we’ve seen six minor league baseball teams come and go – a few were even before our time. We’d like to have one come back (any takers?). But until then, we want to make your team, our team.

Drop us a line today to see how our graphic design services can help you put fans in the seats.

Oh, and if you’ve made it this far and are still wondering: a RockHound is a geologist, which makes sense for the oil fields of Midland, TX. Lehigh Valley (PA) was a center of the steel industry, which used a lot of – wait for it – pig iron. And Akron, OH, is the home of Goodyear, so, obviously, RubberDucks.

Park Your Thoughts Podcast: Episode 3 Jeri Baker, Director of Parking and Transportation at Virginia Tech

Join Philip Warren and Laura Skulman as they interview Director of Parking and Transportation at Virginia Tech, Jeri Baker. Jeri discusses the importance of the transportation marketing program at Virginia Tech and the campus’ newest project, the Blacksburg Transit Multi-Modal Transit Facility.

Park Your thoughts podcast parking podcast featuring director of parking and transportation at Virginia Tech, Jeri Baker

Creating an unboxing experience worthy of your brand

The unboxing experience is the sort of thing you may never notice, until that one time when you do, and then you can never not notice it again.

Brands built around impeccable customer service do a lot of things they really don’t need to do. What sets apart the greats is that they believe they do, in fact, need to do those things. The extra “thank you,” the commitment to always finding a customer-pleasing solution, the “never say no” attitude seem gratuitous to those on the outside but are essential to those on the inside.

The unboxing experience is an e-commerce extension of those values. Brands that would never allow an in-store customer to have a single substandard moment are not willing to let their customers have one at home.

Blog about how to create an unboxing experience worthy of your brand with custom personalized packaging

Bring the brand experience into the customer’s house

Delivery times will be soon be measured in hours, not days. But there will always be a lag between when you place an order and when you receive whatever it is. Brick-and-mortar stores don’t have this downtime. Product selection and delivery takes place within the physical brand experience. That creates a continuity in the customer experience that e-commerce does not have.

An e-commerce brand’s packaging reconnects the customer to the brand at a key moment: when they get the thing they paid for! The logo, the colors, the physical design and whatever little touches the sender adds to the packaging all bring the brand back to the customer in the way that a generic brown box cannot. They’re reminded of the brand as they hold the product for the first time.

Creative packaging gives you one more way to be you

More than just the printed elements, the unboxing experience includes the physical design of the packaging. This opens up new possibilities to show your company’s creativity and personality.

If you company is known for sparse, modernist and streamlined designs (think Apple), the packaging should be the same. The customer should be able to take the product from the box and into their hands in as few movements as possible; and those movements should be simple and smooth, sliding and gliding rather than flipping, popping and hinging.

On the other hand, if your company has more of an old-school geek / maker vibe, maybe you want that extra level of complexity. The unboxing should feel like stepping through a fun puzzle. Surprise, excitement and discovery more your thing? Then throw in some random goodies: a gift card, company-branded swag, a sample of something that complements the customer’s purchase.

Does your company sponsor a sports team or non-profit? The tie-in activation pretty much writes itself.

Personalized packaging for unboxing experiences the Catalina Wine Mixer

What are the basic elements of a customer-pleasing unboxing experience?

Let’s go from the outside and work our way in. You may be able to get creative with the actual shipping box, but there are some important limitations. First, despite your commitment to a great unboxing experience, there’s still the economics. Your warehousing and shipping contracts may require you to use standard-size, brown, plain corrugated cardboard boxes. Switching up the type or size of the box could affect your pricing, and therefore your business model. The other issue is security: if your brand is recognized and coveted by customers, it is to porch pirates, too. It may be worth the anonymity of old school outer packaging to make yourself a “hard target.”

Once the customer opens the outer box, the first thing they will probably see is the spacer or protective packaging materials. Unless you’re sending someone fish ‘n’ chips (and if that’s the case, we have  questions), you can do better than crumpled up newspapers.

An easy option is to order tissue paper in your brand colors or with your logo. Another possibility, depending on the product, is to use structural cardboard shapes to create a platform in the box and secure the item to the platform with a clear plastic wrap or zip ties. It eliminates the need for both an internal box and packing materials. This is a popular option for shipping laptops and tablets, so much so that UPS offers a laptop box. The platform option lets people open the box and immediately see their purchase; and it is more environmentally friendly since it requires less material and leaves the customer with a lot less waste.

If you do have your own box within the outer box, this is where you can be creative with the aesthetics and design. Customers should know intuitively how and where to open the box: if you need to write “This End Up” non-ironically, there’s a problem. Once they open the box and have the product in their sight, how do they take hold of it? Does it fall into their hands, slide onto their table, seemingly lift into their grasp? And is there anything under it, perhaps a message, a personalized card, or just a pleasantly on-brand picture?

How to create an unboxing experience worthy of your products

The unboxing experience turns packaging from something generic and functional into something unique and useful. Like everything else in the customer experience, it needs to be about the customer: satisfying them, improving their mood, helping them feel more connected to your brand.

If you’re not sure where to start, WW&L has been making the mundane and practical exciting and personal for over 100 years.

Our design team will work with you to develop your unboxing concept and produce the packaging materials you need to carry your brand from your store to your customers’ hands. E-mail or call us today to get started.

Packaging Ravens

Can tickets and access credentials finally make QR codes popular?

Can tickets and access credentials finally make QR codes popular? View our blog to find out

QR codes are everywhere. That should be a digital marketer’s dream, except for one little problem: we’ve all learned to ignore them. They’re everywhere, yet no one even notices them anymore… let alone pay attention to them… let alone hold up the phone to see what lies on the other side of the black and white squares.

The technology behind QR codes hasn’t changed much since they were developed in 1994. Yeah, you read that right. QR codes were 13 years old when the first iPhone was released. In the 14 years of the smartphone era, QR codes have become part of the background on packaging or printed items like tickets – less useful and somehow less attractive than a barcode.

The challenge for marketers is finding ways to draw customers’ eyes and phones to the QR code.

Give customers a QR code worth scanning

Repeat engagement starts with a single click. Now how do we get that click?

Some brands are making their QR codes more attractive by incorporating logos, words or colors into the pattern. Sports teams can take advantage of this very easily, since they already have highly recognizable marks that fans are used to interacting with.

A prominent, specific call-to-action – one that tells customers what’s in it for them if they snap the QR code – is one way to go from noticing to acting. “Scan here for see what seats are available at this weekend’s game!” “Free parking at tonight’s game by scanning the QR code below.”

Teams can place their branded QR codes in print advertisements, on their website, on tickets and in their sponsors’ locations. For example, many teams have a supermarket sponsor. Part of the activation can be displays around the store with QR codes that offer on-the-spot digital coupons. The value of the coupon could double if the customer scans the code with from their team app: this way you build favor with new markets and possibly increase downloads, and reward existing fans for their loyalty.

This could be a very low overhead sponsorship activation. A single QR code at the entrance or point of sale could be used indefinitely: the printed code is fixed, but the action it triggers can change every week or every hour. These are called “dynamic QR codes,” a somewhat misleading term because the QR code itself is static: the dynamic aspect is on the back end. This week, the QR codes in a supermarket could give customers 10% of their total purchase. Next week it could give them a complimentary ticket to a midweek game of their choice.

How to leverage smart credentials with a must-click QR code

QR codes and bar codes are almost interchangeable for mobile ticketing. But when placed on a physical ticket, QR codes have far more possibilities.

Wait, isn’t that going backwards a decade? Aren’t venues going fully mobile and paperless, from tickets to cash? Yes, but that trend is already rolling back a bit. It turns out that people like to have something in their hand, even if the real action is on their phone (refresher: NFTs good, NFTs validating a bobblehead better).

Teams are increasingly offering their fans souvenir tickets, and providing physical smart credentials to their season ticket holders. No one wants their credential on the end of a lanyard to be a just a status symbol – they want it to do something.

A QR code on a season-long reusable ticket is a way for the team and the fan to build a season-long engagement away from the game.

The team can update the back end of the dynamic QR code on a regular schedule to give season ticket holders reasons to click throughout the week. On game day, until 2 hours before the game, scanning the QR code will give the fan the most up-to-date information (perhaps including special video content) about the team and the lineup. Once doors open, the QR code becomes the ticket. After the QR code is scanned and the fan is in the arena, the QR code can offer promotions, highlights, an extra entry in the nightly drawing…. anything. In the days following the game, taking an occasional snap of the QR code can offer, well, as you’re now realizing, anything.

Dynamic QR codes become another stream in your customer relations or sales & marketing strategies. Alongside social media, email, phone calls and in-person touch points, QR codes give you another way of uniquely targeting your customer base. 

Every QR scan increases the chances of the next one

We’ve talked mostly about how sports teams can use QR codes for digital marketing, but the same ideas apply for museums, concert halls, universities, festivals and even companies that issue an access badge. Anything that can be scanned by your phone’s camera – from a credential to a screen – can become smarter, more generous and more interactive with a well-managed QR code on it.

And not only will your fans thank you for a non-intrusive way of doing more for them, the entire digital marketing industry will be grateful that your company helped get people in the habit of noticing and snapping QR codes.

Maybe a future QR code-enabled VIP pass will be the one around your neck as you take the stage as an inductee into the Digital Marketing Hall of Fame.

QR codes have been around a long time, but WW&L has been around even longer. For over 100 years, we’ve been leading the way on printing tickets, access badges, parking decals – anything that connects access to experience. Let us know how we can bring QR codes or any other form of tech – new or old – to your marketing efforts

Park Your Thoughts Episode 2: Josh Stone, VCU

Park Your Thoughts Parking Podcast Episode 2 featuring Josh Stone of VCU

How does a ski instructor break into the parking industry? What are the benefits of a CAPP certification, the leading credential in parking and mobility? Josh Stone, the director of parking and transportation at Virginia Commonwealth University, sits down with Philip Warren and Laura Skulman of Weldon, Williams & Lick to discuss all things campus parking in this episode.

NFT marketplaces have entered the chat.

It only took a few months for the multi-million dollar question in digital collectibles to go from “What is an NFT?” to “How can we create, sell and trade NFTs?”

Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are still in that early stage where the marketplaces assume a lot of know-how and have a look that only appeals to the CryptoKitty crowd. Sports properties want to talk like NFTs are ready to take over for trading cards and bobbleheads, but they are no more ready to mint and sell NFTs than fans are ready to buy, collect and trade them.

Staying true to a 120-year tradition, WW&L is making it easier for sports properties and live events to connect with their fans. In the early 1900s, it was rolls of custom-printed paper tickets. In 2021, it’s through white-label NFT marketplaces.

WW&L will work with you on the Four C’s of NFTs: concept, creation, collectability and circulation.

NFT marketplaces to extend your digital fan experiences

Sports and other live events have three main options for the NFT concepts: tickets, collectables and souvenirs. We already combine all three in the physical world with our souvenir tickets and NFC-linked printing. Now, we’re taking them onto the blockchain. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the tangibles behind. WW&L can mint NFTs that are linked to physical assets. Those trading cards and bobbleheads you’ve been giving out for years? Don’t break your vendor contract – you’ll still be handing them out at the door. Only this time, there will be a digital upgrade that you can manage to have recurring interactions with the owner or to gain a share of any follow-on sales. That’s right – NFTs can keep the originator in the resale market’s revenue stream.

Selling an NFT is one of the first steps in the experience, rather than one of the last. You can use the NFT to share exclusive content from the event or in advance of the next one. For example, people who own an NFT from last year’s festival could be the first to see the lineup for next year’s edition via exclusive video of the performers connecting to the NFT.

NFTs can be the vehicle for advance ticket purchase codes, the location of pop-up events or activating on your sponsorships. Organize a meet-and-greet for NFT holders at a sponsor’s pop-up shop. By using the NFTs, you control the access list, reward your most motivated fans and deepen the connection with the sponsor. Wins all around.

With WW&L’s NFT marketplace, you can mint and sell NFTs without anyone – not you, not your fans – having to worry about what a gas fee is or what layer of Ethereum we’re using (if you are interested, it’s polygon layer 2 Ethereum). As far as you and your fans are concerned, the NFT is just another way you’re offering an enhanced fan experience.

A normal looking marketplace, a standard way of purchasing, and then all the long-term, open-ended benefits of NFTs. WW&L is opening the NFT landscape to anyone who wants in. Call us today to start setting up your brand’s NFT marketplace.

RFID vs LPR Smart Parking Systems: Which is Better?

Parking lot operators have two main choices for automated, smart parking systems: RFID and license plate readers (LPR, but you may also see them referred to as ANPR).

We’ll lay our cards out up front: we’re an RFID company! so of course we’re going to come down on the side of RFID. If you already trust us, that’s great. If not, we think we can fairly lay out the pros and cons of RFID and LPR parking control systems, and let you decide which would work best for your needs.

How does RFID and LPR vehicle access work? (very briefly)

RFID access control systems work the same for cars as they do for individuals. The facility places an RFID reader at the access point and each user has a credential that communicates with the reader to grant access.

License plate readers are just what they sound like. A camera system is installed at the access point that “reads” the license plate, compares the result to a database of authorized vehicles and grants access accordingly.

RFID gate access for smart parking solution
RFID vs LPR Smart parking systems: which is better?

Accuracy shapes security and convenience of smart parking systems

Any access control system has to satisfy two major demands: security and convenience. Venues, buildings or parking lot managers have to strike a balance between the two, even as technology is steadily eliminating the trade-off and providing the necessary amount of both.

The accuracy of a smart parking system feeds into both factors. If a system is overly permissive, it will grant access to unauthorized personnel. If its errors tilt towards more caution, you’ll have angry customers or clients, and potentially a traffic jam at your access points. Think of it as a question of false positives vs. false negatives. Most systems will “fail negative,” because those create issues of customer experience and satisfaction rather than security, which carries greater risk and liability.

LPR systems are much less accurate than RFID systems. The most-cited studies report a 4% error rate. If a parking lot holds 500 cars, and you scan them on the way in and out, that’s potentially 40 annoyed customers every day.

However, most of the research into LPR accuracy comes from highway usage, such as toll cameras. Those cars can be travelling over 65 mph, which introduces a source of error. Cars entering or leaving a parking lot – even ones that do not have a gate – will be moving much more slowly, which reduces the error rate.

Another source of inaccuracy when outdoors is the environment. Heavy rain, snow, dense low fog or even the glare of the sun can obscure the camera’s view of the license plate.

This is not a concern for an indoor parking lot, and is less of a concern for an outdoor parking lot since the distance between the camera and the license plate is so much smaller. But the license plate can still be obscured by snow or mud, which would limit any LPR camera’s ability to read it. Your customers and tenants will not want to have to get out of their car and wipe off their license plate at the end of an already trying commute.

RFID systems are insensitive to weather or the distances we’re talking about. RFID tags or decals go on one of the car windows. If they are obscured by snow or dirt, well, the driver has other things to worry about.

RFID systems also have an internal error-check that LPR systems do not have.

License plate recognition uses visual recognition algorithms built on machine learning. They do not actually “recognize” the letters and numbers on a license plate. Visual recognition systems compute the relative probability that what they “see” is one of the shapes in their system. It’s as if the algorithm is saying: “There’s a 97% chance that’s a G, a 92% chance that’s a Q, an 81% chance that’s a C… a .05% that’s a 7. OK, we’re going with G!” for each character. These systems have no way of verifying their output. At best, they can have multiple independent cameras and algorithms, but even then, it just comes down to taking the highest ranked guess.

RFID control systems have a check code that verifies the quality of the data they receive from a sensor. They can determine whether they made a “good read” or a “bad read.” If it’s a bad read, they keep reading until they get a good transmission (e.g., the driver moves closer to the sensor) or they send an error message because it’s a false credential.

As long as the system makes a good read and that RFID tag is in the system, it’s accurate.

License plate recognition relies on what cars already have

LPR-based vehicle tracking systems take advantage of something every car already has: license plates. Parking lot operators do not need to issue anything to their users. They only need to know each car’s license plate, which is a standard piece of information collected during employee onboarding, student orientation or parking pass registration.

 

Parking lots using RFID need to issue each car an RFID tag or decal. This adds to the expense of an RFID system, both in terms of equipment and manpower: someone needs to be there to issue all those tags, whether that’s in-person at the parking lot office or stuffing them into the welcome package.

RFID allows transferring access from car to car (for better or worse)

Transferability might be the biggest flashpoint between security and convenience.

License plates are obviously not transferable (not legally, at least). LPR access systems guarantee that the only cars in your parking lot are the cars allowed in your parking lot.

But it’s really not about the cars, right? It’s about the people.

If an employee wakes up one morning and her car doesn’t start, or if he got into an accident the night before, they might have to drive someone else’s car: spouse, roommate, rental. But that car won’t be able to get onto the lot, even though the driver comes there every day. Having to park out in the guest lot (and pay the guest rate!) is going to make an already bad day even worse.

Depending on the RFID system you choose, you may or may not encounter the same thing. RFID credentials can be a decal that go on the windshield. These are as “car locked” as a license plate.

However, you can also go with RFID hang tags or a removable unit like New York’s E-ZPass. If a customer is unable to drive their usual car, they can take one of these windshield tags into their substitute car. Seamless for them, and the same level of security and access control for you: the access goes with the person, not the vehicle.

Of course, the access can also go with the wrong person. Customers may let their friends borrow their parking pass for the day, or the pass may get stolen. Either way, unauthorized personnel can now enter your facility without your knowledge because you only know about the car they drove, not who drove it. Obviously, a stolen car can enter any place that it is registered with an LPR system. But cars tend to be noticed and reported as stolen much sooner than parking tags.

RFID has the edge over LPR for smart parking lots

Did we do it? Did we present an even case for and against both RFID and license plate recognition parking access controls? You tell us.

No, really, tell us! Let us know either way by dropping us a line or calling us, and we’ll be happy to talk in more detail about smart parking systems and how WW&L can help upgrade yours.

WW&L Enters Souvenir Ticket Licensing Agreement with MLB

Paperless tickets let fans have a contact-free experience. Souvenir tickets ensure they don’t lose touch with their beloved team.

Weldon, Williams & Lick (WW&L) printed their first ticket at the turn of the century – the 20th century. Since then, WW&L has printed every form of admission and access control, adding in the digital infrastructure necessary to manage 21st century RFID-enabled building and venue access, parking management and credentialing.

WW&L can now provide souvenir tickets directly to fans of all 30 teams in Major League Baseball, under an official licensing agreement announced this week.

Ticket stubs are an iconic souvenir from sporting events,” says WW&L’s marketing director Laura Skulman. “People will save the ticket stub because the game has personal meaning – checking a historic field off their bucket list or a first date – or because the game wrote itself into baseball history with a no-hitter or pennant-clinching walk-off home run. People display souvenirs on their desks, framed on the wall, in scrapbooks… anywhere they want to remember and maybe show off that one time they were there.”

But what happens in a post-ticket stub world?

Teams and venues from across the sports industry have been shifting towards paperless tickets for the last decade. Digital ticketing reduces the risk of fraud, inhibits unauthorized resale, is environmentally friendly and creates more digital engagement between the fan and the team via the team or league app. They’re also harder to lose or leave on the counter when you head out for the game!

The trend towards digital-only ticketing was already accelerating when COVID-19 forced sports and most other venues to go all-out towards a contact-less and paperless experience.

These benefits came at the expense of a traditional piece of memorabilia and connection between the fan and the club.

“Collecting baseball cards, wearing your baseball team’s baseball cap, attending a Major League Baseball game is all part of a fan’s experience. For many attending MLB baseball games, part of that experience is the souvenir ticket they get to keep. Every game attended, every ticket has a story. Direct Souvenir allows the fan to get that souvenir ticket, that memory and that connection to their story,” said Steve Lensing, Sales Manager of WWL.

Souvenir tickets put a piece of that experience back in the fan’s hand. For the teams, souvenir tickets provide an additional source of revenue, sponsorship activation and brand projection. “Companies can include souvenir tickets as part of the swag bag when they are hosting clients or prospects at a game. Teams can send them out to season ticket holders. Team foundations can use them for fundraisers. Or fans can simply buy them at the point of sale.”

The Arizona Diamondbacks are the first team to take advantage of this opportunity under the new agreement. Other organizations such as the Boston Red SoxChicago White Sox, and Colorado Rockies have provided a similar Souvenir Ticket option in the past through other WW&L Direct Souvenir offerings. 

With over 200 years of combined history (WW&L and MLB were founded just five years apart), these two are well-suited to take the next step in fan engagement together, by never forgetting what matters to the fans in the seats.

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball. Visit MLB.com

Smart credentials for a smarter fan experience

Customers don’t just want to look like a VIP, they want to be treated like one. Upgrading your event’s or venue’s VIP credentials with RFID or UHF technology can increase the value you create for your attendees, sponsors, and yourself.

No one will ever admit that they want an eye-catching access pass to wear on a sponsor-branded lanyard at a festival, conference, or expo. Some people might even roll their eyes when they see the in-crowd walking around with them. But you know what? Give them one of their own to get around an experience worth having access to, and, sure enough, they’ll wear the lanyard all week and have it hanging in their office the rest of the year.

Designing event credentials is an unusually tricky balancing act. They have to serve a purpose, but they’re more than just a ticket. They can be a source of sponsorship revenue, but they can’t just be another place to splatter a bunch of logos that the wearer will ignore. The user should want to keep them, but they have to be more than just a piece of plastic bling.

Credentials have to provide value for everyone involved: the event, the user and the sponsors. They have to help control access, signify who belongs (both in a security and social context) and open doors – literally and figuratively – for an enhanced guest experience.

NFC and RFID technology can provide an instant upgrade to an event's credentials.

It’s not much of a VIP experience if the VIP has to wait in a line, show a badge and have someone say “Yeah, you’re you. Come on in.” Too many everyday experiences are frictionless to let anything sticky happen at the velvet rope. Integrating NFC or RFID into a VIP credential allows for instant identity and access verification at entry points. Security or guest services personnel immediately know whether the person walking in belongs there or not and can greet them appropriately or direct them elsewhere.

Like other NFC or RFID applications in the event industry, these credentials provide valuable venue intelligence. The host or organizer will know each VIP’s activities around the event, allowing them to customize their experience and communications with each guest. This data can also be a valuable part of the event’s sponsorship inventory: whoever sponsors the credential can gain access to the data.

Sponsorship has to benefit the attendee as well as the event and the sponsor.

Like the event itself, the sponsor can learn from the information they glean to create exclusive benefits for the credential holder. These can be planned “money can’t buy your way in” experiences at the event, or follow-on benefits. For example, when a VIP receives their NFC-enabled credential, they can hold their phone next to it and view a personalized video greeting. That message can tell them to check back  at the end of the event, at which point the sponsor can have another personalized video waiting for them with, well, whatever they want to offer.

The credential, then, becomes an ongoing source of engagement between the attendee, the event and the sponsor. The attendee wants to keep it, not just because it’s a good memory and a bit of a status symbol, but because it provides recurring value. The event and the sponsor, meanwhile, have a recurring source of interaction linked to a specific person. This gives them a way to continually refine their customer intelligence and product offering, which they can parlay into recurring revenue.

VIP credentials dangling on lanyards conjure up a mixed bag of impressions. Attendees need a real reason to want to wear them, other than letting everyone know they’re VIPs. Adding NFC or UHF technology to your event’s access credentials makes them a part of the experience, rather than just a way to get in. Schedule a chat with one of our specialists to talk through your smart credential program today!

Experiment: Optimizing Digital Fan Experiences with NFTs

Non-fungible tokens (NFT) were the exclusive province of crypto-tech enthusiasts until about 5 minutes ago, when the NBA and Bleacher Report demonstrated that NFT’s were a six-figure minimum revenue stream for sports properties and digital fan experiences.

NFTs have the potential to be the next way sport teams and venues extend the fan’s game day experience beyond the final whistle. Giveaways and promotions; the three- (or more) day cycle of pre-game hype, game day excitement, post-game wrap-up; the 24/7/265 “everything is a digitally immersive media-intensive brand experience” approach of the NFL are all ways to take expand on the few hours fans are actually in the stadium. Teams are increasingly focusing their efforts on ways to do more with the fundamental symbol of attendance, the ticket.

NFTs bring all that together, linking the ticket to promotions and shareable (or not-so-shareable) media, all while increasing security and creating an open-ended source of revenue for the team.

Really, the one question that remains is: Are you ready to optimize your digital fan experiences with NFTs?

What are the basics of non-fungible tokens?

NFTs are built on an Ethereum-based blockchain. At the most basic level, think “Bitcoin but for tickets.”

Being on the blockchain gives NFTs a level of ownership integrity that no paper or digital ticket can approach. Like any other blockchain transaction, an NFT contains its complete chain of custody and requires that chain of custody if the owner wishes to sell it.

Within the event ticketing world, this protects both the venue and secondary buyers from the risks of forgery, redundant sales, and scalping. With paper or digital tickets, secondary buyers have no way of knowing if they are receiving the actual ticket, a forgery, or a copy. They could show up at the venue only to find that they bought a fake ticket, or that someone else already entered with that ticket’s barcode or QR code. Blockchain transactions eliminate – not reduce, eliminate – this risk, because the chain of custody is instantly verifiable; and only a product that has an embedded chain of custody – the series of blocks on the chain – can create another block upon transfer.

That digital provenance offers a way for the originator of the product – in our case, the team or venue – to monitor all downstream transactions. Using an NFT as a ticket, the venue can write the code to transfer to them a percentage of all follow-on sales. This gives the venue an incentive to permit the secondary market: if the value of their ticket goes up after initial purchase, they receive a portion of that rise. This also helps them lower the prices on the primary market, as they won’t feel like they must “play defense” against the resellers.

Ticketing is an entry-level use of NFTs

Thinking of NFTs simply as a way of developing a “smart ticket,” though, forecloses too much of their value. Remember, NFTs are “forever” and blockchains are essentially unlimited. Once an NFT is on the market, it can be a source of value for as long as people want to trade for it. That means it shouldn’t functionally expire at the end of the game.

Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment – the parent company of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics – sees NFTs as a way of enabling a ticket to do “something other than let [the purchaser] into the building.”

Leonsis talks about using NFTs to sell a memory. Insert your favorite meme from The Matrix here.

Rather than simply replace paper or mobile tickets with NFTs, Leonsis wants to “take a one-time static paper transaction and turn it into an ongoing, recurring transaction.” Think of it as a digital fan experience. One way to do that is by pairing the ticket with a digital good. Bleacher Report auctioned 40 “Gold Edition” and 600 “Silver Edition” digital basketballs designed by rappers 2 Chainz, Quavo, Lil Baby and Jack Harlow. That brought in over $800,000 in a day, and B/R will continue to generate revenue through a cut of any resales.

B/R’s original plan was to auction off actual, physical basketballs. But after seeing how the NBA’s Top Shot, an NFT-based video highlight marketplace, had already made over $300 million, they decided to swap physical basketballs for the digital ones.

But that doesn’t mean that physical collectibles are on a one-way path to the antiques market. B/R still commissioned the physical basketballs, which will be available to anyone with a “Gold Edition” NFT. They can, therefore, expect a spike in trading activity and the marginal revenue in the days leading up to the basketballs’ delivery date.

Connecting souvenir tickets with non-fungible tokens for a digital fan experience

Souvenir tickets and NFTs create a mini-ecosystem for ticket providers: functional and collectible, digital and physical. Souvenir tickets were already growing in popularity as fans looked for ways to commemorate or simply prove their attendance at an event for which they only had a digital ticket. Particularly as venues push towards a fully paperless fan experience, souvenir tickets linked to an actual ticket – purchased at the point of sale, customized to the fans’ seat – will become a regular souvenir.

By linking the souvenir ticket with the NFT, fans receive both physical and digital evidence of being there.

Going further, the team can then do what Bleacher Report is doing and offer a physical souvenir to those fans who can prove their attendance via the NFT. The fans, then, have the option of selling either the physical good or the NFT – a claim on future promos – to hard-core collectors.

If a particular game plays its way into the history books, NFT-based tickets likely will surge on the secondary market… yes, even after the game is over, people will still be buying and selling the tickets. Hey, no one ever said being a sports fan made sense. The teams can continue to roll out new merchandise linked to a particular game: someone who sold their NFT might miss out on the limited edition hat, while someone who bought the NFT five years after the game can find herself at an exclusive autograph session with the players who were part of that thrilling comeback.

The digital fan experience of NFTs is likely to catch on as a collectible investment like traditional baseball cards (we do those, too). When they do, the same questions of “What if I sell and miss out on something big? What if I don’t buy and live to regret it?” will drive fans to distraction, obsession and accumulation, which are always good things for a team’s marketing, merchandise and revenue departments.

WW&L has stayed ahead of the industry – several industries, in fact – for over 100 years. If you’re ready to jump into the world of non-fungible tokens as part of your digital fan experience strategy, get in touch and let’s create new (digital) memories for your fans.

How to own the room with NFC marketing

Greeting cards, gift boxes, parking passes, souvenir tickets, business cards… With NFC marketing, they can now all carry and deliver personalized video messages to recruits, season ticket holders and other VIPs.

Did anyone ever really like those greeting cards that played a little song when you opened them? Certainly not the people who worked near the card aisle at stores, who had to listen to those tinny, chimey tunes all day. Probably not the people who sent them and had to awkwardly write their greeting over the lumpy surface of the card. It’s doubtful anyone who received them thought very highly of them.

Fortunately, like a lot of things, we can now take the idea of a multimedia greeting card over the finish line by shifting the important part of it to our phones. And, while we’re doing that, we can even add video.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology can be used in marketing to make any greeting card or gift box a personalized video delivery device. Bringing your phone near the card or box will let the phone pick up the NFC  signal, displaying on the phone the video embedded in the NFC tag.

How to own the room with NFC marketing

NFC marketing: tap to play

Think of it as “tap to pay” – it’s the same tech – but in this case it’s “tap for a personalized video.”

NFC-enabled greeting cards or boxes are a way for sports teams to go one step further with their VIP experience, whoever their VIPs might be.

Coaches and scouts often send notes to athletes following a recruiting visit to the school. Now they can send a video with the card, like these from Hello Video. When the athlete opens the card and taps it with their phone they get a visual, face-to-face touchpoint with the coach and the team.

The team can take advantage of their alumni network for these videos. The athlete opens the card expecting a formulaic “nice to meet you, contact me with any questions, best of luck in your senior year” message.  Instead, he gets a personalized video greeting (courtesy of NFC marketing) from an alumnus now playing in the NBA. “Mateo, this is the school for you like it was for me. I hope to see you on campus next year, and in the big leagues a few years after that” will go a long way to locking up a five-star recruit.

The same goes for marketing teams looking to improve the fan experience. Season ticket holders receive a box of team swag at the beginning of the season. Now the box can contain a “looking forward to sharing the season” with you message from the coach. Later in the season, the team can send a birthday card with a personalized message from the fan’s favorite player (something the team knows from their fan- and venue intelligence initiatives).

On trend

NFC-enabled paper products satisfy two trends that are increasingly in tension in the sports industry: making as many functions as possible mobile and touchless, while not neglecting the value of physical touchpoints. We see this happening already as teams and venues are offering souvenir tickets even as the actual tickets are now 100% digital.

Souvenirs tickets are, themselves, an opportunity for delivering a personalized video via NFC.

Teams may send season ticket holders or other VIPs a souvenir ticket before a game, or have it waiting for them at their suite or courtside seat.

All the creativity teams already put into their social video content can now be individualized: “You’re in the perfect place to see me hit some long-range 3’s,” a player can say to the fan sitting in the front row, mere feet from the 3-point line. For a season-ticket holder, their souvenir ticket to the first playoff game can hold a video with the players and coach thanking them for being at the home arena just as often as the players and the staff are. “We’ll see you at tip-off, Mike!” would make a big impression on a fan, sponsor or company paying a lot of money to sit where the players will actually see them.

The iot world is your oyster.

NFC technology can make any paper or plastic product a digital product. NFC applications may do more than any other consumer product to erase that line between physical and digital.

WW&L can turn just about anything into an NFC-enabled video-delivery device. Give us a call and let’s talk about how we can help you connect more strongly with your recruits, fans, sponsors or sales prospects.

But you’re on your own for making the video (although we are pretty good at that ourselves).

Healthcare and nursing home facilities made safe with RFID

Safety and security are two of the most common reasons companies cite for installing RFID-enabled systems. Few applications have such an acute, personal component to safety and security as nursing homes, healthcare, and long-term care facilities.

Many “industrial” applications of RFID tracking systems – personnel tracking, inventory management, parking lot and building access control, product delivery – become personal in residential health-care facilities.

RFID helps nursing homes and healthcare know where people are.

An aging population means more people will move into assisted living communities in the coming years. An important subcommunity with unique needs are memory-care facilities.

One of the greatest risks to people with Alzheimer’s or dementia is wandering off. Once a resident leaves the community’s property, they may board a public bus, walk the streets… any number of high-risk situations. The longer they are away from their home, the further they may get, increasing the danger and the amount of time and resources necessary to recover them.

Preventing memory-care residents from wandering off the property, and doing it in a respectful manner, is a high-priority for these facilities. UHF RFID bracelets or tags on each patient’s clothing can alert staff when a patient has left the building, when they are approaching the perimeter of the property and when they have crossed the property line. This gives facility staff multiple opportunities and detailed information to stop the resident from leaving and keep them safely at home. RFID systems can also help locate residents who may get lost on campus, perhaps having inadvertently entered a staff area or ended up in the wrong room on the wrong floor. 

RFID tags on containers of medicine for nursing home management

RFID can ensure proper medication dosage and delivery.

Simple mistakes are the root cause of many preventable malpractice incidents in the health care industry. Giving patients the wrong medicine, or the wrong dose, or the right dose at the wrong time can have serious consequences for everyone involved. RFID tagging can help ensure the right treatments are delivered at the right time to the right people, even in a large-scale setting like a nursing home or memory care community.

RFID tags are standard in warehouses and storerooms across all industries. They give the staff real-time looks at what is where, and when it comes time to pull a product from the shelf for shipment or delivery, RFID ensures that the right thing comes out of storage and makes its way to the right customer.

RFID tags on each container of medication can be linked to each resident’s personal RFID tag. Before a caregiver delivers a treatment, two quick scans can verify that the medicine matches the person. If anything is off – time, dose, patient or product – the staff member is immediately alerted and can prevent an incident.

Nursing home security and access control systems benefit from the use of RFID.

Just as nursing homes need to ensure their residents do not leave the facility without proper authorization and care, they need to ensure that no one enters the facility who shouldn’t be there.

RFID systems can secure access to staff parking lots and entrances. Each staff member can have a UHF tag in their car to facilitate movement in and out of a secure lot, along with a high-frequency or low-frequency ID tag to enter the building, access pharmaceuticals and move through staff-only areas.

When a resident moves in to the facility, their family members can be given RFID tags so they can visit easily and securely. An RFID parking tag smooths their way into a family or regular visitor lot and then cut down on their check-in time when they arrive at the front door. Doctors or caregivers can even set an alert to let them know the next time a family member visits a particular patient, in case she would like to talk face-to-face with the family member.

Like any other commercial facility, regular contractors and vendors could have their own RFID tags to enter loading and unloading areas. By issuing RFID tags at a very low cost to recurring and vetted visitors, they have an easier experience while additional access controls and security resources can be deployed to less known or unknown guests.

And, of course, through it all facility staff know exactly who is on premises and if they are only where they are supposed to be.

Nursing homes make a personal case for RFID systems.

Nursing homes, assisted living communities and healthcare facilities have unique challenges in managing the flow of people and the delivery of day-to-day care. RFID-enabled personnel, access and inventory tracking systems are an inexpensive and non-intrusive way to enhance the security, healthcare and residential experience in these facilities.

WW&L has developed RFID systems for universities, arenas, commercial properties, healthcare and residential facilities. Drop us a note or call us to talk through how RFID can make things better for your guests, clients or residents.

WW&L Enters the Greeting Card Arena with Hello Video

Weldon, Williams & Lick Rekindles the Human Connection with High-Tech Greeting Card Company, Hello Video

Fort Smith, Ark. April 19th, 2021– 2020 was a year unlike any other. We spent months learning to adapt our lives to virtual learning, working from home, and maintaining social distance: transforming our daily lives to reduce the risk of spreading COVID. For those looking to connect from afar, long-standing local business, Weldon, Williams & Lick, is putting its stamp on the traditional greeting-card business with their first ever business to consumer product launch, Hello Video. Hello Video brings traditional greeting cards into the 21st century with video technology capabilities, designed to create a lasting memory.

Beginning today, Hello Video is facilitating “contactless” human connection with a trifecta of an offering – greeting card selected and personalized with a message and image online, shipment directly to the beloved recipient, and a personalized recorded video that can be activated with a simple scan of the card by a smart phone. The magic happens with an embedded NFC chip that WW&L prints inside of the card.

Hello Video is a passion product created by Weldon, Williams & Lick (WW&L), which among other areas of expertise, is an industry leader of state-of-the-art design, printing, packaging & distribution services.

“Whether you’re the mother of a six-year-old just starting school, or a 60-year-old brand new grandfather, shareworthy memories happen daily. But time and distance often get in the way.” Said Tracey Geren, CEO of WW&L. “A personalized video message attached to a classic greeting card gives physical form to our thoughts and emotions. All wrapped into one keepsake your loved ones can cherish and revisit forever. There’s a profound amount of sentiment behind our product. That is the driving nature of its creation.”

How it Works:

Sending a Hello Video greeting card is as easy as 1-2-3. 

  • Visit www.hellovideocard.com and browse cards by holiday and occasion.
  • Select a card and add a personalized message and photo.
  • Record and upload a video.
  • Provide the recipient name and mailing address, and Hello Video will send the card via the mail.
  • When the card arrives in the mail, recipients simply need to place most smart phones over the center of the card’s right interior panel to play the video.

Hello Video offers cards for every major holiday and birthdays along with “just because” and graduation sentiments. The innovative technology captures priceless moments and memories to create a shared experience–that’s the power of Hello Video. All cards are $9.99.

About:

Hello Video is a product of two loves: the art of printmaking and the ingenuity of technology. It combines the best of both to give you a new way to send greetings, share moments, and create memories.

Live Events: The Road to Full Capacity Revival

Most people don’t think of Major League Baseball and Professional Bull Riders as having all that much in common, but – once again – here we are. MLB and PBR (the sports organization, not the cheap beer) will be the first two sports properties to return to 100% capacity in an outdoor and indoor venue, respectively.

Live Events return to full capacity beginning with kioks, professional bull riding and major league baseball

Professional Bull Riders took the least amount of time off of any American sport. By July 2020, they were presenting live events to partial capacity indoor crowds. On April 9, they will open the doors of the Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, SD, to a capacity crowd of 9,000 fans. By that time, 40,000 fans will already have attended the Texas Rangers Opening Day at Globe Life Stadium. One day before PBR’s announcement, the Rangers stated their intention to have a full stadium for their final two preseason games and the season opener.

The capacity crowds will be one of the few “normal as before” aspects of the events. The two organizations and venues are implementing new technologies to allay anxieties and keep attendees and staff safe. Some of them were already on the horizon in the sports and venue intelligence industries, with their adoption being accelerated over the last few months.

Contactless Approaches to Revive Live Events

ASM Global manages the Sanford Premier Center, and has developed a “venue shield” protocol. These measures are designed to minimize close contacts: fans may only interact with a few staffers, but staffers will interact with hundreds of fans.

Tickets to the PBR will be exclusively on smartphones. This allows fans to enter the stadium while staying at least two arms’ length from the ticket checker. All concession sales will be contactless, which will likely be a combination of mobile and card-only transactions. The concession stands will have prepackaged food and drink so employees won’t have to go hand-to-hand and face-to-face to give someone their order.

Globe Life Stadium will also open with cashless concessions. Cashless stadiums were already a trend in 2019, and are now set to be the standard.

Parking operations will also accelerate their move towards being purely digital. Venue operators will be hard-pressed to tell an employee “OK, stand in this little enclosed booth while having repeated hand-to-hand contact with a few hundred strangers.” Teams that had not started using RFID parking tags or decals for their season ticket holders will start adopting that technology, or use a mobile bar code or QR code scanner in place of tickets and booths

Make Every Use of Venue Intelligence

After Opening Day, the Rangers intend to reserve several seating sections for fans who wish to continue social distancing. Venues in other states or countries will likely be keen to monitor social distancing as part of their reopening processes, whether for enforcement, contact tracing or research purposes.

RFID beacons will play a significant role in monitoring the distance between fans, or, conversely, the density of fans in any area. If teams, leagues or public health official suspect that a venue was a “superspreader,” the data from these RFID systems will be crucial in understanding the patterns of transmission and informing attendees of any potential risk so they can get tested.

This form of contact tracing will build upon current practices in venue intelligence. Before COVID, arenas and stadiums were using RFID systems to study how fans move through their stadiums; which areas become congested while others remain unpopulated; and how fans interact with the various features of the venue (e.g., concessions, merchandise, activity areas).

The original uses for this data were to improve the customer experience and enhance the values of retail or sponsored areas. Going forward, health and safety concerns will be part of the CX: attendees will be concerned, as well as annoyed, by tightly packed areas. Venues will have an additional motivation to ensure an even distribution of fans across concourses, bathrooms and concession areas; and to minimize the wait times at each. Even after COVID concerns pass, these findings and the subsequent changes will enhance the CX.

Kiosks Will Pave the Way for Live Event Revival

Live Events are easily revived with kiosk solutions

Everything your staff does in your facility is essential to your facility operating the way you want it to. Otherwise, why would they be doing it?

But just because they are doing it doesn’t mean they have to. Or, more specifically, nothing says that humans have to do it.

Kiosks will replace employees throughout the facility. Walk-up attendees will be able to buy their tickets from a kiosk, and have them printed or texted to their phones. If a fan is ambling through the concourse and decides they want something to eat or drink, they will have the option of using an (anti-microbial and anti-viral) touchscreen at the concession area. Kiosks will be the first line of customer service for many basic tasks, letting the employees handle more demanding jobs and minimizing gratuitous interactions.

Kiosks and mobile apps will complement each other, perhaps even overlap, keeping the range of options open for the fans.

Souvenir Tickets Keep the Connection Alive

Fans of Direct Souvenir Ticketing

Direct Souvenir Fans

Sports properties and venue operators will be exploring ways to welcome fans back, say “We’ve missed you” and help them reintegrate with their fandom.

The move to paperless everything eliminates a common souvenir: ticket stubs. Opening Day ticket stubs are always a collectible, as are ticket stubs from games with some special significance to the team or fans.

Souvenir tickets likely will become a regular offering at point of sale or post-event, if the game ended up being memorable (you don’t buy a ticket expecting a no-hitter). Souvenir tickets let the fans hold on to a physical keepsake from the game while keeping the actual act of ticket verification and entrance contact-free. They are also a new revenue stream, which is something every team and venue could use this year.

Returning to Normal: Customer satisfaction is Timeless

Ideas and policies borne out necessity over the last year will be evaluated through a different lens in the coming months, the usual lens: does this create value for our company by improving our guests’ experience? Technologies that went through several development cycles in 2020 will start hitting their stable versions in 2021 as fans and other attendees reveal their preferences around ticketing, concessions, parking and other aspects of the venue experience.

WW&L has been adapting to technological innovations and consumer preferences for over a century. You could say we switched from paper tickets to RFID before it was cool (or necessary).

Let us know how we can help your venue welcome guests back in 2021, and keep them coming back through first-class service and experiences.

Reimagine the Live Event Fan Experience with WW&L

  • Zone Boundaries – Pass or Ticket Visible with visible vaccination waiver language
  • Seating – Social Distancing
  • Restrooms – Entry Monitored and Controlled
  • Concessions:
    • Limited or Delivery
    • Contactless Payment
    • Prepackaged Condiments
  • Controlled Exit:
  • Rows Released By Usher
  • Exit Closest First

Using Custom Graduation Prints to Help Celebrate Your Students

Graduations always hold a particular sense of finale. They mark the progression from student to alumnus and allow for an atmosphere of celebration as the graduate’s achievements are recognized by friends and family.

Likewise, the diploma itself marks this recently completed stage, symbolizing all the years of extensive study and time spent as well as the new adventures waiting on the horizon. It represents the significance of the application of oneself to study over time, culminating in preparation for the next stage of life to begin. That’s a great deal of meaning to imbue in one piece of paper!

Custom graduation posters and tickets

The Most Important Graduation Print

If you guessed the diploma is the most important graduation print there is, give yourself a pat on the back. You nailed it!

As an “experienced” graduate, I’ve always found it a bit odd that the “diploma” you receive as you shake hands and smile for the photo op is actually just an empty diploma holder.

Of course, graduates receive a final diploma from their school – usually several weeks after the ceremony ends. When the diploma itself arrives in the mail, it’s only natural to get excited and end up taking another impromptu photo, but something about the picture of yourself in your PJ’s holding a shiny new diploma with the rest of the mail just doesn’t seem as celebratory. Go figure!

If you want to give a graduate in your life a more memorable experience, consider ordering some personalized promotional prints that are sure to put a smile on their face (and look much better in graduation photos than an empty diploma holder!).

And it doesn’t stop there – you’d be surprised at all of the wonderful prints you can customize to make your graduate’s day even more special.

Custom Prints to Celebrate Graduation

Gift your grad something they can hold onto to acknowledge their successes for years to come.

1. Commemorative Tickets

The tickets given out by most schools to reserve seats for graduation aren’t always the most special. In fact, they might just take the form of slips of paper, or raffle tickets. Not very memorable, in our opinion.

These commemorative tickets are different. Select your own artwork to upload (a senior photo or other nice picture of the grad, perhaps?). You can design your artwork to also include the grad’s name, the school name, or whatever else you want printed on the ticket. We’ll take it from there, printing you glossy commemorative tickets that would look excellent in a scrapbook or shadowbox with other memories of graduation.

For a different approach, consider using our pre-designed General Admission Graduation tickets, customized with the school name, graduation venue address, date, and time. Add the school’s logo for a special touch.

2. Personalized Grad Posters

Looking for a different way to spread the word? Graduation posters could be just the thing! These entirely customizable posters are a great way to display graduation venue information, times, and other pertinent details. They are a great way to announce a graduation party, with the poster as a lasting token of the event.

3. DIY Grad Badges

If you are throwing a huge celebration for your graduates, these DIY Grad Badges will be a hit. Perfect for large gatherings in public or shared spaces, custom Grad Badges will identify distinguished members of the graduating class so attendees can shower them with praise and congratulations! Customize the badges with their school logo or personal photo, custom text, and font style/colors.

Good Luck, Graduates!

For so many students, graduation day remains the goal that they have strived for and worked toward for years. Finally receiving recognition for their hard work is of paramount importance, as is the acceptance of their diploma in front of friends and family. Celebrating their success with personalized prints is an excellent way to keep the recognition going and let your graduate know how proud you are of their accomplishments.

One thing is for sure – as the graduates of 2020 and 2021 embark into their new journeys in the world, they will carry with them the distinction of accomplishing their studies and achieving success despite odds that most of us have never faced before. That is certainly something to be proud of.

How will you choose to celebrate the graduates in your life?

The Top 5 Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing for Alumni Outreach Programs

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars today to leverage the benefits digital era. In fact, no one likes to drain their marketing budget on long-term marketing campaigns. And this is where direct mail has managed to come back to the spotlight.

After all, it is one of the best ways to contact valuable individuals through preferred channels. Contrary to misguided perception, direct mail marketing is alive and well. In fact, in many cases, it works even better than email marketing.

You might not be aware of it, but direct mail marketing solutions have become ideal to influence action. You can now make direct mail part of your marketing mix. Predominantly, it has started to become a gold standard to learn about alumni outreach programs offered by the universities.

Here are the top key points that can convince you to follow the tide of direct mail marketing:

1. No More Opt-Ins with Personalized Direct Mail

Unlike text messaging and email marketing, you don’t need permission to send direct mail in your alumni outreach program. And when someone unsubscribes from your direct mail, you can still stay in contact with them. It is the sole reason that makes printed direct mail so much more intuitive and personalized than digitalized email marketing campaigns.

Plus, when you send direct mail, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a spam filter. If you’re skeptical about direct mail because someone else “might” pick up your messages, then rest assured that it happens rarely. Unlike ad copies and email marketing, direct mail never runs into viruses as well.

2. Direct Mail is not Invasive

Unlike most marketing tactics, creative direct mail doesn’t interrupt or force the audience for attention. Sure, email marketing is effective, but it fights to garner the attention that often bums out people. With creative direct mail, you can count on high engagement. It is an absolute certainty to get real results from real mails directed at your alumni.

With email marketing, for instance, most of the target audience does not respond or even read the messages. Since companies and individuals receive significantly more spam-filled marketing emails, it is a chance for direct mail to leverage the unique opportunity.

3. Direct Mail Leaves a Long and Lasting Impression for your Alumni Outreach Program

Mostly, people choose to leave their direct mail on the desk or the refrigerator door for weeks. So, even when the mail doesn’t lead to instant action, it can linger in the minds of the recipients. Ultimately, direct mail is a more striking choice to contact and leads to action.

You can expect the same desired effect when a recipient moves on. Often, people send bounced emails to people who have moved on to another company. With direct mail, however, you can reintroduce yourself like a vendor.

4. Specificity is Enabled with Direct Mail Alumni Outreach

With direct mail, you can be as specific as you want to be with your targeted alumni audience. There are always certain offers that won’t get you enough attention through email. And this is where creative mail shines. It allows educational institutes and businesses to send direct mail as a way to build trust and convey the offered information at the same time. Besides, the tangible nature of direct mail makes a bold impression that is usually hard to get through other marketing tactics.

5. Direct Mail Can Drive Online Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Yes, you can send creative direct mail and still roll out online and social media marketing efforts. If your audience prefers mobile interaction, you can optimize the direct mail to get the attention and build valuable relationships. You can use direct mail to influence key alumni decision-makers. Simultaneously, you can brainstorm new ideas to step up your mobile and social media engagements.

Use Direct Mail for Alumni Outreach Programs for Universities

There are endless opportunities to communicate with alumni through direct mail. Once you figure out the preference of your target audience, you can create visual graphics and content that will grab their attention.

In fact, testing direct mail campaigns for different alumni engagement has become standard practice. You can use a social media management tool and integrate other marketing strategies. For most universities, the commitment towards your alumni is an ideal tool to empower and raise funds.

It serves as an opportunity to raise awareness and conduct direct mail marketing campaigns. There was a time when alumni engagement came down to the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns, and that means traditional student reunions and phone calls. You can still use invitation notes, postcards, and printed flyers to entice attention.

But in the digital age, universities have a unique chance to engage and communicate with their alumni on a more personal, modern, realistic, and consistent basis. You can use direct mail to collect resourceful information about several alumni programs.

Furthermore, you can use the same information to develop persona maps for every alumni group. You can also use a variety of digital tools to track your alumni engagement tactics. For instance, you can use Twitter for quick shout outs and updates.

You have to think of direct mail as a way to promote the entire network among alumni. Though ultimately, you have to offer your alumni reason to share relevant content. As far as the personas of your target audiences go, you can categorize information on interested subjects, current jobs, level of engagement, total spend time online, connections on Twitter or LinkedIn, interaction method, and preference between blog posts and podcasts.

How to Move Forward with your Alumni Direct Mail Campaign

On the surface, direct mail may not come across as glamorous, but you have the freedom to personalize the messages that cater to your specific target audience. Now you can get the attention of your target customers without false hopes or promises. Start the discussion through direct mail and analyze how the discourse moves forward.

You can add your own creative touch through proactive direct mail marketing campaigns. Incorporate memorable content within your direct mail marketing campaigns that would help you break new sales records and drive growth. In retrospect, now you can turn your creative ideas into reality through promotional direct print-mail services.

Before and After the Event: Super-Customization of Promotional Packaging for Sports Teams

It takes modern innovation and an intuitive approach to capture the attention of contemporary sports enthusiasts. In fact, the presentation of personalized packaging has become the hallmark of sports teams’ identity.

When sports fans are ready to watch the live-event of their favorite team, they want the full experience. Whether it’s logo, seat number, name, major, or college-specific logs, these things matter. In fact, promotional presentation now serves as a commitment and renders perfect customer experience.

Custom Promotional Package for sports fan experience

AI and the Power of Personalized Packaging in Sports Events

From name to the logo, the first brand impression builds a long and healthy relationship with the customers. What’s more is that modern packaging offers high-quality printing and attractive embellishments. With digital tech and transformative venue intelligence, event managers have an opportunity to further elevate the experience of customers.

The AI, digital tools, analytics, and personalization may be new to some event managers, but it wouldn’t hurt to conceptualize the core ideas. In fact, event managers often move from theoretical contribution to implement these creative ideas.

Sports events are also perfect vehicles for event planners to check the impact of AI, integrated digital tools, and personalized packaging. You may not realize it, but paper packing is a theoretical contribution that heightens technology and marketing.

As a result, it brings the attention of sports enthusiasts to non-human elements that create a unique customer experience. Your venue event is an ecosystem where you can personalize and roll out AI-based touch points in different sports events.

Sports Events: Cards, Logos, and Other Promotional Packaging Elements

Now you can design your event cards and logos with careful consideration and specificity. Whether it’s card configuration, card topper, loop closure, tab cutout, or magnetic lid, there are several customization options.

If you want a sports team to grow its fan base, aim for the personalized items that event planners can market before each game. In fact, strong sports cards give you a competitive edge. Plus, smart sports cards and logos always look great. You can use a custom color palette, symbols, fonts, and make it look more cheerful.

Your sports cards and logos should be clean, durable, and contemporary to get the first impression of sports fans. Moreover, personalized sports cards and logos are integral to create discourse among college fans. Although each college team card and logo would be different, you can focus on specific staple elements that would improve the entire team’s journey.

Promotional Boxes and Customized Designs: A Chance to Show Off Your Venue Features

The event management and planning of sports events create a unique energy and excitement. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of event managers to offer a line of promotional boxes to increase the excitement. The launch of a new service or product through promotional boxes would make a long and lasting impression.

Again, the design, functions, and overall aesthetic value of the promotional packaging make the imprinted impression. So, make sure the design of the promotional box aligns with a specific team’s brand image. If you feel like the promotional box requires more improvement, you can make new changes for another upcoming sports event.

Simultaneously, you can keep an eye on the development and supervise the design and size elements to accommodate the sports event. Brawny base, cut-window, or takeaway handle, you can add or eliminate elements from the box until there is no cause of concern left. The trick is to opt for well-crafted and well-defined promotional packaging that can imprint the sports team’s reputation and image and express the passion of the fans at the same time.

Choose Unique and Personalized Styles of Promotional Boxes Build Your Event’s Brand Identity

If you want to highlight the valuable insights of a specific product, custom promotional boxes can help you showcase offers in a professional style. When it comes to packaging, there are hundreds of box closures styles.

For instance, you can choose complex rigid magnetic or straightforward tuck-top closure boxes. Experienced event planners also review the complex height, depth, and width of the boxes to ensure a specific closure style would look perfect on the boxes. On top of all, the personalized packaged promotion will help you build more hype around sports events.

Promotional packages different sizes for customization

Present to Impress and Impress to Present

Every now and then, sports event organizers need a little push to make the most out of new opportunities. You can now flash your presentation through customized promotional packaging. Think of it as a bold entrance of a new service, product, or launch kit that would help you draw the attention of more fans.

For instance, you can pair a personalized promotional box with specific information material and souvenirs. You can fit in elegant, classy, and luxurious packaging to dazzle everyone at first glance. At the end of the day, you want people in the sports stadium to think about the uniqueness of the event.

More Personalization Forms Better Connectivity

It is the spirited promotion and fervent presentation that makes a sports event so special. Besides, unlike other venues, sports events need to offer more connectivity to meet the high expectations and demands of sports enthusiasts. It is a win-win strategy for event planners to drive consistent growth.

The new emerging changes in the sports events will continue, and the ball is now in your court to set a new precedent. The design of modern-day sports stadiums, halls, and venues offer the perfect live experience to dedicated fans.

In fact, smart sports venues have become more flexible to enrich customer experience while allowing event managers to offer various new services and lower operational costs. Not to mention it will help event managers, sponsors, operators, and partners garner more profits.

Promotional Packaging is Part of Your Brand's Experience

Custom presentation and personalized promotion is not a new phenomenon, but minimal and slick customization creates unique customer experiences. Even just for a logo, there are endless design options that allow you a certain degree of freedom to showcase your own signature style. Follow the tide and embrace smart tech and personalized solutions to provide sports fans more immersive and exciting experiences.

WW&L Recognized by BOOVE as Top Content Producer in Arkansas

WW&L named top content producer in Arkansas

BOOVE, the online book magazine, has recognized Weldon, Williams & Lick as a top content producer headquartered in Arkansas. Their data was sourced from Crunchbase and SemRush

Arkansas businesses were selected for exceptional performances in the following categories:

Innovative ideas

Innovative route to market

Innovative product

Exceptional growth

Exceptional growth strategy

Management

Societal impact

Curious to see which other Arkansas businesses were selected? View the full article here

 

Souvenir Tickets, A Love Letter

Somewhere in a house in suburban Rochester, NY, is a ticket stub from the inaugural game of the Buffalo Stampede, a short-lived team in a just slightly longer-lived league. Below the names of the teams is stamped one of the most incredible days in the history of American sports: June 17, 1994. Whether they know the exact date or not, nearly every American sports fan and many other Americans remember what they were doing and what they were watching on that day. Few, though, have physical proof, hard evidence, tix-or-it-didn’t-happen of where they were on “the day sports collided.”

Maybe a few hundred Buffalonians still have, somewhere, the novelty souvenir of a Stampede ticket stub. Surely thousands more consider as almost priceless their tickets from Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Arnold Palmer’s final round at the US Open, the Kansas City Royals game where the Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey, Jr., tied Babe Ruth’s record for most home runs before July 1 or the opening ceremonies of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. If only the New York Rangers had issued ceremonial souvenir tickets to their Stanley Cup victory parade.

If there were somehow ever another day like June 17, 1994, no one would have such a memento. Digital ticketing put an end to one of our great collectibles.

There's still hope for souvenir tickets

Teams and venues are starting to realize that fans lose out on some of the experience when they do not have their ticket as a souvenir. Physical tickets represent part of the excitement of sports: you never know, as you enter the arena, just what that little rectangle will represent by the end of the night.

Souvenir tickets are bringing back some of that special feeling to fans and attendees. With a single click, fans can upgrade their ticket from a QR code that gets them through the door to something they can hold in their hand, display on their wall and – as necessary – wave around as proof that, yes, they were there the night THAT happened.

Souvenir tickets not only give fans a deeper sense of connection to the venue and the event, they are a source of add-on revenue for the seller.

Souvenir tickets earn extra revenue

With COVID restrictions limiting attendance, souvenir tickets are an expedient to keep the fans who would be there feeling as close as possible to being there, while also letting the team make some money on the game. In January 2021, a team in the eighth-tier of English soccer, Marine FC, faced off against Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Under normal circumstances, such a meeting of David and Goliath would have netted each club about $175,000 – close to the annual budget of the David club. In an attempt to cover the lost revenue, Marine sold virtual tickets for £10… and sold over 30,000, including one to their opponent’s manager!

Those were virtual tickets. Had they sold physical souvenir tickets – if not for everyone, at least for the 3,185 fans who would have otherwise packed the stadium – the sting of the missed opportunity for revenue and engagement would have come down a bit more.

Tickets for any purpose

While sports memories are all about the surprise and spontaneity, many memorable events are planned well in advance. Souvenir tickets can be a keepsake from corporate events, birthday parties, weddings… dare we suggest souvenir tickets to gender reveal parties? If the parents are both sports fans or regular concert goers, it would be on-brand!

WW&L has over a century of experience in printing tickets, from the kind stashed in shoeboxes to the ones that use RFID for a seamless venue experience. We can customize souvenir tickets to sell throughout a season, a marketing campaign or for a single event.

It’ll be up to you to make the event memorable. Or just do what the Buffalo Stampede did and schedule your event on the most surreal day in the sporting lives of generations of fans. We’ll be there to ensure the fans have something to prove their slice of that history to others.

Is RFID Grocery Pickup the Next Big Win for Technology?

Weldon, Williams & Lick thinks so.

Curbside pickup started as an expedient and is now an expectation for grocery stores. RFID technology can help supermarkets provide curbside pickup at the highest levels of service.

The first generation of RFID applications in supermarkets focused on the in-store experience for employees and customers. RFID tagging enabled accurate real-time inventory control, and minimizing or eliminating point-of-sale interactions. The next generation may follow the customer experience by shifting outside the store, doing more to support customers, employees and vendors for curbside pickup.

Grocery delivery services were one of the beneficiaries of 2020. By the end of the year, though, some retailers started to question their relationships with those companies and the percentages of each sale they charged. As one supermarket CEO told the Wall Street Journal, “We don’t think we make money from an Instacart order,“ going on to say that delivery services increase revenue even if they don’t contribute to profits. As a result, for every grocery store that welcomed a shopping and delivery service at their store, another at least considered bringing their delivery service in-house.

The middle ground between traditional shopping and delivery is curbside pickup. Supermarkets and other retailers use their own employees to provide this service, helping them keep down the cost. The combination of convenience and habit formation means that curbside service will not go away when all things coronavirus finally do. Customers will continue to want to pull into a parking spot, pop the trunk and drive off with their groceries a few minutes later. As a result, stores will need to develop their physical infrastructure to meet this demand.

Grocery stores were built for shopping, not pickup

RFID Grocery Supermarket pick up system
Grocery Bags from RFID curbside pickup

Stores are not set up to have a steady stream of employees moving in and out of the building, pushing carts and crates, cutting across the main flow of parking lot traffic. Grocery stores usually have one wide main entrance, a consideration that has as much to do with the intended flow of customer traffic inside the store (start at produce, finish at the register – we all know how it goes) as it does basic ingress and egress. Employee entrances are usually a single door off to the side or around back, and loading docks are, obviously, all the way around the back.

With curbside delivery service, employees are regularly travelling in and out of the store, moving loads that range from the average single customer’s to something more befitting the loading dock, if they are taking multiple large orders out to the parking lot at once.

 

This can clog up the customer entrance, which is as bad for customer satisfaction as it is for social distancing. Some stores repurposed an employee entrance for their curbside pickup team, but those doors were not designed for frequent passage by people pushing carts or carrying loads. Just the opposite. They are usually heavy, hinged doors requiring one hand to scan a badge and another to open the door. Not very useful for someone on the move with things in both hands.

Nor are grocery stores set up for anything resembling a drive-thru. There’s no lane that wraps around the store, ending at a small window where the employees hand the customer their order. Even if there was, the size of the order would require a much different build-out than fast-food restaurants.

Grocery store employee RFID tags keep them and customers moving freely

New stores may be built to facilitate curbside service, but existing stores do not have much leeway in changing their building or parking lot design. They will need to modify what they can to facilitate curbside delivery.

RFID tags are one way grocery stores can evolve towards a growing curbside delivery market.

Supermarkets cannot detract from the in-store customer experience as they improve their curbside operations. One priority will be ensuring that curbside employees do not create a chokepoint at the entrance or exits that interferes with in-store shoppers. Stores will either need a dedicated door – one that can support the size of the carts the employees are using – or will have to improve flow through the main door.

RFID access tags for employees will make things easier for the employees and will keep them moving through the doors. As an employee pushes the cart or carries bags towards the door, a mid-range RFID door access system will open the door for them without having to stop, put things down and fumble with a tag. RFID door controls are more reliable and work at a greater distance than standard automatic door sensors. Those sensors will still be in place for customers, but the doors could be under dual control, ensuring the employees are never in the customer’s way.

If the store chooses to keep the curbside pickup staff away from the main door, RFID can make it easier for the staff to go in and out of the employees’ door.

RFID-enabled parking lots remove friction from grocery store pickup

Stores could also provide their curbside customers with an RFID tag of their own, similar to a parking lot hangtag or windshield decal. When a customer pulls into a curbside delivery parking spot, their RFID tag will let the employees know that the customer has arrived and which spot they are in.

Now you might be thinking: Isn’t that a bit much? It’s not like it’s hard for the customer to tap their app to let the store know they are there.

But it’s still one more thing the customer has to do, one more friction point (or sticky point, depending on your preference).

When Amazon opened the Amazon Go store in Seattle, they wanted customers “to feel like they’re stealing.” Customers would take an item off the shelf and put it in their bag, and then walk out the door. Amazon’s technology ensured they weren’t actually stealing, but even scanning your app at an unmanned point-of-sale a la Apple Pay was too much friction for Amazon’s ideal experience. When deciding whether to tolerate a minimal slow-down point or demand no slow-down points, well, it was never really a decision for them. As is often the case, Amazon’s standard will eventually become industry standard.

RFID was one of the technologies powering Amazon Go, and will only grow its role in the grocery store experience.

Eventually, RFID will let stores return their curbside delivery parking spots to in-store shoppers. RFID vehicle tags will allow drivers to queue up at some kind of grocery drive-thru. A display inside the employee area will let the staff know when a customer is on the lot, where they are in line and when to wheel out which order. All the data from this system will then allow the store to improve their operations, reducing wait times, setting the right staffing levels and ensuring safe and efficient traffic through the parking lot

Curbside pickup will be another differentiator in a tight market

From runs on certain products to new modes of shopping, grocery stores have had to be as agile as any industry over the last year. RFID systems can help grocery stores make the transition from on-the-fly “will this work” to a more stable and profitable way of operating. Curbside pickup isn’t going anywhere, so the supermarkets that do it best will have a significant advantage going forward.

WW&L has provided RFID infrastructure to sports arenas, stadiums, commercial parking lots, concert venues, museums and, yes, grocery stores. Get in touch with us to talk through how RFID can improve your curbside pickup services.

RFID Gate Access for Residential Parking

Gate access is at the intersection of safety, security and convenience for multi-family residential properties. High-rise apartment buildings, suburban apartment complexes and gated communities all have unique requirements for managing the flow and identification of vehicles on and off their property. RFID access systems provide a simple solution for traffic flow among residents, employees and visitors.

HOA Residential RFID Gate Access Control

RFID access for city living: Secure and convenient garage access

Most urban apartment buildings have their parking lots under their residences, whether that is in an underground lot or the first few floors of the building. Other than the lobby doors, then, vehicle entrances are the building’s main point of access. Vehicle access and even pedestrian access into these spaces are, therefore, a major point of safety and security for the residents.

RFID-enabled decals overcome a recurring vulnerability in building access: unauthorized transfers. Hangtags, swipe cards and clickers can all be loaned out to friends or visitors. Residents can run downstairs, swipe or click somebody in, and then go back up.

RFID decals on the windshield of a car have a built-in “self-destruct mechanism”: if a resident tried to remove it and give it to a friend, they would destroy it. The friend would not be able to get in, and the resident would have to explain just what they were trying to do when they come to the office and ask for another.

On top of that, there’s no chance of losing, misplacing or dropping it, so residents have one less worry and you don’t need to worry about who might pick it up.

Ultra-high frequency RFID vehicle access systems also allow for greater physical security with less infrastructure at a building.

Most parking garages have a “scan station” with a retractable arm. Not only can someone just walk right past these, they are exposed to vandalism, extreme weather or car accidents. They also create a bottleneck at the entrance to the building. If several cars arrive at about the same time, they will end up queuing across the sidewalk and into the street. This presents an annoyance and a hazard for pedestrians who try to dodge between the cars, and for cyclists in the bike lane that is being blocked by cars waiting to get in. And it takes out a lane of traffic and causes merges and lane shifts at the time of day that every lane is already busiest.

With a UHF access system, high-rise apartment buildings can have a fully closed garage door. As a resident’s car approaches the entrance, the garage door rises and is fully open by the time the car turns in.

No stopping, no bottlenecking, no traffic impact.

If several cars are arriving one after another, the RFID system will register each arrival, keeping the garage door open. Any pedestrian entering the garage at this time could be noticed by the drivers, and by security staff who would know when the garage door is open. Additionally, installing a license plate reader with the RFID system will tell you everything you need to know about any car that tries to slip in between two residents.

RFID gate access secures the value of residential communities

Secure access and streets that do not carry through-traffic are among the leading reasons people choose to move into gated communities. Because they have relatively few entrances and those entrances have some sort of access control, they can present as much of a rush hour bottleneck as an urban apartment building.

RFID parking systems provide all the same benefits to residents of gated communities as other multifamily housing properties. Vendor and contractor arrivals, though, present a different challenge.

Only a limited number of vendors and contractors need access to apartment buildings. Regular maintenance is performed by employees – who have their own entrances and access badges – and the apartment building has their roster of contractors to do the specialized work.

Depending on the regulations of the homeowners’ association, though, residents in a gated community may all choose different providers to do their work.

On a given day, six different electricians and three different roofing contractors may be in the community. This leads to the classic situation where the harried security guard is checking through clipboards full of paperwork to verify a contractor’s access while traffic builds up, the homeowner gets impatient and the contractor is in a mood before he even arrives. 

With RFID-enabled gate security integrated into the communities’ digital infrastructure, residents can enter their visitors’ information – whether the visitor is a friend or a contractor – into the security system. When the visitor arrives, security personnel issues a guest RFID pass that will log them in and out of the property. Depending on how far the HOA wants to go with security, they can even install RFID readers around the premises to keep an eye on where else those guest passes show up.

RFID solves common gate access and vehicle ID problems

Any large property is going to have a large parking lot, which can quickly become a large parking and traffic problem. RFID gate access controls and vehicle identification systems eliminate many of regular problems that arise from vehicles coming on and off the property. By doing so, they enhance the safety, security and convenience of the property for the residents, and therefore the value for the owners and managers.

WW&L has developed RFID access solutions for properties of all sizes across a range of industries. Let us know how you’d like to improve your parking and traffic situation, and we’ll sit down to talk about how RFID can be part of the answer your need. If you are looking for a quick, long-range RFID solution, check out our NEDAP Transit reader.

Access Greatness: RFID Managed Parking Lots

RFID access controls keep vehicles and people moving smoothly in and out of parking lots, improving security, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

RFID parking lot management and access control markets

When was the last time you saw a phone booth, a real working phone booth with a pay phone? Been a while. How about a toll booth on the highway, the kind where cars have to stop to hand money to a person or at least slow down enough to toss some coins into a basket? Maybe a bit more recently, but you still had to think back a bit. Now what about a parking lot attendant booth, the kind that needs to be manned at least during normal business hours if not 24/7; the kind that often has several cars idling in the queue waiting to get in or out; the kind that can’t tell you much more about the status of your parking lot other than the number of cars in the lot?

If you’re reading this blog, you probably work in parking lot management, so you might be able to look out your window and see an example of what we’re talking about. If that’s the case, our next question is: Why?

Active and passive RFID have their place in parking lot management

RFID systems come in passive and active forms. Passive RFID managed parking systems require the reader and the credential to be in close range: when you scan an access badge to enter a building or office or to lift the gate to get in or out of a parking lot, you’re interacting with passive RFID. These systems are less expensive and have less physical infrastructure on both sides than active systems.

Active systems work over a longer range and, therefore, can work at speed. Depending on the strength of the RFID transmitters, active systems can cover a range of up to 300 feet.   

Both have their place in parking lot management, even within the same facility or same lot.

Because of the cost and necessary materials, passive RFID is ideal for deploying at scale. Hangtags and windshield decals are the simplest and most cost-effective solution for employees, students and regular visitors. Their low price reduces the cost to you or the end user for a replacement tag, and the ease with which a lost tag can be deactivated ensures that a misplaced tag doesn’t lead to unauthorized access to your parking lot.

Passive RFID tags are also fully customizable. This allows universities to issue easily recognizable parking tags each semester or school year, while also having the option to “roll over” the existing set of tags. Entertainment venues, museums, amusement parks and other cultural or recreational sites can also design their tags to denote season-pass holders, reserved lot access or high-value donors or sponsors.

Active RFID parking management streamlines vendor and commercial traffic

Of course, employees’ and guests’ cars are not the only vehicles that need access to your parking lot. You have deliveries, vendors, contractors and the rest. For many of these parties and their vehicles, active RFID managed parking is worth the cost.

A small number of commercial vehicles can jam up an access control point faster than the same number of cars. This can impact the traffic flow entering your facility, wastes time and money, and puts more vehicle exhaust into the air around the lot. With active RFID, your regular commercial visitors can trigger the gate control well before they reach the access point. They can then drive right through and go about their business. And, depending on the size of their vehicle, they may particularly appreciate not having to get out or awkwardly reach out the window to scan their credential.

Like with the passive RFID systems, when the active RFID system detects a vehicle’s arrival, instant notifications can be spread to whoever needs to know. The appropriate employees will know that a delivery, vendor or contractor has arrived and they can then be waiting to meet them, again improving efficiency for both sides.

RFID combines gate access control with facility-wide security

RFID managed parking lot access systems are fully customizable in their infrastructure and applications. These systems let you control access not just at the external entrance to your lot, but within any subdivisions of your lot.

One tag can open as many or as few gates as you want. If you have executive or VIP parking, you can have an additional access point for those spaces that allow entry to only the appropriate tag holders. The marginal cost of adding that access point is much lower than it would be if you needed a manned attendant booth. Even without additional personnel on site, RFID systems increase the security of the parking lot. Because the RFID systems control exit as well as entry, a facility’s security staff always have at their fingertips a real-time view of which cars – specifically, whose cars – are where in their lots. No one wants a car to leave the lot with the wrong driver any more than they want the wrong car to enter the lot.

The tracking features are not just for the parking lot managers and security staff. Parking lot RFID systems power the displays drivers see telling them how many parking spots are available on different floors of the garage or in different corners of the lot. Real-time displays can direct drivers to the closest available spot when they arrive, and then to the quickest exit on the way out.

WW&L’s e-commerce solution for parking lot management

RFID systems and parking lot control have become an industry-standard pair. That’s why WW&L has a dedicated e-commerce site for our parking lot management equipment. Whether you need to order the next semester’s worth of hangtags or a full active RFID set-up to support your company’s expansion, WW&L has everything just a few clicks away.

And as always, if you’re not entirely sure what you need or have a few lingering questions about how to streamline your parking lot security and access controls, WW&L is here to answer any questions you have and talk through your project.

Venue Intelligence: Real-Time Counts and Alerts

Today, you can optimize the operations, capacity, and security of an event through venue intelligence. However, hospitality and entertainment venues have had to face setbacks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Real Time Counts and Venue Capacity Management with RFID

Real-Time Counts and Alerts: What Can You Do?

Event organizers can check accurate counts of the total number of individuals present on the venue premises. The occupancy counting is a visual monitoring system that allows you to check multiple areas of a building. You can preview the live totals on a tablet-mode style screen.

You can use the same display to assign more visual parameters and alerts in specific areas of the venue. What’s interesting is that you don’t necessarily have to be at the event to monitor its total crowd capacity. You can use a mobile device and send visual texts or alerts to the onsite staff about the current capacity limits.

Here is how businesses can comply with occupancy regulations through real-time alerts and counts:

  • You can set occupancy warnings and alerts by mail or text
  • You can view the live crowd occupancy remotely and locally
  • You can see total people in each room, floor, and the entire building
  • You can view the occupancy data on a digital dashboard screen
  • You can review historical crowd occupancy for future events
  • You can check up on real-time crowd counts to ensure health and safety compliance
  • Assign warnings and alerts when crowd capacity reaches near the limit
  • Your network systems can exchange crowd occupancy data over a secure server
  • Count exact number of leaving and entering the venue
  • Count number of people leaving and entering the venue per hour or day
  • Restrict people with credentials entering the event until a specific number of people leave

Customizable Real-time Alerts

You can configure specific real-time alerts in certain scenarios. It means you can customize the total count of people in a defined venue space and add queues about capacity reaching the limit. You can even notify appearances of individuals as per their appearance.

Track Occupancy and Avoid Crowding

You can assign security parameters to VIP areas to avoid security breaches. Visually, you can see on the display total occupancy and analytics options. You can even integrate cloud-based software and create dedicated crowd occupancy reports.

Again, it is the freedom to assign separate alerts when the total capacity reaches near or exceeds the venue capacity that makes all the difference. With a single log-in, you can see the visual dashboard and review the people count virtually. When the crowd occupancy breaches the limit of the venue, the display will show red alerts.

Conclusion

Venue managers no longer have to hire dozens of venue management staff to maintain crowd limits in an event. In fact, event organizers can now review real-time counts and alerts through venue intelligence. It revolves around a combination of tech advancements that makes it easier for event organizers to keep an eye on an event’s total crowd capacity.

In retrospect, real-time awareness helps the event organizers remain proactive about the total crowd capacity. It functions as a prompt intervention at multiple interval points and helps maintain venue operations without crossing crowd occupancy issues. 

Curious to learn more about real-time counts and venue intelligence? Contact Weldon, Williams & Lick today for a free consultation

Use Venue Intelligence to Plan Smarter Events

Venue Intelligence for access control and capacity management

Venue intelligence is knowing who is doing what, when and where, and then drawing conclusions about why. RFID credentials are a simple but essential tool to learn what you need to know about how your guests experience your venue.

Smart homes and the smart things in them are all about what they do: adjust the thermostat, turn the lights on and off, moderate energy usage, reorder something that’s running low in the refrigerator. “Smart” buildings are smart at the level of computers: they help us out through clever and convenient applications of stimulus and response. But they lack actual intelligence. We still need humans for that, and humans need information. Lots of it.

Venue-wide RFID systems provide facility managers what they need to make their building operations truly intelligent. Operators are limited only by their creativity in thinking of what information they want and how they need to lay out their in-venue system to gather it.

Intelligent venues have satisfied customers

Nearly all applications of venue intelligence relate to improving the fan experience. RFID systems provide immediate as well as long-term data about crowd behavior at your venue.

RFID sensors can identify real-time hot spots, areas that have a higher than usual or disproportionate number of attendees at a given time. For example, even though your concession areas are evenly distributed around the venue, they don’t always have an evenly distributed share of concession-buying fans at a given time. Receipts can only give you part of the picture: the sales that happened. They can’t tell you how many people grew frustrated waiting in line and therefore went back to their seats unsatisfied. They don’t tell you how many people stopped in front of one stand before making their purchase from another, a possible indication that there’s something superficially appealing about that stand that doesn’t hold up to customer scrutiny and decision-making.

The intelligence provided by RFID sensors can cue you in to which concessionaires are falling short of their potential: the ones who attract interest but do not convert at the same levels as others; the ones that always seem to get the overflow from other stands, perhaps indicating a logistics or personnel issue; or those that may do better elsewhere in the venue.

How could RFID inform amenity placement decisions?

RFID does not just track bodies moving through space. RFID connects your guests to your venues. You’ll know something about those people who are deciding to make a purchase or not, or the ones who seem just on the edge of trying something new before going back to their old standby.

By connecting each visitor’s RFID credential to your CRM – something very easy to do with RFID-enabled tickets – you’ll have insights into how well your venue is matching your fans.

Maybe it was a mistake to put your top-line food & beverage outlets close to your hard-core supporters’ seating area. On the surface, it made sense to make your A-list offerings convenient to your A-list fans. But they’re there to watch the game, not sample this week’s presentation of locally-sourced chef-prepared meals. Meanwhile, you noticed that your more casual fans are making the trip to the far side of the stadium because they come for the full venue experience, of which the game is only one part of many. They may not attend as regularly and buy as much merchandise, but they are much more likely to share the game, the food and their seats on social media.

Now that you know that fans and foodies are two distinct parts of your audience, you can better cater to both.

In-the-moment venue intelligence for the most pressing fan needs

Data sourced from RFID systems often has immediate and long-term applications. For many fans, few aspects of their in-venue experience has as much immediacy as going to the bathroom. Unlike food and merchandise sales, that’s one thing that will never have in-seat service.

RFID can let you know how long the lines are at the bathrooms in your venue, and you can then relay that information to your fans. Fans can check the venue app to know which restroom has the shortest line before getting out of their seats: maybe it’ll be quicker to go to the one a little farther away. Display boards on the concourse can direct people to the most convenient restroom based on distance and wait-time. They can then decide if it’s worth the trip, or if they should hold out so they don’t miss the start of the bottom of the inning.

RFID connects fan traffic flow to sales and sponsorship revenue

Everyone marvels at the seemingly chaotic but perfectly coordinated movement of a flock of birds. Look closely enough – not with your eyes, but with data – and you might find something just as interesting and much more lucrative about your fans.

Like receipts and concessions, watching the entry and exit points of your facility only gives you part of the picture. RFID sensors can show you how people get around your venue. Are they doing it intelligently?

Perhaps people are still taking the long way around because, in your venue’s early days, there was a poorly designed bottleneck that you have since fixed. But because the attendees have not changed their behavior, they are taking an inefficient route and creating a new bottleneck. And maybe that’s why sales are so low at certain concession areas. Receipt data only tells you that their revenue is low. RFID-sourced fan behavior data tells you that they are converting the same number of passers-by as all the others, they simply do not enjoy the same foot traffic.

Similarly, are as many people as possible seeing your sponsor activation zones? Do you even know how many are?

A sponsor unhappy with their conversion rate may consider not renewing their contract or spending a lot of money in a new effort, when the responsibility lies with the venue. If you can figure that out and make amends before the sponsor does and make demands, you’ll be in a better position with that relationship. And, with the additional fan data, you can better price your sponsorships going forward.

RFID is the necessary link of venue intelligence

Venue intelligence is the next step in facility design and management. It’s as much about integrating existing information as it is gathering new data.

RFID credentials link what you know about your fans to the fans themselves and then to your venue, providing you with individual and aggregate data that you can use in the moment and for planning capital upgrades. Contact WW&L when you’re ready to take your venue from smart to intelligent.

RFID in Sports: Athlete Performance & Event Tracking

RFID Technology in the NFL

RFID in sports has been a literal game changer.

It wasn’t all that long ago when any inventory of commonly used athlete performance and event results tracking equipment included popsicle sticks.

High school cross country runners would cross the finish line and receive a popsicle stick with a number on it: their place among the finishers. Alongside the person handing out the sticks was someone else noting the time the runner finished: “#5: 18:21…. #41: 20:02… #137: 23:10…” The runners would then hand the popsicle sticks to someone else, who would record the athlete’s name, placing and school. The meet staff would then convene to connect all these data points to determine which team won, and post the final individual results and team scores. Waiting to find out how everyone did and who won sometimes took longer than the race itself. Not to mention, half a million cross country runners per year, each doing 4-6 races, add in a large number of low tech (well, at the time, industry-standard) college races… that’s a lot of popsicle sticks.

Today, even the most low budget races use RFID chips to track runners’ times and finish places. A chip or band tied onto the shoelaces or built into the back of their number bib communicates with mats laid across the start and finish lines. These combine for accurate and instant results, with the times reported relative to both the starter’s gun and when each athlete actually crossed the start line.

RFID personnel tracking enables instant, accurate results at scale for high school cross country races with a few hundred athletes to international marathons with 40,000 participants. Throughout the sports performance world, this combination of attributes – instant, accurate, scalable along every dimension – have made RFID technology almost as ubiquitous as sticks, balls and barbells.

RFID personnel tracking for the highest-level movements

Race directors working on a scale of miles and minutes only need one data point resolvable to seconds, maybe tenths of a second. Sports performance coaches, on the other hand, study their athletes moving in all directions over fractions of a meter, so they need sampling rates in the hundredths of a second.

The National Football League was the first major sports league to track player movements using RFID. Since RFID tags can be placed on a runner’s shoe or shirt without impacting their performance, it was quite easy to embed them on a football player.

Each player had an RFID tag nestled into his shoulder pad. The tag communicated with RFID sensors placed around the stadium, producing 3-dimensional positional data hundreds of times per second, which comes together in movement traces that can be visualized and analyzed in real-time by the play-calling coaches and scrutinized for hours by the sports science staff after the game. As quick and agile as the players are with every cut, spin and jump, the sensors catch it all.

RFID sensors can handle anything sport throws or swings at them

The size of RFID sensors gives them an advantage over GPS sensors used in sports training and performance. Particularly in a high impact sport like football, you don’t want anything that could break upon impact or bruise the player. The ability to embed an RFID sensor in a pad eased the technology’s adoption in the NFL.

Another advantage of RFID over GPS is that RFID can work indoors or outdoors. Teams that use GPS sensors don’t need to set up any equipment in their facility – the satellites are always there. But those sensors are only usable if the game is outdoors. What about indoor training facilities or covered stadiums? And what about indoor sports?

All of these factors converge in the National Hockey League: a high-paced, high contact, indoor (except for the Winter Classic) sport.

The NHL announced their RFID tracking ambitions in January 2019. Not only would they be tracking the players, they’d be tracking the puck. Think about it: an RFID sensor can be placed in a chunk of frozen vulcanized rubber that gets slapped around continuously, sometimes being whacked so hard it travels over 90 miles per hour before colliding with a metal goal post or pane of Plexiglass or high-density plastic boards. And yet it’s so inexpensive that teams can go through several pucks each game, allowing any RFID-enhanced puck that goes out of play to go home with the lucky fan who snags it.

Sport performance insights from RFID personnel tracking data

Like so many other areas in Big Data, the more time practitioners spend with RFID-generated sports performance data, the more applications they find.

When the NFL introduced RFID personnel tracking in 2016, they emphasized the player performance and development aspects.

Head coaches talked about how they could better devise and call plays based on the precise insights they could have about a player. If you know a player’s ability to change directions decreases significantly with fatigue, you’re not going to call a play that requires him to sprint 20 meters and make a double-cut inside late in the fourth-quarter, especially if the real-time data is telling your sports science team that he’s already starting to lag a bit.

The sports scientists and performance coaches, then, saw the potential for more individualized training. They would know an athlete’s areas for improvement over the course of a season and from game to game; they would be alerted to any changes that may indicate an increased risk of injury; and they could validate their approach by continuously monitoring his performance. The data also gave them a new route to gaining athlete buy-in: they can show the athlete precisely why they are doing something, starting with in-game data highlighting where and how he could be better.

The NFL also saw a shared component to the RFID tracking data. By making a certain amount of data open to all teams, coaches can better prepare for their opponents and improve their in-game strategies. Looking into the future, they saw the potential for a more data-driven draft day if colleges started adopting and sharing this data.

The National Hockey League sees similar RFID applications on the performance side, and adds an enhanced fan experience to it. They are experimenting with streaming options where each fan can choose what data to display during the game: a box above each player’s head showing his speed or total distance skated, the speed of each pass or shot, or custom leaderboards for whatever you want to know.

Bringing RFID personnel tracking into more sports

The sports world offers one of the most comprehensive use cases for RFID tracking technology. RFID technology touches nearly every aspect of the industry’s operations, from improving the parking experience for the fans to tracking consumer behavior within the arena to teaching a player to make a 60-degree cut one-tenth of a second faster to letting a fan at home display on her screen what she wants to know about her favorite player.

Lots of things you can’t do with popsicle sticks.

Are you a sports industry professional? WW&L is ready to talk about whatever you think RFID can do for your team and organization. Call or e-mail us today to see how we can help you gather the data to earn a few more points or dollars next season.

RFID Personnel Tracking: Know Where They are and When They’re Working

RFID Personnel tracking and contact tracing

The real estate world no longer has the market cornered on “location, location, location.” With RFID personnel tracking, you can know everything from how many people are in your building to their precise location, who they are near and how they move about the space.

Before 2020, most people had never heard of the phrase “contact tracing.” Now it’s almost a way of life. Even if you haven’t downloaded a contact tracing app, chances are you’re more aware of how close you are to people, where you are close to them and for how long. That’s a lot for anyone to keep track of in the back of their mind. If you’re a facility manager, human resources or corporate health and safety professional, you obviously need something more reliable and more timely than a collection of individual memories and reports.

RFID personnel tracking systems can automate contact tracing in workplaces and venues open to the public. Each person entering the facility only needs to wear a lanyard, wristband or badge – all things they are likely wearing anyway – for them to show up in your RFID system. 

Close-range RFID Location Tracking for Contract Tracing and Employee Safety

Ultra high frequency (UHF) systems can monitor employees’ and visitors’ locations to within a few feet. These systems require RFID readers to be placed throughout the facility in order to pick up the signal from each person’s device. Tracking software will let you know the time and proximity of every interaction in your facility. While this may seem intrusive at first glance, location data could be critical in high-risk, outbreak-prone environments like hospitals, long-term care facilities and food processing plants. And it may be the key to insurance coverage for the safe reopening of high capacity and high density venues like stadiums and arenas.

Beyond our current contact tracing concerns, precision RFID location tracking can greatly improve employee safety. In workplaces with a risk of high-impact emergencies, such as chemical plants or refineries, UHF systems can make rescue and evacuation as quick and safe as possible. Your monitoring staff can provide rescue teams with the exact location and identity of anyone remaining in an affected area. This minimizes the amount of time the responders have to put themselves at risk searching for a trapped or incapacitated employee.

Under more normal circumstances, employees crowding in one area on the job could exceed the load limits on a platform, or they may be needlessly exposing themselves to the risks of the work done in that area. The RFID tags could trigger a reminder for them to disperse, and for your health and safety team to target both workplace design and training.

Beyond Pandemics: RFID Personnel Tracking Systems Create Value

At conferences, RFID tracking can let you know which booths attracted the most visitors and the most engagement. Conference organizers can use this data to improve the layout and flow of the event space, while the sales and marketing team can update the price for vendor booths and sponsorship displays based on precise, real-world data of attendee behavior. The conference team can also share this information with their vendors to help them assess their return on investment in your event and plan how they go about future participation.

The attendees themselves can also take a stake in the location data their RFID tags are beaming out: the RFID personnel tracking software can map out their “social network” from the event. By tying this into your attendee management software, you can help them reinforce the relationships they made, while furthering understanding what value you provided and what opportunities you created for your attendees.

Similarly, sports stadiums and concert venues can use close-range UHF tracking to monitor the quality of the customer experience. If one concession area is full while another is almost empty, event staff can guide some people to the less crowded area, or deploy more staff to the overloaded area. By using RFID-enabled wristbands or lanyards (which double as a collectors’ item), you can match customer profiles to their preferences in food, beverage, merchandise and sponsor activations

Scalable RFID Access Controls

Medium- and short-range RFID tracking systems provide less detail than UHF, but still support the essential goals of safety, security and productivity.

These systems are the backbone of access control, whether it’s someone entering or leaving your property or passing from one room to the next.

RFID tracking lets you go beyond unlocking and locking doors to knowing who is actually going where, and for how long. With RFID tracking systems, an unauthorized person will not be able to “piggy back” into a restricted area with someone who has the proper access. You will be alerted to the breach immediately, and can take immediate action. Knowing that the system is in place both to control and monitor access will raise every employee’s level of vigilance around access control. Therefore minimizing the number of times your security and management teams will have to intervene.

Even the most basic RFID badging system will give you real-time data about how many people are on your premises. Down to whatever level of detail you wish to have. You can keep track by room, corridor, concourse, wing, building or campus – it just depends on how many RFID sensors you choose to install. Whether you are closing up for the night or taking a muster during an emergency, RFID access and tracking systems ensure you’ll never leave anyone behind (unless they take off their RFID tag, which would be an entirely different conversation to have).

Bring Precise Location Data into Your Company

RFID personnel tracking systems scale to whatever level of detail you want regarding who goes where on your property. Almost every business group in a company can use this data to improve safety, security and productivity.

“Location, location, location” is not just about your street address any more, but about where people are within that address. If you’re ready to introduce RFID tracking systems into your company or venue, WWL Inc will work with you to determine the right system and build-out to achieve your goals for your location while taking care of everyone inside it. Contact us now to learn more.

RFID vs NFC: What is the Difference?

rfid and nfc technology use and differences

When it comes to communication-based acronyms, they can be easy to get confused. In this case, our article’s focus is RFID and NFC. These two reasonably similar scanning technologies are in a variety of tracking applications. With this in mind, what are the significant differences between RFID and NFC?

The short answer: RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, a one-way communication method at varying distances. NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a version that allows for two-way communication. NFC is not totally contactless, typically requiring devices to be within a few inches of each other. 

In this article, we will be digging into more details about what makes RFID and NFC so different from each other. We will also be getting into some applications you see them used.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a one-way communication method utilizing tags. These tags do not use any electricity and are found using an RFID scanner. The scanner can notice the RFID tags, but they have no additional uses on their own. 

RFID scanners are useful because you can also scan them at a distance of several feet. That makes them incredibly useful for scanning parking tags, as the entrance gate can open as the correct tags approach. As you may expect, this is what makes RFID different from NFC. 

The frequency level dictates RFID’s distance:

  • Low frequency (LF) is the shortest
  • High frequency (HF) is a medium distance
  • Ultra-high frequency (UHF) can go up to ten feet.

LF and HF ranges are relatively limited, typically within a few inches. UHF is more appropriate for long-range applications, as this frequency can scan out several feet. Neither of the above options is inherently better than the other. The only difference is in the distance, which makes RFID appropriate for a variety of applications.

RFID tags also come in two different forms of transponders:

  • Active tags 
  • Passive tags

Active tags are unique among RFID tags because they are continually transferring a signal out. That means as the active RFID tag approaches a scanner, the scanner recognizes the signal being transmitted. While you might be worried about battery life with active tags, RFID tags’ battery life is a decade.

Passive RFID tags do not have any battery, so they last much longer. As a result, these last much longer than active tags. Passive tags take their power from the available scanner. Passive tags are also far smaller, allowing them to be less noticeable. 

How Is RFID Used?

RFID is best for keeping tabs on your assets. For example, RFID can be used to track more expensive items in a retail environment. So if someone decides to stuff a PS5 in their shirt, the RFID tag will cause alarms to go off.

As a result of the passive usage, RFID tags are also great for the supply chain management. Suppose you need to find out whether some of your supplies have passed through a checkpoint. In that case, RFID tags are an inexpensive option for tracking your inventory’s location. 

UHF RFID can scan for things several feet away. Because of this, they are great for parking structures and lots where someone isn’t actively patrolling them. Typically, you purchase a tag to place on the front of your car, and you use that tag to gain access to their parking. 

Below are a couple of other examples of what you can use RFID tracking for:

What Is NFC?

Near Field Communication (NFC) is born of the same technology like RFID. The most significant difference comes with peer-to-peer communication. Rather than the scanner receiving or sending information, both ends can receive and give up information. 

NFC is also only usable at short-range communication. As a result, NFC technology needs to be incredibly close to each other. Your smartphone uses NFC technology for a variety of applications we will get into later. 

NFC typically comes in two different modes: 

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P)
  • Card emulation

Card emulation settings on your NFC device emulate the usage of credit or debit cards. As a result, this allows people who would typically forget their credit cards to have an additional payment method. This also allows for contactless payment, which reduces the spread of germs. 

P2P communication allows you to share information between two different smartphones. Suppose you have ever seen the setting on your phone to communicate with nearby devices based on proximity. By merely locating your phones nearby each other, you can send images and other documents. 

NFC communications do not have to be limited to smartphones. As smart technology is installed into every aspect of our lives, we will (and currently are) seeing more applications.

How Is NFC Used?

We’ve already mentioned the usage of smartphone applications. NFC applications are most popular in contactless payment and data transfer. 

Given that data comes in many forms, you can also use NFC to use the same applications. This means you can feasibly play the same game or see the same schedule on each of your phones. Data, in this case, refers to any shared experience on your phone. 

You can also use it for a variety of other applications:

  • Data transfer of instructions from a smartphone to a smart device.
  • Unlocked router by having your smartphone transfer the password
  • Having a chip under your skin that transfers health data to a doctor’s smart device 

Bluetooth vs. NFC

People are often comparing NFC and Bluetooth due to their similar applications. You pair devices, they communicate P2P, so why should I bother with NFC when Bluetooth is more popular?

Bluetooth may have an allowance for longer distances, but NFC requires less power and faster speed. You cannot transfer payments via Bluetooth with greater ease because each person would take about a minute to connect to a Bluetooth payment

FAQs

What frequencies are RFID and NFC at?

NFC systems are on 13.56 MHz, which is the same as high-frequency RFID waves. Low-frequency RFID waves are at around 125 kHz, while UHF RFID varies from 868-930 MHz.

How Secure Is NFC?

Typically speaking, payment information is encrypted between the two connections. An incredibly committed hacker can get access to the data. To prevent this, keep the devices active only for the period that you need them. 

Which is better, RFID or NFC?

Neither is better; RFID and NFC are used in different ways. RFID is great for tracking your assets and allowing the right people inside. NFC is great for transmitting information between two locations.

Can NFC read RFID?

If the two are at the same frequency (HF), RFID can read certain tags. Given that an NFC is both a scanner and a passive object built together, they can work together. As a result, NFC scanners can also scan some passive tags.

What’s the difference between passive and active tags?

Active tags are continually transmitting a signal to RFID scanners. Passive tags do not release any information. Instead, passive tags gather their energy and information from active scanners for limited communication.

Final Thoughts on Differences of RFID and NFC

RFID and NFC both use similar communication styles. However, they have incredibly different types of applications. For this reason, neither can be deemed more useful than the other unless you narrow their usage down to specific applications.

NFC is great for P2P applications. You can use them to transfer data between smartphones. They are most often used in contactless payment methods, but are not truly considered contactless.

RFID is great for asset tracking, so you can know where your inventory is. Ultra-High Frequency options also can control and grant access, among other extraordinary things.

While the two have a similar general idea, their usage is almost entirely different. 

RFID Technology is the Future of Marketing. Here’s Why.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology creates data and experiences with contactless marketing actions. In other words, RFID technology allows you to safely meet your consumers where they are. RFID technology marketing strategies include improving social flow, reinventing experiences, and better visual branding or sponsor representation.

 Here are the reasons why your marketing team needs a RFID credential-based program for your next event:

 

RFID Technology in Marketing Helps Promote and Maintain Social Distancing

Nobody likes waiting in a long line or being overcrowded like a pack of sardines. While coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing extra space is critical.

RFID credentials can help resolve overcrowding and capacity issues by collecting data of heavily trafficked areas. RFID access control systems can manage densely populated areas in your venue. Easing up your operations as a result. 

Imagine a contactless way to reach guests overcrowding an already congested concessions line. An RFID technology marketing strategy could inform guests that nearby options have similar products and a shorter wait. Your brand can directly reduce potential pain points for guests and offer an upsell. 

What if you could inform guests of capacity percentages of exhibits in real time, like this example from STARK RFID? Guests would make their own informed decisions when to explore different spaces, creating a smoother flow of traffic. RFID access control can act as gatekeeper, allowing individuals to enter areas only as capacity guidelines allow. This transparency and measured approach to safety gains unparalleled trust towards a brand.

In short, the immediate data of who, what, when and where will have your marketing team salivating.

Stop Reacting and Start Interacting with RFID Technology in Marketing

We’ve all received those “Thanks for showing up! Did we live up to your expectations?” emails, but have you ever seen a digital sign thanking you personally as you left an event? How about your “walkout song” playing as you enter a suite? Consumers are demanding more personalized experiences with brands. RFID credentials offer a unique opportunity to exceed those expectations. Using RFID marketing techniques, brands will interact with guests in an inimitable way throughout their entire experience, creating memories that are evergreen.

In example, RFID credentials supply your marketing team with live data. This data helps to stop reacting and instead start interacting with consumer behavior. Credentials can track the moment when a patron entered a line to when they left. RFID marketing could be as simple as sending a push-notification prompting product and service rating. All the while gathering key data for future operations.

In the case of a negative experience, compensation is easily deployed. Or, a team member can locate the guest to solve the issue face to face. Think of the service impact of being able to say, “Would you like to speak to a manager?” before they even need to ask.

For positive experiences, RFID marketing makes impact during key celebratory moments– “Touchdown! Let’s celebrate together. Grab a beer on us at main concessions.” Your marketing team can see when patrons visited key exhibits with RFID personnel tracking. This presents the opportunity to create a call to action. For example, encourage guests to submit their organic content from an exhibit. This user generated content can be redistributed on your brand’s social platforms.

RFID Credentials Offer Premium Visual Branding and Sponsor Representation

Like gold medals, branded high quality credentials are virtually never discarded. The sharp design and “cool factor” of VIP credentials combined with the perks of RFID user experience make for a powerful souvenir. This is a front and center branded consumable that will be shared and reposted across countless social accounts.

And, as all great marketers know, the best branding is through storytelling. RFID technology is a gamechanger for any marketing team because it allows you to narrate the consumer’s story with them. Most importantly, this technology is an opportunity to interact with guests during a visit. However, RFID tracking abilities also provide real data on how many eyes reached a specific space, and how long, or how, those people interacted within it.

In conclusion, the best sponsorships offer solid ROI. The endless abilities of RFID credentials create true investment opportunities. This helps fortify the grounds of a lasting partnership. In other words, the increasing data and capabilities of this technology will have your sponsors drooling (and paying for!) more.

Interested in implementing an RFID credential management solution for your brand?

WWL, Inc., is the leading provider of admission, access control and data management solutions for any industry. Contact us today to start telling your brand’s story through RFID marketing.

Top 5 Benefits of RFID Automatic Parking

Fans don’t enter a venue when they walk through the door: they enter it when they turn onto your property. The first and last attendee experience you control is your parking lot. RFID automatic parking systems benefit your venue’s financial, operational and marketing goals by improving the fan experience, security, revenue and costs. 

 

vehicle parking system using RFID
RFID based automatic car parking system

1. RFID Parking Tags Enable a Seamless Fan Experience

Knowing how important first impressions are for memories of places and events, something as mundane as parking can have an outsize role in a fan’s impression of your facility or event.

RFID parking systems smooth out many of the inefficiencies of venue parking. Attendees with an RFID decal on the window or parking tag on their rearview mirror barely need to slow down as they enter and exit your parking lot. Coming in, they don’t need to stop, press the button and get the ticket. On the way out, they will no longer get stuck behind that one driver who seemingly forgot that he needed to pay, and spends what seems like an eternity digging out his wallet and counting the cash. Better yet, smart parking systems using RFID ensure that no attendee has to worry about being “that guy” themselves – the tag that got them in is the tag that gets them out, seamlessly and efficiently.

This eliminates a common chokepoint and potential source of frustration or negativity as your fans enter and leave your venue. 

Now if only you could do something about the traffic on the roads.

 

2. Collect More Data and do the Right Things With It

A common concern, and sometimes an objection, to any new piece of technology is “What are you going to do with my data?” That’s a valid question, and your answer should be: “Make your experience better.”

When someone enters your parking lot with an RFID tag, you know it. That’s great for security, but it’s also great for hospitality. When fans arrive, you can text them with up-to-date information on promotions or pre-game activities, and direct them to the least crowded entry points. If an arriving driver is a season ticket holder or VIP, the RFID tag lets you know that they are only minutes away. Now you can welcome them with their regular food or drink order waiting for them when they reach their seat.

The smart parking system using RFID data also lets you learn more about your facility’s infrastructure. You may find that certain entrances or exits are being used more than others. This may tell you something you didn’t know about where your fans are coming from and how they move through your venue. And, if you notice long-term trends, it may be the basis for improving the large-scale transportation and parking infrastructure on and around your property.

 

3. RFID Parking Systems Enhance Safety & Security

RFID parking controls mean you always know who is on your property (or at least whose cars are there). After an event, this information can help you determine the appropriate staffing levels as you gradually close up for the night.

Knowing how many cars remain and the identity of the drivers can help you identify possible safety or security incidents, or simply a chance to once again enhance a customer experience: the owners of any cars remaining after a certain amount of time can receive a text checking in to see if they are OK and require any assistance.

In the case of crime, a severe weather event or terrorism, the data provided by an RFID based automatic parking system could be a matter of lives, legal investigations, liability and millions of dollars. Knowing who was on your property and when can enable close cooperation with law enforcement and insurance companies seeking to understand what happened, and whether your venue did everything that you could to meet your duty of care.

4. RFID Tags Can Open New Connections for a Greater ROI

Sports fans and concert attendees like souvenirs. Everyone knows this, but over the last 10 years the move to digital ticketing has cost fans one of the oldest souvenirs in the industry: actual tickets! A ticket would get you into the event, but the real value could come later as that ticket stub became physical proof that you were there for the band’s final concert, for the extra-innings walk-off home run, the historic shut out or the game that people would talk about for years to come.

RFID parking hang tags are both a contactless technical innovation and a physical souvenir for your ticketholders. At the end of the season they may hang their old tags in their office or man cave so they can show their friends that, yes, they were there.

Not only do tags give you a longer-term physical presence with your fans – RFID tags offer that presence to your partners and sponsors as well. Teams and venues can sell space on the parking tag to a sponsor who also wants to be part of each fan’s ongoing experience. The tag can have a QR code for special offers on the sponsor’s website, or the tag itself could be reusable coupon for a local vendor, much like ticket stubs used to be.

Each year or season is an opportunity to use the RFID parking tags to project your property’s brand and partnerships. This opens the door for new revenue streams as well as all the benefits that come from long-term, physical connection points with your fans.

5. Reduced Personnel & Overhead Costs with RFID

Smart parking systems using RFID reduce the number of staff you need on event days. Drivers with RFID parking tags do not need to interact with staff on the way in or out, so the wider the adoption of the system, the fewer parking lot attendants you need. That, in turn, minimizes the need for and expense of parking lot attendant booths.

On the back end, the automatic data collection and cashless payment reduces the amount of administrative work that goes into operating your lot: less manual data entry and analysis, payment processing and inventory management. 

Ready to Learn More About RFID Parking Systems?

WWL, Inc., provides every aspect of RFID parking control systems, from the physical infrastructure to the tags themselves. Visit our RFID based automatic car parking system website for quick, competitive pricing. Or, contact us here to work with one of our experts on a custom solution for your venue, just as we’ve been doing for the last 120 years (not all of them with RFID, of course). 

5 Reasons You Need to Use NFC Technology with Your Printed Tickets

5 Reasons You Need to Use

NFC Technology with Your Printed Tickets


 

Whether you’re organizing a 25th anniversary event or an inaugural occasion (if you are reading this) then you are either trying to give potential attendees access to create a memory through an experience, or you have somehow found your way here through some form of click-tempting marketing. Either way, we are happy you are here and invite you to explore with us!

So, what is NFC Technology?

I feel it is important to explain some of the basics of NFC…

In short: NFC Technology is the high frequency transfer of data by touch integration or from short distances.

Here is a more detailed answer: Near field communication, or NFC for short, is an offshoot of radio-frequency identification (RFID) with the exception that NFC is designed for use by devices within close proximity to each other. Devices using NFC may be active or passive. A passive device, such as an NFC tag, contains information that other devices can read but does not read any information itself. Think of a passive device as a Ticket. Others can read the information, but the Ticket itself does nothing except transmit the info to authorized devices. Active devices can read information and send it. An active NFC device, like a smartphone, would not only be able to collect information from NFC tags, but it would also be able to exchange information with other compatible phones or devices and could even alter the information on the NFC tag if authorized to make such changes.

All this and more on NFC technology at: http://nearfieldcommunication.org

So, how does this apply to your event and allowing your attendees access into it?

1 – Security

Security in ticketing is a top concern for all event organizations, whether it is brought to their radar or not. From consumer payment methods, organization costs of doing business to integrity of your ticket’s face value – all of this can be summed up to the value of security.

NFC uses encrypted data to share and use information. Furthering your level of comfort, NFC is based on the existing contactless payment and ticketing standards that are used every day by people across the globe. These accepted standards make it possible to not only have a contactless operation i.e. requirements of antennas, but also rates of data transfer and the formatting of that data and how it will transfer. This provides a base for contactless readers and tags for accepting NFC transactions, providing a secure environment.

Imagine that level of technology in your printed season ticket or backstage laminate essentially eliminating ticket fraud incidents… Now that’s a beautiful thing.

2 – Speed

A magical view to an Event Manager, Box Office Manager or Premium Seating Manager is seeing event attendees seamlessly enter their event when the doors open.

Now envision this with me: Your well-trained staff of Ushers and Ticket Scanners taking their device and tapping the attendee’s tickets (without a bright red laser coming out of the top and moving it all around to scan a barcode) and seeing a calm green light flash.

Continuing this thought, imaging that is your premium season member with their beautiful Season Credential around their neck. They don’t have to remove their credential from their neck or bend over to reach a scanner. The Usher reads the bottom of the credential and seeing that green flash… Wow that feels good right?

Access control plays a significant role in your attendees first impression of your event and it is crucial to make sure you can provide a seamless and quick point of entry. NFC provides a simpler way to achieve this and is downright faster than QR or Barcodes.

Watch out here, I have some details for you! Let’s segue this idea of a speedy check-in process to breaking down how an NFC tag is “scanned.” Near Field Communication utilizes electromagnetic radio fields and is an offshoot of radio-frequency identification (RFID) with a major difference. NFC is made specifically to share information with devices and tags that are in close proximity of each other. This means that it will only make a single scan when a tag and reader are within 1 – 3 inches from each other. Giving you a secure single scan at one time. There are other forms of RFID technology that can apply to ticketed events, but that is for another day.

3 – Data

Lets face it. DATA IS KING and we all know it. Here is a tidbit of knowledge for you. One Google server farm is 980,000 square feet… or 22.5 acres… OR 17 Football fields.

So, data is important, and NFC makes it possible to acquire more of it. With event ticketing there are some very specific data items you can gather with NFC: Foot Traffic, Time Spent in Entertainment Areas and Consumption (more on this in a minute).

With the ability to follow event foot traffic, you can see how your attendees are getting to where they are spending their time and lead your analytics and customer experience to focus on what you are doing right in some areas and where you can improve in others. This leads to a better fan experience for your attendees and gives you the ability to shift your focus and capitalize on the right opportunities.

There are many different ways to analyze and acquire data, NFC creates an avenue for you to secure it.

4 – Payment

One major benefit to the security of NFC is the ability to use it to process payments and store value. Do your fans carry a lot of Cash? Do they carry only Cards? Want to minimize the need for both? With NFC Cash and Cards for your season member or even one-time visitors are a thing of the past. Now, this is something that is dependent on your concession and payment processing practices, but still very relevant.

I find that a short list can be used here to put this into perspective.

Benefits to NFC for payment:

  • Increased Revenue
  • Greater control of transactional data
  • Guests feel safer with no cash being exchanged
  • Reduced theft
  • Consumer Data Collection

We could write so much on the items above, but to make it concise, NFC helps attendees worry less about cost and enjoy the seamless experience of NFC purchasing. The ultimate win here though is that you learn attendee buying habits at the individual level. This gives you the ability to really breakdown the data and capitalize on each person’s experience at your event.

Consider how this will associate an easy and enjoyable purchase experience with your Season Credential or Concert Laminate. Your attendees will build that connection of value and experience with you and their event pass.

 

5 – Customer Experience

Why do people attend an event? – Entertainment. Knowledge. Experiences. Memories. Maybe all of the above…

My assumption here is that you enjoy/love what you do, or you wouldn’t have made it this far into this post. And you want your Customers to enjoy their experiences when they associate themselves with your event.

With NFC technology you can take these four points above and apply it to your event and optimize your fan experience in the direction that best works for you.

So, the ultimate question is WHY use NFC technology with printed product such as Tickets, Event passes, Credentials, etc.

The answer is in the research. RRD has helped us out here to better understand:

“Neuroscientific research explains why people are still attracted to print as a medium. When we read ink on paper, we stimulate four senses (the smell, sound, feel, and sight of the paper). The more senses we stimulate, the more value we put in the content, and the more we retain the information.”

This is true across all generations of people and to break it down into the two largest demographics – we see this difference in millennials and Gen X.

 

The Future – Bringing Print & Technology together

Beneath it all there is a desired result. Bring people together and create memories.

“Millennials use print differently. They use print to complement their digital consumption, whereas older demographics use digital to complement print.”

WW&L has been providing access to fans of all entertainment and experiences since 1898.

Let us help you bring NFC Technology to your printed product and ensure your fans that experience.

River Valley Flood Update


Updated: Friday, June 7th

Our continued gratitude for your concern, thoughts and prayers. The immediate threat is over, our production has not been disrupted and we are helping our community rebuild and repair.    This will take time, as the devastation to not just Fort Smith but the remaining state and our neighboring state of Oklahoma is truly extensive. It is heart-warming to see the swell of volunteers and assistance at local, regional and national levels. 

We do not see a need at this time to post further updates but will certainly do so if the situation changes.   

Thank you.  


Updated: Thursday, May 30th

We have some good news from Fort Smith and surrounding areas.  The city’s storm drainage system upheld during yesterday’s heavy rains, and the Arkansas River is expected to crest early Friday at a lower level than previously anticipated.  A major transportation route into Fort Smith was re-opened on Wednesday morning, which helps with inbound and outbound freight as well as access to work for area residents. 

Our plant is almost at full staffing levels and we have not seen any disruption in operations or ship dates.  Although not out of the woods yet, the risk to our facility has minimized.  As a company, we practice and prepare for disasters.  Our plant is equipped with generators.  We have redundant internet access and a second Fort Smith facility, where we maintain an IT Disaster Recovery site for critical systems.  We maintain inventory levels for major stocks and have individual departmental disaster recovery plans.  In a time like this, it is a relief to know you have a plan that works.  It also reminds us to be diligent in keeping plans updated and current. 

For Fort Smith and surrounding areas, the devastation is truly catastrophic, and our hearts go out to our fellow citizens and residents.  We, like many good neighbors across the state and country, will turn our attention to helping flood victims and our city.  Our thoughts also go to tornado and flood victims in areas across the nation.  We all look anxiously forward to the passing of this major storm system. 


Thank you for your continued thoughts and well wishes. 

To our WW&L Customers and Friends: 

Many of you are aware of the flooding situation in Fort Smith and have called with compassion and concern.   We are monitoring this situation closely and will send email updates to our customer base and post to our website as things evolve.    

Elevation levels for our facility are well above the predicted crest.  We do have many employees impacted and we are encouraging them to stay safe and take care of their families and property.   Staffing remains adequate to handle current production needs.  We do not expect delays in meeting ship dates at this time.

We do not have control over incoming and outbound freight but are in contact with our suppliers and freight carriers.   We have a thirty day supply of stock on hand.  Although the main transportation routes into our city are closed, alternate routes remain open and carriers are utilizing those. 

We thank you for your concern and well wishes, not only for us but for our entire community.  Our customers are our family and we will do everything possible to take care of you during this time. 

Regards,
Tracey Geren
President

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