The ultimate guide to QR codes for events

Well, what a comeback! Hadn’t we all believed the era of the small, square-shaped, scannable barcodes would pass by as quickly as they first appeared? Well, not so fast…Empowered by the need to reduce physical touchpoints in our daily lives during the pandemic and the ubiquitous availability of smartphone cameras in our pockets, the little code became an unexpected star of these truly transformative times. From nerdy phenomenon to sophisticated communication, the QR code has had a surprising career to date. First devised in 1994 by famed inventor Masahiro Hara, only now does the technology seem to be fulfilling its true raison d’être. Here we fill you in on everything you need to know about QR codes for events and how to use them in zkipster

What is a QR code?

First things first: QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes, much like those you find in the supermarket, but containing more complex data. QR stands for Quick Response, which refers to the instant access to the information (i.e. the code value) that’s contained in a QR code. Quite simply, a QR code is an encoded piece of data translated into an image. The data in a QR code can be alphanumeric, numeric, binary, or Kanji (the Chinese symbol system). The positioning of the black and white squares compound the unique piece of information, which might be a link or a piece of data such as your personal contact information, etc. 

So for events, the little codes open a whole new world of digital interactions between us and our guests, from the moment they book a ticket or receive an invitation to the second they leave our events. Before we deep-dive into how you can use the codes within zkipster, here is a little spoiler…

The benefits of using QR codes within zkipster

  • Ramp up check-in speed: Speed up check-ins by automating the guest list check.
  • Improve hygiene: Replace physical tickets with a contactless data exchange.
  • Increase efficiency: No more looking through endless paper guest lists – phew!
  • Improve safety: Reduced fraud risk thanks to real-time data checks and full transparency of your event’s attendance status. 
  • Full flexibility: Control what your QR code contains, from contact info to guest ID.

But how do QR codes let you unlock these benefits? Let’s look at how the little codes can positively impact every aspect of your event with zkipster

QR codes for RSVPs and confirmation emails

At zkipster, empowering you to manage your event communications digitally is at the heart of what we do, so you can create invitations, guest response forms, save the dates and other event emails in minutes using popular templates, your own designs, or custom HTML invites you’ve uploaded. And with our QR code feature, we give you the benefits of this technology right from the first client touchpoint. After registering for your event, guests can receive their personal QR codes with their confirmation emails, allowing them to immediately add the codes to their digital wallets (Apple or Android). With zkipster’s intuitive email tool, you can customize the size, position, and functionality of your QR code to suit your brand and event with only a few clicks. If you want to read more about how to do that, check out our detailed guide here.

QR codes for check-in

The biggest relief comes when using QR codes for your event’s check-in procedures. With the codes at your guests’ fingertips – within their confirmation emails or smartphone and smartwatch wallets – checking in event attendees has never been easier, faster and safer. Within a fraction of a second, the scan function of the zkipster check-in app will check in your guests, with no further interaction needed. Scanned = checked in! We provide two different and convenient modes: auto check-in and continuous check-in. Both options allow the app to automatically check in your guests after scanning their code, without the need to manually press the check-in button on their profile. With continuous check-in, it is possible to switch the zkipster in-app camera to an ‘always-on’ setting, so that the scanner is in constant use. In effect, the app becomes a kiosk for seamless ticket or invitation scanning. Increased efficiency and contactless check-in? Check. See our guide to QR code scanning for check-in here.

QR codes

QR codes for capacity management and admissions to event sessions  

With legal requirements around social distancing and maximum capacities still an important consideration for events, keeping track of who is where, when is essential for providing maximum health and safety precautions for your events. QR codes provide exactly that knowledge – and in real-time. With zkipster’s Sessions feature (available via the app on both iOS and Android), guests can be checked into a Session independently from the main event check-in. With customizable grouping of your guests, you can manage who is invited where and at what time, and use QR codes to track attendance and provide real-time capacity management. Increased event safety and visibility? Check. Find out more about Sessions here.

QR codes for vCards

The full potential of QR codes is realized when you see how those abstract little images can also be a fast, interactive and effective tool to enhance your guests’ networking activities. Did you know that they can act as digital business cards, storing your guests’ contact information as shareable vCards? In fact, QR codes can trigger anything from contact info downloads to direct links to LinkedIn or other professional profiles. Real added value for guests? Check. Read our guide to using QR codes for vCards here.

QR codes on printed badges

Taking the benefits of vCard sharing to the next level, zkipster provides you with a quick and easy tool for embedding QR codes into printed badges for issuing at the entrance to your event. You can customize your badges by choosing from a variety of templates, seamlessly embedding the QR code into a badge design of your choice. If you choose to use the code for check-in, zkipster lets you choose between two types of check-in ID, the zkipster ID and the Custom ID. The zkipster ID is a code auto-generated by the zkipster system that uniquely identifies each of your main guests when the QR code is scanned, while the Custom ID allows you to incorporate custom code values you have uploaded into zkipster and defined via the relevant dropdown. Whichever way you chose to check in your guests, zkipster has you covered. Enhanced guest identification? Check. Read our guide to using QR codes for printed badges here.

So, we can’t help but think that the clever Masahiro Hara had zkipster in mind when he invented the QR code in 1994. It was also the year the first-ever smartphone was invented, and the combination of the two has defined the way we approach events in 2021. Thanks 1994!

QR codes
Image by Proxyclick via Unsplash

Quick-fire QR Q&A

Do QR codes ever expire? 

Yes and no. It depends on the type of QR code: static or dynamic. The destination URL of a static code is fixed and cannot be changed once created, but with dynamic codes you have the flexibility to change the linked URL, even after printing or distributing the code. This means that the information contained within the code can change without the code itself needing to change. zkipster QR codes never expire while an event is active. You can also ascertain if a guest has already been checked in if their QR code is scanned a second time, which provides an extra layer of security. QR codes you generate with zkipster can be used in invitations, confirmation emails, session and event check-in, and they will always be the same, but unique to each guest.

Can QR codes be tracked and analyzed?

Yes – but this only applies to dynamic QR codes, which can be tracked and analyzed to gauge the performance of an email campaign, or to assess the number of scans, locations and devices used, for example, as well as for retargeting and rebranding purposes. 

What was the original purpose of QR codes?

QR codes were created by the Japanese company Denso Wave to keep track of vehicles during the manufacturing process: they enabled components to be scanned at high speed.

What do the squares mean?

The three big squares in the corners (bottom left, top left, and top right) tell the scanner or camera where and how to look at the pattern. They contain the so-called finder pattern and a smaller square corner that contains the alignment pattern. Together they allow the reader to understand the pattern even when scanning from different angles. Clever, right?

Are QR code patterns the same for identical data?

Not really. Even if the data stored on the scan is identical, the pattern can be quite different as there are diverse engines that calculate the pattern in different ways. While the image can differ, all QR codes follow a globally standardized system that is updated every few years by Denso Wave.

Header image by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash.