How to Use QR Codes for Events

What is a QR code? A QR code is a high tech barcode. It’s a digital footprint that connects to your web content, flyer, advertising, service, invitation, event, and anything really that you are doing. It’s shown at the door of an event to the marketing attendant. It’s a genius invention that helps with automation of your business, improves your brand, reputation and image of your business, and doesn’t need a lot of technical support.

History of the QR Code

For years, we have been watching checkers at the cash register scan the items we are purchasing. Before that, cashiers had to key in the price manually.

The barcode was patented in 1951 by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver. It was based on Morse code that instead of using dots and dashes, used thin and thick bars. The bar code holds 20 alphanumerical characters in its code.

The barcode wasn’t an instant success, and the first item marked with the Universal Product Code (UPC) was finally scanned at a supermarket in Ohio. This day was actually celebrated and the Marsh Supermarket staff took hours the night before the event to put the bar codes on the items in their store.

The first item scanned was actually a pack of Wrigley chewing gum – so that people could see that no item was too small for a bar code. The store, of course, had to upgrade their cash registers that had the scanning ability to scan the bar code. The bar code had to be readable from any direction and be read quickly. It had to be read accurately as well with a six sigma rating for errors.

Kmart was the first big superstore to utilize the barcode followed by Walmart. By 2004, almost 90% of the top Fortune 500 companies were using it.

Companies that used the barcodes contacted one of the companies that created barcode readers, Denso Wave Incorporated, to see if additional characters could be added to the barcodes. With 2D technology, more info could be added, and Masahiro Hara, in charge of the QR Code development got a brilliant idea. He could use positioning of the different marks of the code to make the QR code more accurately read and carry more information. This way any bar on the code could be angled at 0 degrees up to 360 degrees. The positioning gave them much greater coding ability and up to 7,000 numerals could be read. It was read more than 10 times faster than the traditional bar code. Because of the top speed, for response, QR stands for Quick Response.

The QR Code became widespread in Japan first as a business innovation and allowed mobile phones (Android (operating system) or iphone iOS) to have a QR Code-reading feature. This way they could access a website or use their smartphone to scan a coupon image that would then be read by the seller. This is usually done with a mobile app. And now, the QR code is indispensable for businesses. It’s part of everyday life.

How QR Codes are Used for Events and Festivals

QR codes are appreciated by your customer base at a large festival. Whenever there are hundreds of people arriving at your event that need to register or show that they paid for the ticket (admission), flashing a QR code takes only seconds compared to a 3 to 5-minute check-in business process. Some marketers depend on these codes because they say that it will impress your audience, and it doesn’t need any contact. Others say they prefer the contact, which is more human-like, and they want that for their audience of customers.

Event management staff will tell you that QR codes give you a competitive advantage in your event efforts. This tool helps not only with planning and strategizing every aspect of the event, including event registration. 

If you are tracking the code downloads, you will know ahead of time how many people are considering attending your event. If only 10 people downloaded the code a week before the actual date of the event, you are going to need to do a lot of extra advertising and promotion, even television and radio advertising. Some serious problem-solving on the part of your event management staff will have to occur to get the registration number up.

Here is a list of some of the other ways you can use a QR Code:

  1. Posters, Billboards, Brochures

You might use posters with the QR code on them and place them in different strategic spots in town and then use tracking to see exactly where your market is. It’s a way to use personalization more in your marketing. 

A major restaurant or beverage chain such as Starbucks may allow you to put posters at their locations. You might even consider putting the QR code on bus billboards or at the different bus or subway station stops.

QR codes do take a little planning. You will want to add it to your flyers and marketing materials, including invitations, email marketing and wherever you think it may help with event registration. Even a video on the event can have the QR code at the end where customers can take their screen shot of it.

  1. Management Tracking

Using QR codes as a tool for your planning of marketing through the entire process is excellent because its use far exceeds how the process was done in the past – develop your strategy, then run it, and hope for the best. QR codes give your management team a good way to monitor what the marketing team is doing. They can evaluate the results of your marketing team’s efforts in real time, simply by accessing the world wide web for the results. Your event registrations tell the story of the effectiveness of your campaign. The QR codes ar real-time computing used to your advantage. They may be used for feedback after your event, to give management of your event a heads up on the event final update.

  1. Self-Service

QR codes are also used for self-service, say at grocery stores, or at your event if you think of a unique way to use them for the self-service. They may be added to a business card, a spreadsheet, a wedding invitation, a landing page, a newspaper, a downloaded pdf, anything you are planning on printing, and all of your learning materials.

  1. Customers Can be Hands Free

QR codes are indispensable to product launches, conferences, seminars, fundraising events, trade shows, social meet-ups, and even music festivals. You can use it to pay for the event as well. This is a huge advantage because people don’t want to carry purses with them; they want to go hands free with the exception of their Android phone. This aspect of it should be considered by your engagement marketing staff when they write the emails and social media announcements of your event. Paying ahead of time for the event is actually said to be speedier than the usual processing via Visa and Mastercard.

     5. Security at Events

QR codes may also be used for private events so that an individual can’t sneak into the event and then cause havoc. Only guests that have the QR codes would be allowed at this event, and all guests would be given notice of this ahead of time before the event. This is one way the airlines uses them to prevent potential terrorists from gaining access to flights.

  1. Product Demonstrations

QR codes may also be used for product demonstrations, with sales thereafter, either in the community or at a specific event. Or they may be on merchandise at the event registration table.

How to Create a QR Code

While initiating a QR code into your business, make sure your privacy policy explains how you will use the codes.

To create the code, you will need a QR Code Generator. Access this web page or this web page to create your own unique code. 

But first you should know the difference between static QR code and dynamic QR code. Static QR code cannot be altered. It also does not allow you to track data of the scans. However, with dynamic QR code, you can track the number of scans, the location, and the device type that was used to store the QR code (the Smartphone type).

You will also have to know the purpose of your QR Code. Do you want it to link people to the registration form for your event? If so, the next question to ask yourself is will your marketing staff edit the QR code that will then let the customer download the app.

You will then put the QR Code on a web page on your website (or product, newspaper, etc.). Your customers will take a screenshot of the code with their smartphone and then show that code to the attendant at the event. The attendant will have a device that reads the QR code and the customer will be allowed access to the event.


Start using QR codes now if you haven’t already! Once you do, you will never look back! And your customers will love you for it.

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