In the book Veronika Decides To Die, author Paulo Coelho rather aptly has discussed the history of neck-adornments. The lines say
“a madman would say that what I have round my neck is a ridiculous, useless bit of coloured cloth tied in a very complicated way……. If a mad person were to ask me what this is for, I would have to say, absolutely nothing. It’s not even purely decorative, since nowadays it’s become a symbol of slavery, power, aloofness.”
Coelho has the history and symbolism of tie like accessories, like lanyards, down perfectly, if not their utility. Unlike ties, lanyards are used as means of identification. They hang innocently down the neck to proudly differentiate a company CEO from its most recent trainee in a room full of people.
Titles have always been a marker of hierarchy and it makes people stop and rethink the approachability. In business events, this very stark separation of identities may end up killing potential leads, who may have otherwise engaged with you.This being the case, how are lanyards, that scream out your hierarchy, helping your cause? Will the death of the lanyard promote more people to approach each other talk to each other more openly?
Recently at the 2016 Code Conference, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was seen without a lanyard. I see this all the time. The delegates are made slave to the badges while the speakers or panel moderators are allowed to be free. There is certainly something not right about a lanyard!
The game plan
I cannot advocate that there should be no identification markers whatsoever. But it is time for lanyards to be replaced by wearables like smart wristbands, smart watches and mobile apps.
When smart bands are integrated with mobile event apps, it unlocks huge hidden networking and contextual content potential. Attendee Matchmaking, Floor Heatmap & WayFinder are few of the hyper-local features. To add to the list, a user can also enjoy contactless payments and access control at event venues. Contextual content can blossom. Imagine business cards being exchanged with a tap of the wrist band or conference resources downloaded to your dropbox account with a simple wave of the hand.
The fight for attention
Many event organizers & planners would contend that lanyards serve as the best medium for sponsorship and branding. But, ask yourself, how many times have you seen a brand highlighted in a lanyard and taken a purchase decision based on just that? I often see a blind eye to that.
Boosting sponsorship value is a lot easier when mobile apps are used. One of the notable features is Personalized Alerts & Notifications, which helps connected sponsors with attendees. And of course having it digital pays dividend. An average user opens the event app at least 30 times in a day. And their interactions are all measured.
In more ways than not, the journey of a lanyard to a wrist widget reminds me that of LAN to Wifi.