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Best Practices for Protecting Attendee Privacy

In the first post in our three part series on attendee privacy and venues, we tackled the many ways in which attendee concerns over the growing emphasis on data collection and tracking activities in the events industry can have a direct, negative impact on venues.

But it’s not all bad news! Now that we’ve identified the issue, we can get on with a discussion about some of the practical steps a venue can take to navigate these often-rough waters successfully.

First up? Good old-fashioned PR.

Spin It To Win It

Much like the common reasoning for collecting attendee data in the first place, position your involvement in the data collection plans of event organizers and exhibitors in your venue as a value-added service.

Examples of this strategy abound but for a specific reference, check out the first few sentences of Google’s Privacy Policy:

“There are many different ways you can use our services – to search for and share information, to communicate with other people or to create new content. When you share information with us, for example by creating a Google Account, we can make those services even better – to show you more relevant search results and ads, to help you connect with people or to make sharing with others quicker and easier.”

See what they’re doing there? You know and I know and they know (and they know we know!) that the bottom line is that data collection is in their best interest – they even include two words at the end of a long sentence that say so –but they’re pitching the user experience side of the coin pretty hard.

The same basic strategy can work for venues that want to have a hand in the data collection plans of their clients. Coincidentally, the lack of an ulterior motive and the fact that what’s in the best interest of a venue actually does line up with the best interests of organizers and exhibitors in this respect lends a lot more credibility to this claim than is typically the case.

Make An Offer They Can’t Refuse

So what exactly can venues offer clients on this issue that will add some real or perceived value to their experience? Since you will have already sought legal counsel to ensure your own compliance, the simple act of comparing your clients’ plans against what you know is itself, a valuable service.

Here’s a few additional useful recommendations you can make that could protect your clients from potentially sticky situations:

  • Include an opt-in as part of the registration process
  • Display signage at check-in to remind attendees about data collection activities and provide opt-out information through signage at check-in
  • Include a consent release for images and/or video that might be taken at the show as part of the registration paperwork

    • This serves the dual purpose of protecting all involved from privacy or fair use disputes, while also creating an opportunity for exhibitors or organizers to use
      photos and videos from the event as fodder for social media or other marketing materials. Win-win.

  • Provide an easy opt-out

What’s Plan B?

As anyone who works in the events industry knows, there’s always going to be something that doesn’t go according to plan. If you really want to be sure you’ve got all your bases covered, don’t forget to ask what happens when things go off track. For example: Let’s say a show is planning to make use of RFID-enabled badges for tracking purposes. Are there plans in place to print a new badge without a tag for attendees who object on the spot?

Having thought through the possible bumps in the road long before they pop up at the registration desk on the day of the show is well worth the effort for any show organizer. Communicate the benefits for all involved up-front and you’ll find yourself in a perfect position to gain from valuable attendee data now and in the future.

Don’t miss the final post in our three part series on attendee privacy and venues next month, when we’ll discuss the particular challenges associated with drones.

Check back next month for the concluding post in our three part series on attendee privacy and venues.

This blog was originally posted on Social Tables.

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