Barcodes have been around for decades. We take them for granted on our cereal boxes and soup cans. But now, a related type of code — the quick-response (QR) code — has made its way beyond our groceries and consumer goods. Suddenly, we’re seeing little black-and-white boxes of pixels pop up in magazines, brochures, and even on our phones.

Digital QR codes are made possible by two bits of technology:

  1. The device’s camera, which acts like a scanner when reading a QR code
  2. An app that converts that image into usable information by reading the code

It makes sense that QR codes have made their way onto our phones and other devices. More and more, we turn to our phones when we want quick information on a subject, and most new smartphones come with a built-in QR reader app installed. 

Which brings us to events.

QR codes aren’t just a trick for making your event seem more cutting edge. They have some real practical applications for event organizers.

Where to use QR codes for events

QR codes support your events all the way from the marketing and planning stage through the event itself. Here are a handful of practical applications:

  • In your printed collateral: Printed matter goes out of date quickly. Perhaps you designed and printed your brochure or flyer before finalizing the event schedule, speakers, or vendor list. By including a QR code in your printed materials, you give attendees an easy way to get up-to-date information. They simply scan the QR code to access the latest news about your event.
  • In large-format advertising: If you’re promoting your event with a billboard, train, or bus advertisement, including a QR code allows people to scan quickly for further information. The ad gets them intrigued. The QR code draws them into your site.
  • To make check-in faster: Speed up your event check-in process by using QR codes on paper or electronic tickets. Each participant has a unique QR code, so you can easily track who’s arrived and help prevent ticket fraud.
  • On participant badges: Including a QR code on participant badges gives them an easy way to exchange contact data simply by scanning with their smartphones. This modern replacement for business cards facilitates networking at B2B and other types of events.

How to create QR codes for events

Now that you’re excited about integrating QR codes into your event — how does it work? It’s actually very easy to generate QR codes. Here are three ways to do so:

  • To create a QR code that will send people to a web address, use a URL shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl. Once you get the shortened link, simply add .qr to the end. A QR code instantly pops up on the screen. Print it or take a screenshot, then add it to any of your marketing materials.
  • To create a QR code to check people in, use an event ticketing or registration software like Eventbrite. When people register for your event, a QR code will instantly be generated as their ticket. Then, you can use the free Eventbrite Organizer app to check them in using the QR code.

Regardless of how you create your QR codes for events, there are a few best practices to keep in mind for best results.

Tips for using QR codes for events

  • Test the code: Always test your QR code to make sure it actually works. You want to confirm the code doesn’t just scan correctly, but that the place it takes them to makes sense to the user.
  • Think mobile first: Make sure whichever webpage you point to is mobile-optimized. Since your audience is definitely coming from a phone, you don’t want to lose their attention or break their trust by giving them a website that’s hard to read or use on small screen.
  • Add URL just in case: If someone does not have a QR reader and wants a workaround, adding an alternative URL to your printed matter is a nice gesture.
  • Keep the link alive: You might be using the QR code to generate excitement about a one-time event. But if it appears on a t-shirt, poster, or other type of “permanent” object, your URL needs to be permanent, too. Perhaps you change the information on the page to promote your next event, or use it to show off photo memories of your event.

Ready to use QR codes for your event? Create your event on Eventbrite to instantly generate QR codes for your tickets and bring your event into the digital age.

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