Reuse, Recycle

Plastic name badges are far less damaging to the environment than the jet fuel burned to get your attendees to town; nevertheless, it's worth the effort to recycle or reuse them. Every little bit helps, and it sends a positive message about your organization's values. Bins at conference exit points will collect a good percentage of your attendees' tags. And a reminder in the conference brochure and on the Web site will increase participation. Another environmental tip: Print name badge inserts on recycled, post-consumer-waste paper.

Wear It Well

Attendees tend to prefer wearing name badges on lanyards — rather than using pins, clips, or adhesives — to keep their names front and center. The only problem with lanyards, however, is that the badges sit, well, front and center. Etiquette suggests wearing a name badge near your right shoulder, because the eye naturally travels there when shaking hands. Lanyards should be adjusted so that the badge is visible without the viewer having to lower his eyes.

Sell the Space

Name badges and lanyards are some of the most visible, sought-after sponsorships, but if you don't sell the space, you can definitely jazz it up. Web sites such as lanyardsupply.com and lanyardstore.com offer a surprising array of styles, from zebra print to tartan plaid to hibiscus flowers to your company logo woven into the fabric.

RFID Badges

Radio-frequency identification tags are expanding the role of badges well beyond communicating attendees' names and company affiliations. RFID tags are tiny computer chips inserted into a badge that, like a barcode, can hold a database of information about the wearer. Significantly, however, RFID tags can be read by a transceiver without a direct line of sight, which a barcode scanner needs. The tags allow a meeting organizer to track attendees' movements and better understand how they are experiencing an event. For example, a planner could see how many attendees entered a seminar, how long each stayed, and when they left. RFID is also a rich lead-retrieval tool and can be used to manage traffic flow around a trade show floor in real time: For example, if the data show few attendees visiting Row Z, that's the place to hold a drawing or to move the coffee station.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, it's … If you really want to go high-tech, nTag LLC, New York, (www.ntag.com) offers an electronic badge system that promotes networking, holds the conference agenda, and can be used to track attendance at sessions. In addition, the badge makes it easy for exhibitors to electronically capture lead information and works as an audience polling device. Oh, and it also displays your name.

BADGE (noun) 1. an identifying tag worn by meeting participants; sometimes called a name tag.

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