I recently attended a conference and between brochures, pamphlets, and folders, I amassed quite a bit of print material. Upon viewing the stack, I wondered: Why does information transfer require so much paper? For those who are interested in going green for their own events, here are four ideas to cut down on the paper trail:
1. Use QR codes. Create a QR code and add it into the signage design along with the session title and description. People can then use the QR code readers on their smartphones to review the session handouts online.
You can also encourage attendees to use QR codes to exchange business card information without the actual business card. They can create and print a small QR code to slide into the back of their badge holder. Then, when they turn their badge around, a colleague can scan their code and have access to the same information that would’ve been printed on a business card. You may also want to encourage attendees to download contact applications like Hashable or Bump.
Before the conference, it would be a good idea to let attendees know that QR codes will be used and that they should download a free reader prior to their arrival. If you are directing them to an independent site, make sure it is compatible with all mobile devices, with or without Flash capabilities.
2. Add NFC tags to signage. Several newer phone models currently use Near Field Communication technology, or NFC. If you’ve heard of it, you more than likely associate it with “tap and pay.” But there is quite a bit more that you can do with it. NFC phones can also interact with specially coded tags that can redirect users to a specific website or allow them to exchange business information.
In many cases, NFC tags can transfer information much like QR codes do. But instead of using the phone’s camera to access the information, the user simply taps the tag. Since the number of phones with NFC capabilities is still growing, it would be best to pair the NFC tag with a QR code to ensure that more attendees are able to digitally access the material.
3. Create a virtual shop for resources. For those already familiar with QR codes, you may also be aware how some businesses are using technology to establish virtual shops. Using a special app, people can scan the codes to shop for products, pay for them, and arrange delivery right to their door. Why not use the same idea for conference handouts?
Create large posters with pictures of the materials available for download and a short description of each. When attendees register, they can be directed to the resource wall to download the materials they need for upcoming sessions. Since there will not be a charge for the resources, there will be no need to download another app (other than the QR code reader) to get the resources they want.
There are many more creative ways to streamline an eco-friendly conference. To learn more about going green with technology, contact your foundation’s librarian.
Sophia Guevara is a regular contributor to the Consortium of Foundation Libraries blog.