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Visitor management at trade fairs and events: this is how counting is performed today

Whether at trade fairs, congresses or events, keeping a close eye on the number of guests is essential for organisers. Visitor safety is the overriding goal here. However, measuring the success of the event and the associated marketing activities as well as the planning of future events also need systems, with which the number of visitors can be measured. Trade fair exhibitors benefit from the fact that they can optimally plan their trade fair presence based on this data. New technologies are helping achieve this and, in addition to pure numerical work, have quite a few other talents.

July 2019

Visitor management

Those who plan events and are active as exhibitors at trade fairs want to offer their guests the best possible visitor experience. It helps to know how and where they move or have moved. Technologies for measuring the number of visitors offer new possibilities for perfectly staging events or one's presence at a trade fair. High-quality counting methods also make it possible to analyse visitor peak times and congestion points on site. Knowing these is a central aspect of trade fair marketing in order to support exhibitors in optimising their customers' visits to their stands (the so-called customer experience). Only those who know what their visitors appreciate and like can offer them a good customer experience. Visitor counting and tracking are important data sources for this.

Digital visitor management and more

Large events such as concerts or festivals require reliable visitor management to ensure security on site. New solutions allow real-time visitor flow analysis and control, communication with visitors, emergency deployment management, visitor counting and a signalling system among other things. Organisers receive the data in an app or online database, so they can respond on site.
Thanks to visitor counting and data analysis, exhibitors receive extended information about visitors and their behaviour at their own exhibition stand. Advanced solutions make it possible to filter people who only pass through the stand as well as their own stand personnel out of the number of visitors. Exhibitors thus receive information about visitors in clustered form according to interest and length of stay, and find out whether visitors are only interested in one area of the exhibition stand or several. This enables them to optimise their stand concept and personnel planning at short notice. In addition to direct visitor frequency measurement, companies have a data basis for evaluating marketing campaigns and the entire trade fair presence in the aftermath of the event.


Sensors (2D, 3D) that work with laser, radar, infrared or thermal imaging technology count visitors at trade fairs and events with high accuracy. Even people's walking routes can be recorded contiguously across thousands of square metres. Visitor flows can be identified particularly precisely by recording the heat signatures using thermal image sensors. These data provide information about which areas of the event location are particularly heavily frequented and therefore attractive for visitors. Among other things, hot spot analysis helps manage respective site utilization and associated infrastructure services according to demand, such as increasing the number of information staff at particularly busy locations.

Light barriers

Light barriers are particularly suitable for events or areas with clearly marked entrance and exit areas, such as concert halls or stadiums. Almost perfect counting results can be achieved in these situations using light barriers. The devices are sometimes even installed using wireless connections. The data can also be stored on a USB stick without an Internet connection. A laser beam is the most common method for counting visitors. However, analysis using laser beams is limited to a basic evaluation of the number of visitors, since every interruption of the light barrier is counted—even if a piece of luggage carried by the visitor triggers it, for example.

Wi-Fi trackers

Wi-Fi technologies allow organisers to record their visitors via their mobile devices—provided the visitor consents by way of opt-in. Using these sensors, which are either based on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, organisers can determine the location of the smart phones or other devices.  If only one sensor is placed within the event location, the mere number of visitors is measured. Several sensors can be installed to create a map of the paths taken by visitors. The advantage of this type of visitor tracking system is that the sensors record an exact picture of the guest structure and their behaviour on site. They can record the length of stay and recurring visitors. They can also determine whether visitors enter an area such as a trade fair stand only once or return within a certain period of time. It is also possible to track how they move through an exhibition stand.


Contact-free communication between organisers and their guests is enabled by wristbands with RFID technology, which are used as visitor badges. Once created, they can be used both for access control and for automatic payment procedures during the event. The interesting thing is that NFC technology makes it possible to send visitors personalised content such as reminders of specific presentations or information about the catering services at the event on their smart phones. Exhibitors can thus increase interaction with their customers and attract more attention to their exhibition stand. But this is only the beginning. In conjunction with AI technologies, facial recognition software can trace the movements of visitors even more precisely and extensively. This provides even more detailed information about the customer experience and supports not only the organisers, but also the exhibitors of a trade fair in getting to know their customers even better. You will soon be able to read more about this in a second blog post here.


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