Event Session Tracking


Education is the number one reason that people attend events. That’s according to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events from their “Decision to Attend” study. Of the nearly 9,000 participants, 92 percent stated that education was their primary reason for going to an event.

As if there wasn’t enough pressure to provide the most innovative and interesting sessions. However, it’s one thing to think you are delivering the sessions that your attendees desire, and it is an entirely different thing to know you are. It’s the foot traffic that tells the tale. If attendees show up for a session – and stay – you know that session is valuable.

In the past, organizers needed to rely on volunteers stationed at the door to perform a headcount or hope that the attendees themselves would make use of the sign-up sheet. Both are pretty unreliable methods. Fortunately, technology has caught up with the session-tracking needs of event planners.

Why Track Session Attendance

Measure Your Investment

It takes a significant investment to put together an engaging session, not to mention an entire event. That doesn’t just mean money, although many speakers do expect to be paid, but also time researching the right topics and the best people to address them. With event session tracking in place, you can know immediately how many people are visiting sessions compared to how many originally signed up. This will give you a definitive measurement of which sessions attendees are visiting, where they are spending most of their time, and the ones they are avoiding so you can judge the value of your investment accurately.


Understand Attendee Interests

It’s worth repeating; 92 percent of attendees say that education is their top priority. If you do not generate interest at registration by providing the right sessions, you risk those potential attendees going elsewhere. By tracking sessions, you will know precisely how many people visited a session and when they left, meaning you can determine attendee level of engagement because you will know much long each attendee spent at each session. The analytics will also show you who the first-time visitors are as well as returnees. This information will also help you decrease wait times, cut down lines, and plan for seating needs.

Determine Topics for Future Events

Understanding the level of attendee interest is essential in planning for future events. Knowing average dwell times and the number of return visitors can help planners schedule sessions that will generate the highest interest. Additionally, you can accurately gauge which sessions will be in high demand and to determine the size of venues and breakout rooms for these gatherings.

Make the Best Use of Available Budget

Sessions with low attendance and ones where people leave early are, to be blunt, not valuable. They take up precious space and resources that could be allocated toward more attendee-energizing activities. Session tracking provides you with the necessary data to ensure you spend on topics that will generate the most significant interest and ROI.

Accurately Grant Education and Professional Credits

Tracking and allocating the correct level of Continuing Education Units (CEU) or Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits is an important task. Session attendees frequently need that information delivered promptly to retain or obtain compliance in their profession. Session tracking technology makes the process of gathering and accurately reporting this information significantly more straightforward.

How to Track Session Attendance

As previously discussed, the old ways of counting heads or relying on a check-in sheet are long in the past. Today, there are much better options for tracking sessions.

One of the most popular is an RIFD badge scanner. This technology works by embedding a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip in an attendee’s badge (or wristband, another wearable, etc.). The data on the chip can be accessed whenever it is near a reader device, such as a badge scanner.

Other tracking options replace the badge scanner with beacons dispersed throughout a venue. These beacons use Bluetooth technology to continuously send and receive signals from attendees as they go about their day. The beacons need to be professionally positioned to ensure they cover the entire area, and the cost is more than merely using scanners. However, since information is being processed several times a second, they do provide a more holistic view of the entire event.

Additionally, both solutions have benefits beyond session tracking. For example, the check-in process is greatly simplified. No more fumbling around for physical tickets, an attendee’s ticketing information is now contained entirely in the chip in their badge. Of course, the badge will need to be delivered before the event begins.


This ease of tracking can also facilitate networking by making it easy for attendees to exchange contact information.

These solutions can also help to minimize the amount of paper you use at your event. Brochures and marketing materials, even business cards, can all go digital thanks to the ease of attendees tracking. By knowing exactly which session someone is attending, you can send presentation materials directly to their mobile device. 

Finally, any gamification elements you wish to include are easily tracked with this technology. Not only can the games be run, but real-time leaderboard tracking can occur on mobile devices and digital signage throughout the event. You can really get attendees blood pumping with some friendly competition while increasing traffic to any area indicated by the game.

Promoting these benefits is an ideal way to ease the fears of any attendees who may feel uncomfortable about being “tracked.”

Benefits for Session Attendees

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s (CEIR) 2018 ROI Playbook Series, attendees who track their show activities have a better impression of an event compared to those who do not.

The study compared several different Net Promoter Scores (NPS). An NPS is a calculation used to determine the likelihood that consumers will actively support an event (or business, etc.) or loudly deride it. An NPS that is higher than zero is the desired result because it indicates there are more promoters than detractors, while a negative NPS signifies the opposite. An NPS of 50 or more denotes an event that is performing extremely well, and a score of 70 or more is exceptional.

Attendees that track activities have an NPS  of 53 percent compared to the NPS of 31 percent for those who do not track. The highest NPS – 67 percent – is from those who rely on badge scanners to gather product information.

According to the report, “Badge scanners are tremendously impactful in satisfying attendee interest in obtaining the product information they seek. Organizers might consider motivating exhibitors to use this technology by discounting this exhibitor service or even considering including it as a part of a basic booth package to help more exhibitors take advantage of capturing attendee data more efficiently and facilitating quicker lead follow-up.”

When organizers make session tracking an essential part of an event, they can also, simultaneously, assist attendees with their tracking efforts. This assistance can occur in many ways, including providing each attendee with a clear, easy-to-read list with details on the sessions they attended and every contact they made at the event. By alleviating attendees of this task, they can better focus on the overall event.

With today’s tech, session tracking is easy and discreet. It provides invaluable data for event planners while improving the attendees’ entire experience.